Study abroad expands program
Coming to St. John’s offers a new environment for freshmen, especially for students who are not from New York City. Now, St. John’s is giving freshmen another opportunity to enjoy their new environment, but this one is across the pond. The Freshmen Passport program invites first-year students to visit Rome and Paris for two weeks as part of a core class.
The program is a collaborative effort between the Institute for Course Studies and the Office of Global Studies.
Karl Rutter, the recruitment director at the Office of Global Studies, spoke about the new program.
“It’s to give them the opportunity to experience the study abroad program in a more controlled and structured environment,” he said.
The program, which is in its inaugural year, was developed to give freshmen the opportunity to travel abroad. Before this program was available, students could only study abroad starting their sophomore year. Now, students can combine one of their main core classes with a voyage to Italy or France.
The program’s purpose is to give students a sample of what studying abroad would be like and encourage them to study abroad for a semester when they become upperclassmen.
The first program was this August, in which 30 students went to Rome as part of their Discover New York course. The students compared Rome to their own communities, researching different sights that interested them and reflecting on community service.
Clarie Cilento, a freshman, was one of those students that studied in Rome with her DNY class this summer. Her reaction to the trip was very positive.
“My experience in Rome was unforgettable. The Freshmen Passport Program provided the opportunity for me to get involved in St. John’s before I even entered the school,” she said. “I was able to meet other students and form friendships and memories.”
This program is for more than just exploring a foreign city.
The Freshmen Passport Program combines one of the following core classes in Theology, English, DNY or Speech 1000C with a two-week stay in Rome. Each core class includes unique assignments that directly relate to their class and their European city.
Students are allowed to explore the city of Rome but they won’t have time to visit other countries or European cities like those who study abroad for a full semester.
They are also required to participate in certain activities after their classes. Still, if students want to explore on their own, they have free time each day after all events on the itinerary are done. The itinerary itself includes two day trips to Florence and Assisi.
For the winter session this year (Jan. 2-14), students begin one of their core classes here at St. John’s and end their class in Rome. They are placed in the same class with students that are attending the program. At last count, there were 78 students attending this session, according to Rutter.
Freshman Patrick Schuster said he will be attending the winter session in Rome. Although it will not be his first time traveling outside the country, it will be his first visit to Europe.
“I love traveling and seeing new places,” he said.
Rome is not the only city students can visit for the Freshmen Passport program. A two-week program in Paris is already in store for spring 2010. This program offers Theology 1000C and was designed with the biology or pharmacy student in mind because their core course load differs from students in other academic disciplines.
“It is more difficult for biology and pharmacy majors to participate in semester-long Global Studies programs because their majors have very strict guidelines and their mandatory courses are not offered abroad,” said Rutter.
“That is why the Freshmen Passport program has offered Theology 1000 in spring so that those students may take one of their core classes abroad.”
The trip costs $1,500 and includes most meals, bus trips and accommodations, but airfare is not included and must be paid separately by the student. The financial aid a student receives for tuition is put toward this trip, but unlike the regular semester study abroad program, no scholarships are directly available for students.
Rutter said he believes that students should take advantage this program.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, an incredible experience,” he said. “It adds to academic credibility.”