It’s not hard to spot the “Do Something Great for your Education: Leave!” posters hanging all over Denison. At first glance all the posters seem contradicting, why leave school to get an education? Denison believes that one of the best classrooms is the real world itself, and encourages all of its students to have the study abroad experience. To make the abroad experience easy and accessible to all of its students, Denison provides an extremely helpful and knowledgeable Off –Campus Study (OCS) department to help with the process. This past summer I had the opportunity to study abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, and thanks to Denison had one of the best experiences of my life. But, before you can jump on a plane and live in a different country, there’s a few things that must get done.
As a sophomore (or Junior), the first step is to schedule a meeting with the OCS department. During this meeting you will discuss what you are looking for in an abroad experience and where you are thinking about going (maybe the beutiful mountains of Switzerland or the beaches of Palma de Mallorca) and an OCS counselor will help you find a customized program that is right for you. At this meeting you will also discuss costs and other less-fun logistics. These abroad appointments begin in April of a student’s freshman year and continue through Thanksgiving break of a student’s sophomore year. This period of time allows students to explore all the different off-campus options and to consider what timing would be best according to ones particular degree requirements. For example, if one of the required classes for your major is only offered in the fall, consider going abroad in the spring or summer! A student can choose to go abroad in the summer, a fall or spring semester or an entire year.
Choosing the right program can be tough- the world is a pretty big place. What was most helpful for me in deciding where to go was the list of programs the OCS office has that accepts Denison students. Some of the most popular include Copenhagen, South Africa and Spain. By seeing which programs have accepted Denison students, you can see what works best for transferring back your credits. Plus, if you are thinking about going to a particular place, you can see which Denison students have gone there and talk to them.
After choosing a program, the student enters the OCS Proposal Process. Now, that kind of sounds time consuming and scary- but don’t worry, its not hard at all. The proposal process involves applying to the specific program you chose, picking appropriate classes and getting them approved by your instructors and the Registrar. Before you know it, you’re done! And you can start to prepare (and pack) for one of the most meaningful and important experiences of your life!
The best option for me personally was going abroad over the summer to Copenhagen. Since I have a major with a double minor, the summer abroad provided me with a wonderful opportunity to get ahead on a few of my academic credits. I also had (mostly) nice weather when traveling around and still got a chance to be a little bit of a tourist. Going abroad to Copenhagen was a truly unforgettable experience, as I had the chance to experience the Danish culture first hand, make new friends and explore my major and minors in a completely different context. Most importantly, what I really got out of my abroad experience was my newfound sense of independence. I learned how to navigate train schedules in different countries (and got lost more than a few times), and even had the opportunity to live all on my own (my cooking could use some more practice.) Living in a different country allowed me to mature more then I ever fully could on a campus where everything is provided for me. As cliché as it sounds, I became a new worldly adult, aware of my surroundings and myself. It really was the best thing I could do for my education, and it was much more than just school, it was real life.
We all know how sometimes Denison can feel like a bubble, since we are all together all the time in this really small world on top of the hill. But there is a much bigger world out there then Denison, and you can learn more than you ever thought possible! I encourage everyone who can, to go abroad.
For more information on the Abroad process- visit Denison’s Off-Campus page!