Last week of August ...
Here in the US many people go on vacation this week, often abroad, culminating with Labor Day Weekend, after which the energies shift to autumn venues :: work, school, shorter days, fall romances and social changes. This happens every year, but does it seem to you that time is accelerating?
When it comes to school, I find more and more a feeling of wanderlust with teachers and students ... a compelling need to go out and explore the planet, which seems to get smaller and more challenged each day. Teachers want to teach abroad. Students want to study abroad. Many tell me that if they don't do it now, the opportunity will never be there again. Boredom, questing, inner guidance, a need to heal, tired of current situations and not wanting to repeat another school year of the same ... all reason to go abroad or be part of an exchange program.
As for me and my family ... I never had the opportunity to study or teach on an international levels - other than lecture in several European countries. One of my daughters spent a semester in England and got to see much of western Europe. If any of us were in university now, we would all go abroad if only for a summer program.
In an odd way, we are all studying abroad, as none of us is from here and many can't wait to go home. We are all students of the universe on a grid journey in time and emotions. What did you sign up to learn and experience? Did you pass or fail? Done with it all? Just hang out and have fun!
Our opinion on study-abroad: Education or vacation? USA Today - August 23, 2007
Twenty years ago, when college students studied abroad they usually devoted their entire third year, immersing themselves in the language and culture. That's how it became known as "junior year abroad."
Times have changed, and not for the better. Today, about 200,000 college students take study-abroad trips each year. At least half of those are quick jaunts, often done over the summer with close friends from college and contracted out to private tour operators. By themselves, the quick trips aren't a big deal. But they are a marker of deeper problems that undermine study-abroad programs at a time the United States desperately needs foreign expertise. Business leaders struggling to compete in a global economy, and government agencies engaged in a global war on terror, need sophisticated employees who can do more than find the best beer garden in Munich.
While there's plenty of blame to spread around for the state of study-abroad, including unadventurous students and questionable practices by tour operators, the ultimate accountability lies with colleges. It's up to them to eliminate conflicts of interest and provide better oversight to ensure that "study abroad" lives up to its original intent and doesn't turn into "party abroad" instead.
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