Before I came to Drew, I never really thought about going abroad. I lived abroad for seven years, so I thought I should figure out what America was all about. Figuring out my own country did not take long.
I soon realized that my college experience would be incomplete if I spent all four years on campus. Hearing about the experiences from friends who participated in Drew International Seminars and spent semesters abroad changed my mind. Now, three weeks away from my college retirement, I can say I’ve done one summer program, two DIS’s and a semester abroad.
Last fall, I spent my semester in Brussels and it was the best decision I made regarding my education at Drew University. You may be able to learn European politics in a class at Brothers College, but actually going to the European Parliament adds more dimension to the experience. Having a conversation with a member of the Commission has a much greater impact than listening to a professor ramble on about it while you’re half-awake nursing an average-tasting coffee.
Then, there is the life outside of the classroom. Madison just doesn’t cut it when compared to Brussels, the bustling capital of the European Union. It’s like comparing Keystone Light to the great brews of Belgium8212;they’re not even close to being in the same category.
As you can tell, I’m all about Brussels, so when they announced the cancellation of the program for next fall, I was devastated.
Like the people that went before me, I talk about my experience in Brussels all the time. I’m sure my friends are sick of my talking about the European Union and Belgian waffles by now. I know I told a few people that applied for the semester next fall and explained to them what an amazing time they would have if they went. I guess I should have told them to go to London instead.
From the beginning of freshman year to the end of our stay at Drew, the university has always encouraged us to go abroad. As of this year, all incoming students must have at least one off-campus experience. This may be an internship in Madison, but I believe that most students will pick a foreign country over a walk into town. Now with another semester abroad program thrown out the window, where does Drew expect us to go?
Those who applied for the fall do not have time to apply somewhere else, and the approved study abroad list keeps getting shorter and shorter. Some of those who were getting ready to pack their bags for Brussels will be seniors next year and will not really have a chance to experience being abroad especially with a program run by Drew University.
So it all comes down to economics and, of course, politics. We can’t entirely blame Drew University for everything this time. In simple terms, the great state of New Jersey canceled the European Semester in Brussels. If the money does not roll in, we can’t roll out.
I believe that there is a simple solution for all this. Now I may not be an economist, but I am an anthropologist. I know a little or two about people8212;They love to have their name on things. Between 10 and 13 million dollars are needed to renovate the U.C., all which will be contributed to the university through private funding8212;meaning, someone will get his or her name on a brand spankin’ new building.
Instead of having your name on a large, shiny building, (that people will inevitably call the U.C. anyway because we are creatures of habit) donate your money so we can go abroad. It can even be named after you8212;”insert prestigious name here” Brussels Semester 2010.” I think it has a nice ring to it.
Elizabeth Bowers is a senior Anthropology major