#study abroad
LectureHop: A First Glimpse of North Korea

+1 for guardian angels

On Tuesday, students, professors, and United Nations officials crowded the 15th floor of the International Affairs building in order to listen to a panel speak about SIPA’s May 2012 trip to North Korea, the first and last trip of its kind at Columbia. East Asian aficionado Roberta Barnett retells their harrowing tale.

The panel, composed mainly of the fifteen students and professors Charles K. Armstrong and Jeong-Ho Roh, was moderated by trip coordinator Dr. Elisabeth Lindenmayer, director of SIPA’s United Nations Studies program.

The seven-day trip was the brainchild of SIPA student Taeyoung Kim, who proposed the idea to Dr. Lindenmayer last year.  Lindenmayer used her connections within the UN to gain a formal invitation to North Korea.  Students then applied to be part of the team that visited in the spring.  The acceptees were a diverse group, including American and South Korean citizens.  Over the course of the trip, the group toured Pyongyang  schools, drove through the countryside, and even visited an amusement park.

“There are over 140 people here, and over 190 outside on the waitlist.  This shows just how important North Korea is to us, East Asia, and the rest of the world,” began Kim. He went on to cite the power of ideology and the dire economic situation in North Korea as his most salient observations.  For example, when purchasing items in a store near the southern border, there was no way to get change back.  He either had to purchase more items or give up his change.

See the students’ experiences after the jump

Housingmaster: Hailing From Overseas

Q: I’m entering a suite with a few other guys, one of whom is studying abroad this semester. I know there are some extra steps we have to take, like designating a proxy for housing selection, but are there any other pitfalls that housing won’t tell me about until we fall into them?

A: Put simply, no.

Students who study abroad via a Columbia-approved program for a semester (or two) are guaranteed housing when they get back. Since your group member is studying abroad in the Spring semester, he will register online like he normally would for room selection—you can only ask that he doesn’t choose a pretentious username in the language he’s now “fluent in” to show off his newly polished linguistic skills—and he will join your suite selection group.

Within the online registration, he’ll have the option to select a proxy. This proxy, who will be responsible for showing up to room selection in John Jay and physically choosing his room in the suite, can even be another member of your suite group. Then, the group member who is abroad must again access the online registration form, and sign his own occupancy agreement.

Beyond this measure, everything will work the same way. Your suite will show up, and if all goes well, pick your suite and individual rooms within the suite. If not, you’ll spend the next hour bingeing on Smarties that the nice Housing people have provided in mass quantities, so it’s pretty much win-win.

Saturday Morning Cartoons: Foreign Correspondent Edition

Bwog is occasionally inclined to showcase the artistic talent of the Columbia community. One of our renegade ‘toonists, Jamila Barra, is abroad in Argentina this semester studying Spanish (duh), Latin American philosophy, drawing, and ceramics. In her drawings, she captures telltale figments of everyday life in Mendoza and Chile. When Bwog asked her to articulate some of her thoughts, she said she’d been encountering “lots of questions about identity and morality and the point of nations that I hadn’t heard asked before,” and was challenged by art classes that were “much more interested in imagination and self-expression” than on technique. 

Submit any and all ‘toons to tips@bwog.com!

Jamila's host, Abuela: "And again they invite me for dinner.. I wish they'd let me stay home! I can let one rip whenever I like and nobody hears me."

A park scene from Mendoza

"Two US dudes walking around in Valparaíso in Chile"

Burst the Columbia Bubble
Woman with globe

Pictured: studying a broad

And burst it big! If you’re interested in studying abroad next semester or next year, it behooves you to dash over to 602 Hamilton at 8:15 this evening. The Office of Global Programs (OGP) is hosting a Study Abroad General Info Session for all interested undergrads. They’ll cover eligibility, types of programs, language requirements, programs for scientists & engineers, credit, and more! Students who have previously studied abroad will share stories of their adventures in the great big world: living in Senegalese home stays, managing the Argentine transport system, acing the end of term exams at LSE in London, and experiencing la vie française in Paris.

But wait, there’s more! If you are interested in studying abroad, Bwog is here to help! Read on, brave travelers.

Studying abroad is undoubtedly one of the most exciting experiences a college student can have, but the application process can seem slightly daunting at best. To give you a hand on your long winding road to the airport, Bwog presents our finest tips and tricks for studying abroad.

