UNIVERSITY BASED PROGRAMS
If you choose to study at an overseas University you will enroll in regular classes and study alongside students from the host country. This option offers the advantage of full cultural immersion. This also permits you to choose from a wide variety of courses in many disciplines. Visiting students are expected to perform at the same level as their native classmates, and will be graded as such. In most overseas universities the majority of each course grade will depend heavily on the outcome of a final exam or paper and less on assignments throughout the semester. In addition, classes will follow the local academic calendar and semesters may start earlier or later than universities in the U.S. University Based Programs normally offer housing in dorms or in student apartments. Some universities only offer housing in a designated international dorm.
There are two different ways you may study at an overseas university:
a) Direct enrollment: In many countries you may apply to and enroll directly in a university. Generally, overseas universities do not offer the same level of support services that students are accustomed to receiving at Colby College. However, there are usually international student offices that do provide some services to visiting students.
Examples: London School of Economics and Political Science; University of Melbourne
b) Applying through a program provider: In the U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa you may apply to universities through American intermediaries, such as IFSA Butler, CIEE, and IES. (Not all of their programs, however, are approved by Colby). These program providers’ program fee usually includes a variety of services including: application, pre-departure, medical insurance, orientation, excursions, assistance with course selection, registration and housing and other on-site support services. These organizations also employ a resident director and other staff in each city or country who provide on-site support. If you decide to apply through a program provider you should use their application materials, follow their eligibility guidelines, requirements, and deadlines for the specific program in which you are interested (in many cases, they vary from the university's).
Examples: IFSA-Butler: University of Melbourne; CIEE: University of Cape Town.
English-speaking university enrollment: It is possible to enroll in one of many English-speaking universities (in Ireland, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, etc.) and take all your classes there, alongside host-country undergraduates. The universities have their own international student offices that can help you through any stage of the study abroad process.
Non-English-speaking university enrollment: This must nearly always be done through a program. The most common model is for programs in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico, etc. to teach at least one of their own courses in a somewhat US-style format, at their own center, but also enroll students for some or most of their courses at a local university, alongside host-country undergraduates. For the languages taught at Colby, you will normally need to have at least two years of college-level language for a program of this type (see specific program requirements).
Please see the section below on Study Center Based Programs for more information on other ways to take some of your courses at an overseas university.
STUDY CENTER BASED PROGRAMS
Some academic institutions have study centers overseas where they host programs specifically designed for international students. These programs offer classes in English or the local language that are taught by local and/or visiting faculty. Courses are generally structured similarly to U.S. university courses, with a syllabus, regular assignments, and frequent exams. These programs are also more likely to follow the U.S. semester calendar. If you chose to study on one of these programs you will be taking courses with other foreign students. Most of these programs offer housing with homestay families, a few offer housing in student apartments.
Examples: IES in Granada, Spain; Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies
In some countries where English is not the primary native language these programs may also allow students with adequate language abilities to take one or more courses at a local university alongside local students.
Examples: IES Buenos Aires; CIEE programs in many countries
FIELD-BASED / RESEARCH PROGRAMS
Study abroad on a field-based program offers you the opportunity to approach academic learning in a new way. These physical and social science programs take advantage of their locations in the field to engage students in experiential, interdisciplinary learning. Most programs have very specific themes such as ecology, marine biology, anthropology, social justice, etc. These programs tend to be small, usually accommodating 25 or fewer students from the U.S. who take all of their courses together. Courses are taught by a combination of professors, local experts and working professionals. Most class time is spent out in the field, learning about the local culture and history, observing, collecting data and interacting directly with the subject matter you are studying and the program will often conclude with an independent study project in which students pursue field studies based on the theoretical framework they have acquired in courses in the first part of the semester. Courses tend to have regularly scheduled assignments and exams. Assessment is often based on the quality of observation and analysis demonstrated in your work. These programs tend to follow a U.S. academic calendar. Housing options vary depending on location. Many programs offer a homestays or rustic accommodations in field stations.
