Hoos abroad for January Term

A preview of international course offerings

lfjtermcourtesyjoslynchesson

January term courses abroad offer students a unique opportunity to learn in a new environment. 

Courtesy Joslyn Chesson

With winter break rapidly approaching, University students are pressed to think about their future course load — especially if they are participating in one of 2017’s January Term classes. The University offers a wide array of academic courses both on Grounds and abroad in January.

University Study Abroad courses during the January term span from locations such as Argentina, Belize and Morocco and Ghana, Australia and New Zealand and are offered through the Commerce and Nursing Schools, the Anthropology Department and many others.

University alumna Holly O’Hara traveled to Nicaragua with the Sustainability and Public Health Program last January.

“I would say that the experience for me could not have been more positive,” O’Hara said. “I honestly had this clicking moment while I was there that I don’t think I would have gotten in the classroom.”

The J-Term courses abroad offer students who many not have another opportunity to study outside the country during the school year or during the summer term the chance explore other countries.

“I’ve always wanted to go abroad, but didn’t want to miss out on things at U.Va. because I love it so much,” fourth-year Commerce student Rachel Nelson said. “So the J-Term abroad was the perfect option for me.”

With a full course condensed into just a handful of weeks, January terms allow students the opportunity to foster close relationships with professors and other classmates.

“The professors are what made the trip,” O’Hara said. “The nursing professor, Emma Mitchell, was pretty much in charge of most of the trip and she was just so passionate about Nicaragua.”

University alumna Victoria Stetekluh studied abroad for a full semester during the fall of 2014 in Prague and also participated in the German Department’s J-Term in Berlin last January.

“As much as I love U.Va. I just wanted to be abroad again so I looked for another opportunity to study abroad,” Stetekluh said. “My grandmother is from Berlin and the fact that they have a class on the history of Germany, I thought it was the best class for me because it was something I was actually interested in.”

While semester long abroad programs offer an extended amount of time to explore other countries, J-Terms generally have a more structured schedule.

“We never really went off on our own because of safety reasons and also we were so busy because our class activities were going out and exploring,” O’Hara said. “It was so hands on and in the field that our day-to-day class wasn’t in a classroom we were out and about exploring Nicaragua and learning as we kind of went throughout the day.”

Third-year Engineering student Shannon Grew is traveling to Argentina this January through the combined Systems Case Study and Commerce School program. Grew said the specifics of the January term course — which include working at a winery to improve its business — really drew her to the program.

“It’s a way different experience than you could get in a classroom here and I was looking for something different and worthwhile, maybe even fun, to add to and take a break from the usual U.Va. education,” Grew said.

Through the University’s January term study abroad programs students are able to learn about other cultures while simultaneously growing closer with professors and classmates.

For current University students, January term tuition for classes offered at U.Va. is $377 per credit hour for Virginia residents and $1,347 per credit hour for out-of-state students. Study abroad program costs vary based on travel and lodging costs. Programs like U.Va. in Paris cost $2,825 for Virginia residents and $3,113 for out-of-state students, while U.Va. in Argentina totals to $3,495 for Virginia residents and $3,783 for out-of-state students.

All current undergraduate students are eligible to apply for need-based financial aid, however there is not merit-based aid to supplement the cost. Grant funding is not guaranteed even if a student receives aid during the fall and spring due to the optional nature of January term courses.

“If you can afford it, I think everyone should almost be forced into going abroad because it is such an important experience,” Stetekluh said.

Despite the cost, one of the things that makes traveling abroad through a University program so special is that students are able to grow close with classmates they may have never had the chance to bond with otherwise.

“I really liked it because I felt like I could become friends with anyone on the program and I feel like I successfully did become friends with everyone,” O’Hara said. “It was cool because it was a lot of people from all different years and it was amazing to get to know everyone because it was so easy in that context.”

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