The New Era of 'Study Abroad'

Study abroad has long ranked first or second among students when they seek a college of choice.

Interestingly, very few participate.

That’s because traditional study abroad experiences are judged by undergrads as either too long (a full semester or academic year?) or too lonely (go by myself? not speaking the language well?). Or both.

Dominican University, where I work, was one of the first colleges in the nation to offer study abroad back in the 1920s. In recent years, it’s been a struggle to maintain those programs, but there’s been progress. Now they’re shorter in duration and more oriented to providing a cultural vs. a language-immersion experience. And much more popular!

Five years ago I designed a short-term study abroad program in France: 7 days in Paris, between fall and spring semester (in January), open to a small cohort with an interest in France – not just French majors. At Dominican, we also had interested international business, pre-med and fashion majors.

There were a few advance prep sessions and a reading list assigned prior to departure, plus a final paper to be submitted before spring break. The on-the-ground itinerary involved mainstream and offbeat cultural attractions: a great blend of culture, history and fun while living in a residential hotel. All on a budget that was as affordable as Paris could be for a student.

Then came the pandemic and the canceling of everything abroad. For several years.

Yet my concept wouldn’t die; it stayed with me. So I’ve retooled it for adults who enjoy lifelong learning. Who want to immerse themselves in a place for a full week. Who may never have enjoyed a study abroad experience.

That’s the origin of Also don’t worry: there are no grades! Like all the best experiences, you’ll take from it what you put into it.

Jeffrey Frank Kraft @jeffkraft