Gracias, Grazie, Merci St. John’s!

It seems like it’s a rite of passage for St. John’s students to go on at least one long-winded rant per semester about how woefully inadequate the University is in one facet or another.

Whether it’s the spotty WiFi, asinine dorm policies, a head-scratching schedule format or just the general sense of “what’s with that?” St. John’s has long been the subject of many a stressed-out student’s ire.

Many of those criticisms are valid; some are not. But often, the University doesn’t get enough credit for the things it does do well.

And one of the things it does better than perhaps any school in the country is its study abroad program.

St. John’s offers study abroad programs ranging from seven days to full MBA programs at their Rome campus.  The shorter trips are often paired with a class that runs through the semester, while mid-length programs (two or three weeks) run during intersession that qualify as a full class.

Then there are the full semester programs that can take you to Rome, Paris and now, Seville, Spain for five or six weeks or for the full semester. For the brave, St. John’s offers full year programs at the Rome and Paris campuses and the opportunity to get your MBA in Rome in 18 months.

But beyond the logistics of the various study abroad programs (and there are more offered) is the ease with which most students can get into them. Most require simply a passport, a short application and a deposit.

Add to that the programs that are on offer in the most popular programs, like Discover the World Europe. Rather than skimping on electives and saving up credits to study abroad, St. John’s has made the very wise decision to make many core courses and general requirements available abroad. So instead of listening to a philosophy professor drone on in St. John’s Hall, you can study metaphysics in the heart of Paris.

All of this for little more than the cost of living expenses on campus here in Queens. The program fee may seem daunting at first, but when you consider the benefits it provides, it really isn’t much at all. The nearly $8000 Discover the World program fee covers housing and a meal plan that varies depending on where you are.

None of this is news to most people reading this, we know. So why are we bringing it up? Well, we’re always quick to criticize St. John’s for things it doesn’t do well. But then when it does something close to perfectly, we take it for granted. Other students from across the country pay to study at St. John’s campuses in Rome, while we simply have to fiddle with our UIS to open the world up to us for barely more than our normal tuition plus room and board.

We at the Torch sometimes roll our eyes at the University’s “Catholic, Vincentian and Metropolitan” mission, but the low barrier to entry of the study abroad programs really embodies what we believe the metropolitan part of the mission to be. In addition to having our eyes opened culturally by living in Queens, we also have unique opportunities to dive into the cultural lifestyles of the French, Romans and Spanish, among others.

This isn’t just one crazy editor saying this either. Five members of the editorial board have seen the world in some capacity thanks to St. John’s. Some of us weren’t exactly thrilled with the idea of doing it at all before we went, but afterward, every one of us agrees that it was probably one of the best decisions of our lives.

We urge anybody who hasn’t studied abroad to consider doing so, and anybody who has to give St. John’s a big “thanks!”