  1. Know your deadlines. The OGP application deadline for the coming spring semester is October 1st, which is like, not a lot of days away. Most universities/programs also have application deadlines on September 30th or October 1st, so if you haven’t gotten far into the process yet, it’s time to kick your Art Hum reading to the curb (see it in real life, fool), reconcile that existential crisis about leaving the city, and start filling out forms like there’s no tomorrow!
  2. Getting your transcript is E-Z! There’s no need to send your CSA advisor thirty emails or scramble over printing out one of those extremely dubious-looking SSOL grade listings. Just head on over to 210 Kent, and kindly ask someone in the Student Services Office for a copy of your transcript. All you need is your ID—if you just need a quick printout, you don’t even have to fill out a request form. Score.
  3. Remember not to buy your stamps at the Package Center. Kill two birds with one administrative stone by picking up your stamps at the post office on 112th between Broadway and Amsterdam—right next to Book Culture—where you can also overnight your application so that it gets to London or Kathmandu or Moscow on time. If the line is interminably long, head down to the infinitely speedier 104th office.
  4. Need clearance to study abroad, like, now? Study Abroad King, Dean Carpenter, has office hours from 2 to 4 on Thursday in the Office of Global Programs, 606 Kent. Get there early to beat the rush—there’s sure to be a long line this week, so prep to miss any classes you have during that time.
  5. Meet with every advisor you have ever. If you haven’t done so yet, make email appointments with anyone who is tangentially related to your educational career. They will be crucial along the way to sign forms, tell you which classes you should or shouldn’t take, and generally let you know if you’ll still be able to graduate when you return.
  6. Apply for your passport and/or visa. Some countries will make you wait until you are accepted by a host university before you can apply for a visa, but if you don’t have a passport, take care of that ASAP! The U.S. government runs even more slowly than the University Senate, and you don’t want to be stuck paying ridiculous surcharges for expedited shipping.
  7. Passport pictures are expensive. Bwog spent 60 miserable dollars at Duane Reade today (since our abroad program inexplicably requires 12 photos) before realizing there was a better way that involved much less lite-music listening. A set of two passport photos are $8.99 at Ivy League Stationers, but $9.99 at Duane Reade at $10.99 at Village Copier. Plus, the Ivy League guys are some of the friendliest in town, and sell Gelly Roll Pens.

Et voila! No Morningside February for you, friend!

Pun only a dad would make via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s Go Europe

Europe is scary! For those of you considering a summer romp through the continental continent, Caitlyn Levin, an Actual European, details her journey through Europe and describes the workings of the mysterious Eurail system.

The cultured man’s choo-choo train.

If you’re thinking about traveling around Europe this summer, you’ve probably already heard the term “Eurail” thrown around, and if you’re anything like me, you have no idea what it means, because (being fairly ignorant of how train travel works) the concept is completely new. I was in a similar situation this past Spring Break, when I decided to embrace my Junior year abroad and travel forth into the great unknown of Europe–scary, I know. Friends told me that if you’re making the great train trip, a Eurail pass is the way to go. There’s an abundance of information on the Internet about Eurail passes, but most of it is confusing who have never traveled anywhere in Europe by train before.

Thrown into deep confusion, my research into these multi-faceted passes began.

Basically, a Eurail pass is a train ticket that enables you to take multiple trains through multiple cities on multiple days. Simple, right? They’re often recommended to people, especially young people, who want to travel via train through Europe with the flexibility to plan their course as they move. It sounds easy—and for the most part, it is—but it’s important to do research beforehand to figure out whether or not you actually need one.

The passes are produced by Eurail Group, a non-profit organization, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Firstly, they’re broken down into four categories:

  • One-country passes get you anywhere you want within the country you choose
  • Regional passes get you through two countries
  • Select passes allow you to “select” three to five countries
  • Global passes give you virtually free reign to run wild and free through the continent

These passes vary in price depending on which countries you choose, and how many “travel days” you want to have. “What is a travel day?!” you shout. Read on to find out.

Columbia Goes Global: Studying Abroad

Alma revamped: new and improved model, now featuring several balloons in honor of the Global conference.

On April 20, Columbia hosted a conference called “Columbia Goes Global: The Next 50 Years,” featuring speakers like PrezBo and Kenneth Prewitt. Several Bwoggers headed over to cover parts of the event. The first installment comes from studying-anywhere-but-Butler enthusiast Victoria Wills, who reports from the “A New Way to Study Abroad” segment of the event.

