Study abroad still open, but not for long

Tyler Lambert, center left, and other study abroad students taking a selfie on Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. Lambert is planning to travel again on the 2017 trip.

Students and community members can still apply for the spring study abroad trip to Italy and Greece, but open spots are filling fast.

At last check there were only four positions left, and a renewed interest in overseas study means these spots will not be open long, said Joanna Sabo, Global Studies coordinator.

Every two years MCCC hosts a study abroad program, which is a three-week study in foreign countries. This year’s destination is Italy and Greece, with five different courses offered during the trip. 

The trip is scheduled for May 19 – Jun 5, during the 6-week spring semester. To join the trip, students and community members must enroll in one or more of the classes being offered.

Though the first two classes have closed enrollment, Poetry and Theatre, Global Marketing, and Comparative Politics are being offered for students joining now.

To be admitted to the trip, students must pass a background check, get a passport, have health insurance for the duration of the trip, have a GPA of 2.0 or higher, get two letters of recommendations, and enroll by Nov. 30.

The reasons for joining this trip are varied and differ for each person; some want the opportunity to see Europe, others want the edge in a competitive hiring market, and some simply want to make friends.

Sabo, the director of the global studies program and professor of Political Science, is one of the professors in charge of the three-week trip.

Sabo has been involved with the program since its beginning and has seen hundreds of students experience a study abroad trip.

One of the things she’s noticed is the advantage study abroad gives students applying for jobs in the future.

“You talk to an employer about a trip that’s 5-10 days and they think that’s just a vacation. But you say I went away for three weeks or almost a month and learned about Mediterranean culture, that’s going to impress an employer,” she said. “It’s about learning about different cultures, and being able to use that in a job interview.”

Some students return from a trip only to join the next one two years later. On each trip there have been at least a handful of students returning for a second time.

One of those students is Tyler Lambert. He went on the trip to Europe last year and is registered for the trip to Italy and Greece next year. 

Lambert said one of the parts he’s looking forward to most is seeing some of the  friends he made on the last trip again, and making new friends with the students on this trip.

“I know a lot of people who went last time are going again, so I’m excited to spend more time with them,” he said.  “I’m also excited to make new friends, because I know a lot of new people are going.”

While Lambert visited Italy on the last trip, he said he has never visited Greece and is excited to be able to cross that country off his list of places traveled. 

Lambert isn’t just going for fun, however; he’s also decided to take all three of the classes offered this time around. 

Another student, Rachael Lopez, hopes the trip abroad will let her learn more about architecture and help her in what she plans to do in the future.

“Biggest reason I’m going is it sounds like fun, and it’ll help me in my field of interior design,” she said.

Lopez has good reason to believe it will help, as students who have been on earlier trips have given testimonials on how the trip has helped them.

One former student, Lauren Van Houten, works in the same field as Lopez. She said an MCCC study abroad trip gave her opportunities she would not have otherwise.

“Because I had studied abroad, my resume stood out from my classmates and I was recommended by my professor for a paid Interior Design internship,” she said.

One former student, Brianna LoPiccolo, went on two different trips and found the experience so impactful that it changed the way she viewed the world.

“When it was time to make a Christmas list that year, I noticed my mind wandering back. I felt like asking for anything was ridiculous when I already had so much compared to the majority of the world. I had always known that before, but never felt it like I did that year,” she said.

While everyone may not have such a powerful experience, most people who go on the trip do not regret it, Sabo said.

While the trip sounds wonderful, it is not cheap. The trip costs between $4,400-$5,000, and miscellaneous expenses like getting a passport or buying traveler’s insurance can raise that price even more.

The short time frame between now and next May also makes paying for the trip difficult; there are only a few months left, making a monthly payment plan expensive.

Financial aid can help, but it cannot cover everything for most students.  Those students usually make up the difference by taking student loans or asking for help from family, Sabo said.

The price for this trip is actually much lower than similar trips at other colleges and universities.

But several students mentioned that the main thing holding them back from joining is the cost involved.

That coupled with the short deadline and the limited room left on this year’s study abroad means that many people who’d like to take part in this trip simply cannot.

However, the college holds these trips every two years, Sabo said, so there will be another chance in 2019.

Two years is a much more forgiving period of time to gather the money needed. Additionally, Sabo said, it is not uncommon for students to return to this college’s study abroad program after they have transferred to universities.

If you are planning on going this semester, in two years, or in twenty, be prepared for an exciting time.

“The coolest thing about study abroad is the unexpected. There’ll be surprises in things that cross our paths that I can’t predict right now, and those are the moments we all remember the most,” Sabo said.

The next information meeting for the 2017 study abroad trip will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 18 in Room 257 of the La-Z-Boy Center. The last meeting scheduled this semester is at 12:30 p.m. Nov. 3 in Room 173a of the A building.

However, if you are interested in joining this year’s study abroad, waste no time in contacting professor Sabo immediately at