On March 27, more than 15 community college students will travel to the Czech Republic for 10 weeks of study and culture through the offered study abroad program.
Hosted by the Washington State Community College Consortium for Study Abroad, students are given the opportunity to travel and learn in different countries every fall, winter, spring and summer quarter.
“The whole trip experience was amazing. It was a life changing experience. I learned so much about the culture, biography and people of both countries,” Pierce College student Cassie Owens said.
Owens studied in Australia and New Zealand during winter quarter 2013.
The program not only gives students the chance to travel and experience another cultures, but also to learn in a different environment. Each student is expected to take 15 credits at a selected college.
“The classes are not challenging or time consuming at all. They do this on purpose because the teachers want the students to go be part of the culture and explore more than writing papers and studying,” Owens said, referring to the courses offered at the Australia/New Zealand program. Students travelling to Prague this spring will take three courses: Composition II- Research Essay: Theme: Magical Realism, Creative Nonfiction Writing on Place and Czech Life and Culture.The fee varies depending on the location. The Czech Republic program costs $6,245 and covers housing, travel passes within the Czech Republic, certain activity fees and day trips through the program. Air travel, tuition and other class fees are not included in the required fee. Financial aid and scholarships are available for applicants.
“Save money because every dollar helps!” Owens said.
Running Start students may participate in the program, provided students fit the age requirement.
“The courses offered on each program have to fit in their study plan or they have to self-pay,” International Student Services Manager Mary Meulblok said.
Students interested in applying for the program must have completed 10 credits at Pierce and have a minimum 2.5 GPA. Most programs have a minimum age of 17, but some require students to be 18.
The application for the program includes an essay and two letters of recommendation. If a student is accepted into the program, then they’ll attend a program orientation.
The essay gives students the opportunity to explain why they want to study abroad.
Fifteen different colleges participate in the WCCCSA, giving students the chance to meet people from all around the state.
“I became close friends with everyone on the trip,” Owens said of the 30 students who travelled with her. “The friendships alone made the trip worth it.”
“The experience was life changing for me. I fell in love with the culture, the people and the language,” Shannon McEwen said, who travelled to Costa Rica during the shorter, four week summer program.
McEwen funded her trip through garage sales and a fundraiser website.
“Do not be nervous, though it is a little scary leaving the country for an extended period of time,” Owens advised, “but the stories and experiences are worth it all.”
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