When Columbia announced its full-day “Columbia Goes Global” event, including a presentation about “A New Way to Study Abroad,” many hoped for follow-up to President Bollinger’s fireside chat proposition of an expenses-paid fifth year abroad.  Sadly, PrezBo and his enigmatic plan were far from the topic of this chat.  Instead, Interim Director of Columbia Global Centers Europe Victoria de Grazia presented a powerpoint on a new new way Columbia students will study abroad: at Reid Hall, in Paris.

“At Reid Hall?” you might ask, “doesn’t Columbia already have programs at Reid Hall?”  Well… yeah. But, once it’s renamed an Advanced School for Global Studies (and presumably decked out in the cutting-edge grass photoshopped into the Parisian alleyways de Grazia’s powerpoint slides), the Reid Hall we know and love will become “Reid Hall 2020,” the way of the future.  On a serious note, de Grazia offered insightful comments on the need for undergraduate programs that integrate students more fully in the language and culture of the host nation, and drew interesting comparisons back to her own immersive study abroad experience in Europe and North Africa in the 1960s with Smith College.

Read more after the jump!

Egypt Update

Bwog just received the following email from Robert Hornsby, Director of Media Relations at Columbia. We’re glad everyone made it out safely!

A number of University offices worked diligently in collaboration to assist members of the Columbia community with travel arrangements from Egypt, and we are happy to report that to the best of our knowledge based on current information, our students and faculty who were there are accounted for and relocated to safe destinations of their choice.

Columbia Students Safely Return from Egypt

Ellen Morris, Academic Director of the semester abroad program, confirmed the Columbia students studying at NYU’s Amheida archeology program were safely evacuated from Egypt yesterday evening. After stopping in Dubai, they are due back in New York City today. “For the rest of the semester,” Morris writes, the CU & BC students will be studying abroad in the Village (in NYU housing).” All the way downtown!

We’re very happy to hear you’re all safe!

Why SEAS Should Read Books

Freshling CCSC candidates are clearly not the only ones who confuse pi and rho as evinced by this cringe-worthy abomination below, for which we have SEAS to thank.  Thank you!  What would Gerry Visco say?!

Photo by HEH

Consider a Semi-Permanent Break from the Morningside Bubble

This globe is sad--probably because he never studied abroad!!

Hang on to your hats, folks. The Study Abroad Fair is today! If you’re at all interested in leaving “Upstate Manhattan” for a semester or two, head over to the fair in Roone Auditorium at 12:30 p.m.. Are French home-stays as awkward as everyone says they are? Where’s the best place to meet cute Italian guys? You’ll find the answers to these questions (in addition to many other more relevant ones, we hope) at the Study Abroad Fair. Go check it out.

Photo from flickr/JohnLeGear

Leaving The Bubble: Bureaucracy Edition

See you there! Via Wikimedia

A lot of study abroad applications are due this Friday, October 1, and if you happen to be a member of the Class of 2012 eager to leave Morningside next semester, your days have been filled with a few extra doses of Existential Crisis and lots of paperwork. Here are a few tips to make your life a little easier, now that we’re about 48 hours away from the deadline.

  • Getting your transcript is E-Z! Instead of triple-emailing your advisor, go to 210 Kent, fill out the transcript request form (you’ll find it to your left, outside the door), pass it to an employee at the desk. She’ll print your transcript (as many copies as you need!) and put them in a fancy Columbia Office of the Registrar envelope.
  • Passport pictures are expensive. Bwog spent 60 miserable dollars at Duane Reade today (since our abroad program inexplicably requires 12 photos) before realizing there was a better way that involved much less lite-music listening. A set of two passport photos are $8.99 at Ivy League Stationers, but $9.99 at Duane Reade at $10.99 at Village Copier. Plus, the Ivy League guys are some of the friendliest in town.
  • Remember not to buy your stamps at the Package Center. Kill two birds with one administrative stone by picking up your stamps at the post office on 112th between Broadway and Amsterdam, right next to Book Culture, where you can also overnight your application so that it gets to London or Kathmandu or Moscow on time.
  • Need clearance to study abroad, like, now? Study Abroad King, Dean Carpenter’s office  hours are from 1:30 to 4 in 105 Carman, by the Carman computer lab. And if you need to rush it to the Office of Global Programs, don’t be fooled! It’s not in Lewisohn anymore, it’s on 606 Kent.
  • If you can’t get your shit together on time, find your program and plead with them between 12:30-3:30 in Roone this Friday at the Study Abroad fair.

