Study Abroad Alternative: Service Learning & Shoulder to Shoulder

One of the best parts of being an upperclassmen is the opportunity to study abroad. Although, studying abroad is a great experience it is also not for everyone. There are a few sacrifices one has to make while studying abroad which includes; missing holidays, missing family, and of course traveling costs money. Many study abroad programs at Lasell College will cost the same tuition wise, but sometimes the plane fare to and from is not included and if any additional traveling occurs that will come out of pocket as well. So, if study abroad doesn't work with a current financial situation or missing family holidays is a deal breaker there are plenty of alternatives to consider.  

Lasell has multiple opportunities for students to gain new cultural experiences and explore different countries. Lasell offers several service learning trips located out of the country as well as local trips. These are a great alternative to spending a semester abroad because they range from one week long to three weeks long. There is also the benefit of being able to help others with service. Students can choose to attend international, regional or local Boston area trips with Lasell.

The service learning trips are categorized into two sections called Shoulder to Shoulder trips and Alternative Spring Break trips. All Shoulder to Shoulder trips are international while Alternative Spring Break trips take place within the U.S. In the past, Lasell’s Shoulder to Shoulder trips have travelled to Vietnam, Tanzania, Ecuador, Belize, and Antigua, while Alternative Spring Break trips have taken place in New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Georgia, Louisiana, and of course Massachusetts.


Service learning trips also have the added benefit of traveling with a group of peers from the Lasell Community. For some, traveling alone in a foreign country may seem like a daunting task and having other Lasell students and experienced faculty along with them makes for a less stressful time. In return, parents or guardians may also feel more comfortable knowing their child will be traveling with a familiar group.  

Another positive aspect of Lasell’s service learning trips is that they are much less expensive than studying abroad, but it is important to be mindful that during a service trip decisions are made as a group. What this means is that not every individual is going to be able to do what they like whenever they like. That may make service learning trips sound like a bad group project, but they are much more fun and rewarding than that. The groups that are picked to attend each trip are selected based on how well they will work with everyone and what positive additions they can make to the trip ensuring the group will mesh well.

To attend a service learning trip Lasell students must apply and go through an interview process, so a committee or trip leaders can select the best applicants that will make the trip a success. The application process usually occurs a semester in advance because Shoulder to Shoulder trips require students to take a specific class prior to the trip. Service learning trips are offered every year so if a student did not pass the application process, they are encouraged to apply again the following year.  

One of the biggest factors that make service trips appealing to students is that the cost of the trip is offered to students at a highly discounted rate. The way this works is that Lasell pays a large portion of all of the traveling fees and students only have to cover a small fee to attend. For example Lasell’s Shoulder to Shoulder trip to Tanzania in May of 2016 cost $700 per student. This particular trip was just under three weeks long and $700 covered food, lodging, and traveling expenses, in comparison to the cost of $2,000 per student if Lasell covered none of it. So, for three incredible weeks in Africa it would only cost Lasell students a mere $700, which is an unbelievable opportunity.

Always be on the lookout for Lasell emails that provide information about these trips and when information sessions are available to learn more. There are numerous trips to choose from that can satisfy many different budgets as well. Don’t ever think that traveling the world is out of reach, one just has to be willing to dig a little deeper in order to achieve their goals.  

*Photo taken by Ashanah Trip on the 2016 Shoulder to Should trip to Tanzania