There are 59 or so days until I board a plane with a suitcase and a carryon, and travel 2357 (give or take) miles to Managua, where I will cohabit with native Spanish speakers for 4 1/2 months. This is going to be an interesting college experience, and definitely not your typical study abroad plan.
A lot of the people I know who went abroad went to places like Australia, New Zealand, England, etc. Not to say this isn’t awesome and a great experience, but I’d prefer to get a little more culture out of my semester stay, and hopefully become fluent in Spanish (we’ll see how that goes).
I’ve always wanted to study abroad – you hear people talk about it, especially when you are in college or applying, but actually going through with it is a completely different story. In reality, only 1% of college students do, either due to fiscal reasons or lack of desire, whatever. This number is astoundingly small, especially since 2006 was “the year of study abroad.”
However, planning to graduate with a Community and International Development major and NOT going abroad seemed a little lopsided, so I applied with the help (hah) of UVM’s lovely Office of International Education. I decided to apply to the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP) due to their wide range of locations and the fact that I could get instate tuition and pay what I normally pay to go to UVM, but instead be somewhere else!
The application process was grueling, taking most of my winter break up at the end of last year and the beginning of 2010. For ISEP, you have to pick multiple choices for countries if you choose the exchange option rather than their direct one (where you pay fees directly to the school you want to attend) and write essays on why you want to go to each country. I picked Costa Rica, South Africa, Chile and Nicaragua (in that order). ISEP then takes a ridiculously long amount of time (2 months or so) to get back to you on where you have been placed. They then tell your home SA advisor where they have placed you, send out your application to that school and then that school has to approve you. Good thing there is a 90% change when you are matched with a school that they will accept you!
So I was placed in Nicaragua, probably due to my mediocre Spanish skills and my major, which they have at La Universidad Americana in Managua. Still yet to hear if I’m staying with a host family and what classes I will take, but I have to be there by August 2nd!!