Et voila! No Morningside February for you, friend!

Free Food and Study Abroad Shortcuts!

Not to say that anyone who goes to study in a country that requires little or no foreign language proficiency is taking a shortcut. However, if you would like to study abroad somewhere other than wherever your foreign language requirement can get you, you might want a shortcut around taking another two years of language beforehand. 

If you’re thinking along those lines and you’re hungry, stop by CCSC 2011 & 2012′s info event, Study Abroad Programs in English. Free pizza will be served, and you can learn about all the study abroad programs that you are eligible for without any proficiency in a foreign language, or with a proficiency you can get in a semester.

And that’s more than just the UK – South Africa, the Czech Republic, and Austria are all favorites with little or no pre-requesite language. Information about keeping up with the Core while abroad will also be provided at this event. It all goes down from 4:00-6:00 pm today in Lerner C555.

QuickBW: Winter Travels


The November issue of
The Blue and White is on racks near you! This month, we went abroad, into Morningside, and outside of conventional history.

The only feature that combines public nudity in Japan with being a Mormon in France (plus music and food from Argentina, Russia, and Turkey).

The chain store invades Morningside Heights.

Imagine a Columbia where athletes and protestors are the same people.

Meet veterans of the Iraq War, the hunger strike, and the campaign trail

It may be the 25th anniversary of coeducation at Columbia, but even the university seems to have forgotten.

From the Issue: Terra Cognita

From the November issue of The Blue and White, we bring you study abroad dispatches from Argentina and France written by correspondents Hannah Goldfield and Ren McKnight.  Hard copies will be on the (nonexistent) racks on Monday!

Argentina

I am already thinking about the things I will miss. I’ve been in South America since May and the things I miss about home are starting to gnaw at me. It doesn’t help that my body, accustomed to 21 years of crisp, chilly, autumnal November, is disoriented by the intense, impending Argentine summer, which is beautiful but feels misplaced, almost artificial.

argentinaThe things I will miss about Buenos Aires mostly involve food. Milanesa: beef pounded thin, battered in egg and breadcrumbs, then both fried and baked. My host family eats it once a week, served cold with a salad of lettuce and tomatoes. Empanadas, which can be purchased on just about any block of the city, although the style and quality can differ greatly. I prefer baked over fried, filled with chopped meat, hard-boiled egg, and olives, or sweet corn. And then there are the steaks. It’s true what they say about Argentina: steak is what’s for dinner. There is nothing so tantalizing as the smell of thick cuts of beef roasting over hot charcoal, nothing so satisfying as each juicy bite of my favorite meat-centered meal: ribeye, accompanied by French fries or a puree of squash and washed down with a great Malbec.      (more…)

Fireless Chat: SEAS Gives it a Try

Taking a cue from PrezBo, SEAS hosted its own “fireside” chat Monday night to address students’ concerns on a broad range of topics. 

The digs were markedly less than splendiforous than 60 Morningside Drive – the Carleton Lounge on the first floor of Mudd is less than inviting, as its occupants often feel like they’re inside some sort of fishbowl with large windows looking outside at ground level.

And it was not a solo show. From SEAS, Interim Dean Geri Navratil hosted with Vice Dean Mort Friedman, who began teaching at Columbia in 1956.  Three deans from Student Affairs were also present.  Though Navratil chose questioners and commented, Friedman did most of the talking.

From the beginning, Friedman’s passion was evident.  He was quite interested in student life at SEAS and about their opinions as to the SEAS curriculum, which he oversees.  The evening’s questions covered a broad range of topics, though Friedman managed to each of them back to his broad vision for SEAS in the twenty-first century.  Navratil even used Friedman’s now-famous quotation that graces every SEAS bulletin: “Engineering is the liberal art of the twenty-first century.”  Friedman was always quick to assure the attendees that Columbia engineers would graduate as the most well-rounded engineers.  Indeed, he is responsible for implementing the now twenty-some minors available to SEAS students over the last ten years.
(more…)