Examples: SIT: Madagascar: National Identify and Social Change; School for Field Studies: Sustainable Development, Costa Rica.
LANGUAGE INTENSIVE PROGRAM
Language acquisition programs are language intensive and designed to help you enhance your host country language skills and cultural fluency. In addition to courses in grammar, conversation, and written language, all of your other courses on culture, art or history for example will usually be taught in the local language but adjusted to your level of ability. In some cases, some classes on the country’s history, art, or politics for example may also be taught in English. Housing on these programs will usually entail a homestay with a local family. Examples: Colby in Salamanca-Language Program; Associated Colleges in China (ACC) program.
Internships offer a unique way to immerse yourself in the local society and gain a deeper understanding of a particular field. Several programs around the world sponsor academic internships that allow students to gain real word experience with a private firm, an artistic association, a government body or a non government organization. Please note that not all internships offered by programs on the approved list meet Colby' requirements for credit. In addition to general policies, internship programs must include a non-paid internship with considerable academic work done in tandem and not to exceed 4 credit hours. The internship should be done as part of a study abroad program that is predominantly credited in terms of the courses taken. Typical models consist of 16 credits with the internship counting for 4 credits and three other courses counting for 4 credits each). Internships and independent study courses must have approval from the Office of Off-Campus Study in order to be accepted for credit.
Examples: Boston University London Internship; IES in Vienna.
Language instruction: Do not assume that if you have no great language competency or background they are your only option. There are some programs in Europe or Asia that accept students with no previous knowledge of the host-country language, although you will be required to take an introductory course in the language during the semester.
Example: CHP in Prague, DIS in Copenhagen, the Swedish Program in Stockholm.
Teaching and learning: There is much variation among programs in teaching methods, types of assignments, amount of supervision and direction from instructors, and forms of assessment. All students should pay close attention to this, and bear in mind that the method of assessment of many university courses remains heavily weighted towards final examinations, and most courses offer less direct contact with the instructor than you are used to a Colby.
Housing: While most universities abroad don’t have an American-style campus life or dormitories, some do. Some programs give you a choice of housing options or a mix of several over the course of the semester, others have just one option. The most common options are homestays (living with a local family), dormitories (living with local or other international students), and apartments shared with other program participants, local students, or both. In many field-based programs, housing is usually some combination of small local hostels, field station dormitory, homestays, and/or camping during the semester.
Program Style: Some students want a great deal of independence and are willing to do a lot of legwork on things like finding their own housing, figuring out how to register for courses, and learning about the host culture, while others prefer to be part of a program that will take care of these details for them. You may want to stay away from Americans as much as possible, or you may decide it would be more comfortable to be around at least some people with similar backgrounds, going through the acculturation process together. There’s no one right answer, so think about finding a good balance based on your knowledge of yourself.
Service Learning/Volunteering: Some programs have a service learning component or are able to help you get in involved in volunteer Location: You may choose a program by the country or city in which it is based. This is especially common for those who want to study a particular society (current or historic), environmental phenomenon, language, or culture. You may want to consider whether you will be able to travel in the region, and whether the political climate is conducive to your spending a semester or year there. Also consider if you want to live in a big city , a smaller city, or a more rural area. Personal Factors: These may include the cost of living in the countries you’re considering, your health situation (asthma, for instance, may preclude some locations), courses available in your major field of study, dates (some programs run only at one time of year, and some have a calendar that conflicts with the US university schedule or summer break), a longstanding desire to live near the sea or to follow in Fitzgerald’s footsteps, and so on.
Cost: Program and university costs vary greatly. Since while studying abroad Colby students pay the cost of the program (not Colby tuition) you should check on each program/university for their fees. In general, fees for direct enrollment in a foreign university are lower than applying through a program provider but these program providers’ program fee usually includes a variety of services including: application, pre-departure, medical insurance, orientation, excursions, assistance with course selection, registration and housing and other on-site support services for students on site. Use the Off-Campus Study Budget Planning Worksheet on the OCS website under Financing Off-Campus Study.
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