Patience is Key: Navigating the Study Abroad Application Process

International Business major Alex Lynch ’24 will study abroad in Dubrovnik, Croatia during the spring of 2023.

As an International Business major, I knew since my first year at Elizabethtown College that one day, I was going to study abroad. During my first two years, I was told that the best thing I could do was look into study abroad programs from time to time and start thinking about where I might want to go. As someone who cares more about traveling than almost anything else in the world, my mind would always race from program to program, not wanting to choose just one. 

Buildings with bright orange roofs and old castles are surrounded by dense forests and a deep blue body of water.

I was interested in programs ranging from Estonia to Belgium, Iceland to Australia, and Botswana to Scotland. It became such a daunting task to pick just one. Until it wasn’t. During the weeks leading up to my junior year, the spring semester of which I would be studying abroad, Jaime Ramos II, our study abroad advisor, emailed me and told me about some new French-speaking programs that had just been added, one of which was in Geneva, Switzerland. I researched the program and fell in love with it quickly. Switzerland had always been a bucket list destination for me. 

Upon arriving for the fall semester, Jaime and I got to work immediately, meeting multiple times a week to work on my application. The Geneva program was a special program because it was an international scholars program, meaning that, should I get accepted, I would be considered a “scholar in residence” who would be working on a professional research project during my time in Switzerland. The idea of this was very attractive to me, and I was looking forward to making this program happen. 

After submitting my application, the next step was waiting to hear back. I knew that after hearing back, I would have a series of interviews to go through before being formally accepted. The only issue was, it took a while to hear back. Deadlines were approaching, and I was getting nervous. Jaime had my back throughout this whole process, and he made sure that I was still going to be studying abroad during the spring 2023 semester. Once I heard back from the University of Geneva, I spoke with someone from the university about how my project would be structured, and it ended up being vastly different from our expectations. With Jaime’s guidance, I decided not to proceed with this program. 

We were back to square one, and I needed to apply for my visa very soon. Jaime and I began looking at other programs, and it was the program in Dubrovnik, Croatia that stood out to me. We did a lot of research into this program and determined that this would be the best plan of action moving forward. While at first, it was disheartening to have to look for a second-choice program after being sold on the idea of Geneva, I became more excited about the prospect of Croatia than I ever could have imagined. Dubrovnik is located in a part of Europe that is far less talked about than countries like France, Germany, and Italy, but it has so much to offer. I will be traveling to places like Plitvice Lakes National Park, Mostar, Bosnia, Split, Croatia, and likely much more.

The point of this post is if the study abroad process is giving you setbacks, if you feel that things are not going your way, just keep at it. There are so many hidden gems in these programs, and you will find the best program for you. Not to mention, you’re in the right place. Etown has so many wonderful programs, and the study abroad office is fantastic at what they do. Be patient, and you will get where you have always dreamed of going.

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