From Peru to London — students share their experiences

Kaity Waddell pictured in front of a painted door in Cerro Allegre, Valparaiso, Chile. Such street art is a common sight in Valparaiso where the government or different organizations will commission different pieces to decorate the buildings.

With more than 100 programs to choose from, you’ll find the ideal fit for your study abroad. Students share their experiences from around the world.

Wildlife in Peru

Jack Marchetti ’19 had always wanted to see the Amazon rainforest. Last spring, the biology major stood 100 feet in the air on a canopy walkway in the Amazon, surveying the forest from above tree level. He refers to it as a “wow” moment. “Being able to look out from there and see an ocean of forest was so cool. You think of the Amazon as massive and dense, but seeing it like an ocean was amazing,” he says.

Marchetti studied abroad during the Spring of 2018 with SFS — the School for Field Studies. The SFS, with a primary focus on environmentalism and wildlife conservation, offers programs in countries such as Australia, Cambodia, Costa Rica, and Kenya. After narrowing his choices, Marchetti chose Peru because he wanted the added challenge of navigating a new language.

In Peru, Marchetti pursued his interest in ecology and field studies in the Biodiversity and Development in the Amazon program. Located amid the rainforests of the Amazon, Marchetti’s site was home to countless species of animals, including big cats like the Jaguarundi. In his directed research, Marchetti used camera traps to see what kind of mammals were in their “backyard.”

Ecology in Scotland

Communication major Allie Hicko ’19 also chose a program with a focus on ecology. Her program, through CELL, was a May-term option that lasted about three weeks. Hickox says she chose a shorter-term program because she didn’t feel quite ready to commit to an entire semester abroad. The length ended up being perfect, allowing her the chance to study abroad while still having four years at Denison.

Her program in Northern Scotland was based out of a famous eco-village called Findhorn. Eco-villages are communities where inhabitants live according to shared ecological principles. During her time in Findhorn, Hickox worked in the garden and the kitchen, cooking the vegetables that she had picked earlier in the day. Her class, called Secrets of Simplicity, focused on incorporating sustainable practices in daily life. Hickox says, “learning how to live simply but still comfortably was invaluable to me. It’s what I wanted to learn.”

University classes in South America

Emma Harms ’19 spent her spring semester with CIEE in Santiago, Chile. The anthropology/sociology major with a double minor in Spanish and political science knew that she wanted a program that allowed her to directly enroll in a university and take a diverse range of classes. In many of her classes, Harms was the only American student. She says, “I think that my program allows for cultural immersion more than other programs because it forces you to interact with people in the university setting. I interacted every day with Chileans. I think it’s valuable to be with locals rather than a group of Americans.”

Harms’ experience at Pontificia Universidad Católica exposed her to teaching styles different from those at Denison. Initially oral exams in her law class were stressful, but she pushed through and found pride in being able to communicate ideas about the law in Spanish, and in front of a large group of Chileans. Being enrolled at the university also allowed her to take classes specific to Chile such as the Poetry of Pablo Neruda, Women in Chile, and Latin American Contemporary Cinema.

A summer program in Chile

Kaity Waddell ’19 also studied abroad in Chile. However, she opted for a shorter-term program, staying in Viña del Mar for about six weeks. Her program, through Arcadia, enabled her to take two classes at a nearby Chilean university and live with a family. She loved figuring out how to navigate the city and taking public transportation to school. Waddell is grateful for her experience but wishes it had been longer.

A year of research in Bosnia and Northern Ireland

Ella Asnin ’19 studied abroad for a year, choosing two semester-long programs based in research and work experience rather than a traditional classroom setting. The anthropology/sociology major with a minor in history says, “I’ve always been interested in peace and conflict studies. I took study abroad as an opportunity to advance my interests and do something I couldn’t do while on the hill.” In the fall, Asnin studied abroad in Serbia, Bosnia, and Kosovo on an SIT program called Peace and Conflict Studies in the Balkans. The semester’s curriculum was set up so that they studied the breakup of Yugoslavia and eventually pursued independent research. For her research, Asnin moved from Serbia to Bosnia and spent the month studying wartime humor.

In the spring, she participated in HECUA’s Democracy and Social Change program in Northern Ireland. On her SIT program, she had lived with a host family, however her HECUA program had her living in student dorms with Northern Irish students. Both provided valuable immersive experiences. During Asnin’s internship, she worked with Catholic and Protestant communities to take down the physical walls that divided them. She feels lucky to have had the experience of both research and an internship. Her experience revealed to her a passion for research and has inspired her to apply for a Fulbright in Serbia.

In Internship in London

Tianyue Li ’19 spent her spring semester studying abroad in London through Arcadia’s London Internship Program. She took four classes and participated in an internship while living in an apartment with four roommates. A communication major, Li was placed in a public relations firm that specialized in entertainment publicity. Her job primarily consisted of writing film reviews. One short film for which she wrote a review ended up winning an academy award. Li was able to meet the lead actress and director and even hold the Oscar.

Li, who is from China, comments that Denison was already a study abroad experience for her. However, London was different. She didn’t have a Chinese community in London as she does at Denison. Adjusting to life in a big city was challenging for her. Ultimately, she ended up embracing independence and is grateful that she left her comfort zone. Her time in London helped her realize her passion for PR and her burgeoning interest in cinema. Li says, “If you want to study abroad, you should try something different.” For Li, her program was just that.

A world of opportunities

Sandy Spence, the assistant director of Denison’s Off-Campus Study Office, emphasizes how important it is that students consider the full range of learning experiences available to them. She says, “Students often come to the office having heard about specific programs from friends, not realizing that there is another program that might be a better fit for them. Our advisors can direct students to programs that they might not have discovered through their own research or conversations with peers.”

January 14, 2019