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### Exploring the Trend: The Growing Exodus of Reed College Students Overseas

By: Adrian Keller Feld

5th February 2024

imageGraph provided by Alberto del Río Malo, Director of the IPO

The global pandemic brought a standstill to international study abroad programs. However, as restrictions eased, Reed students enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to study abroad in unprecedented numbers. According to a graph shared with the Quest by the International Program’s Office (IPO) Director (refer to image above), the current academic year 2023-2024 witnessed a significant surge in the number of students studying abroad, reaching 139. This marks a remarkable 109.7% increase from the average of 66 students over the seven years preceding the COVID-19 pandemic. This article delves into this surge by capturing personal narratives through interviews with three students who have recently returned from or are currently engaged in studying abroad. This topic holds personal significance for me, having previously studied abroad and shared my experiences in past Quest articles. Currently, I am also employed as a student worker in the IPO.

Aakash Mishra ‘25, a student majoring in Anthropology, embarked on his study abroad journey just last semester in the fall of 2023 at the American University of Paris (AUP) in France. Reflecting on his decision to study abroad, Mishra explained, “A year ago, the idea of studying abroad, especially in Paris where French is spoken, seemed distant as I had no knowledge of the language. However, my frequent interactions with friends residing in the French house ignited my interest.” Mishra further elaborated, “Attending events at the French house led me to download Duolingo and start learning French. Around the same time, a close friend who was planning to study in Madrid encouraged me to speak with Alberto del Río Malo, the IPO Director. Following our conversation, where he displayed immense support and enthusiasm, he presented me with various program options. Eventually, after careful consideration, I chose the American University of Paris, despite my initial concerns about the language barrier. Alberto’s unwavering support played a pivotal role in my decision to study abroad.”

Mishra’s experience of studying in Paris without prior knowledge of French underscores the evolving opportunities within Reed’s Study Abroad programs. Recently, Reed has introduced programs that allow students to study in non-English speaking countries while completing coursework in English. Mishra acknowledged this shift, stating, “Having access to an English-language university through our partnership was instrumental in enhancing accessibility. Although I could have explored other programs, the anthropology curriculum at AUP stood out. During discussions with Charlene Makley, the department chair, she reviewed syllabi from various programs and endorsed the AUP curriculum, which resonated with my academic interests.”

In contrast to Mishra’s English-taught program in Paris, Reed offers another program in the city conducted entirely in French. Milo Wetherall ‘24, a student majoring in History and Literature, pursued his study abroad experience in the fall of 2022 at the Center for University Programs Abroad Paris (CUPA), where he immersed himself in French-taught courses across multiple universities in Paris. Wetherall’s academic pursuits extended to the Middlebury Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Oxford, England, in the spring of 2023, and participation in the Reed in Rome program during the recent winter break. Wetherall expressed his early desire to study abroad, recalling, “As a freshman, I initially gravitated towards programs in England due to my limited foreign language skills. However, the introduction of programs like AUP that facilitate English-language instruction in non-English speaking countries has broadened opportunities for students like me.” While his decision to attend Reed was not solely influenced by its study abroad offerings, Wetherall commended the program’s evolution over the years under the leadership of Alberto del Río Malo, the current Director of the International Programs Office.

Wetherall credited the French and English departments for shaping his study abroad journey. He shared, “The faculty in both departments played a significant role in guiding my academic trajectory. Despite initially being a History major, my exposure to study abroad opportunities influenced my transition to History and Literature. Professors Catherine Witt and Hugh Hochman from the French department actively promoted programs like CUPA, fostering student engagement and participation. Their encouragement, coupled with my two years of French studies at Reed, instilled confidence in me to pursue international academic experiences.”

Embracing a multi-faceted approach to studying abroad, Hannah Xie ‘25, a Political Science major, embarked on a study abroad adventure in Australia during the spring of 2023 and is currently midway through a year-long program in London. Xie, akin to Wetherall, expressed her pre-existing interest in studying abroad, although she initially found the process daunting. She remarked, “Navigating the initial steps towards studying abroad seemed overwhelming at first. However, after seeking guidance from Alberto, the process became clearer. His assistance in deciphering the website instructions and aligning my academic goals with suitable university programs was invaluable.”

The tenure of Alberto del Río Malo at Reed has witnessed a significant overhaul in the study abroad application process, streamlining it for students. The IPO website underwent substantial revisions, condensing the application steps from eight to three and transitioning paper forms to digital formats, easing communication and credit approval processes with campus stakeholders. The students interviewed unanimously lauded del Río Malo for his unwavering support and guidance throughout their study abroad endeavors.

In a departure from traditional semester or year-long study programs, the IPO and the GLAM department recently piloted a ‘Faculty-Led Program’ of shorter duration known as Reed in Rome. This program, conducted over the winter break, offered a two-week immersive experience exploring Rome. Wetherall, a participant in this program, described it as a guided tour enriched with academic presentations at various historical sites. Led by Reed GLAM Professors Sonia Sabnis and Tom Landvatter, the program provided a unique learning platform that transcended conventional classroom settings. Wetherall highlighted the program’s interdisciplinary nature, emphasizing the enriching interactions with faculty and peers across diverse academic backgrounds.

The introduction of such short-term immersive programs garnered praise from students, with Wetherall advocating for similar initiatives across departments. He emphasized, “These brief excursion programs spanning two weeks or ten days offer a captivating avenue for student engagement and interdisciplinary learning. The exposure to varied academic interests and perspectives, particularly in fields outside my primary focus, has been immensely rewarding.” Wetherall hinted at upcoming projects by Reed in Rome at Renn Fayre, underscoring the program’s enduring impact on the Reed community.

The recent enhancements in Reed’s study abroad application system, orchestrated by Alberto del Río Malo, have significantly eased the process for aspiring students. With a surge in student interest post-pandemic, Reed stands prepared to support students in navigating their study abroad journeys. The seamless transition of applications and the assurance of financial aid continuity have empowered students to explore diverse academic landscapes and cultural experiences. As the application cycle unfolds, prospective students are encouraged to initiate the process promptly, given the impending deadlines in April. For comprehensive information on studying abroad at Reed, refer to the official website. The evolving study abroad landscape at Reed, coupled with the proactive measures implemented by the IPO, sets the stage for a promising future of international academic exploration.