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Yellow and green pins

November 10, 2010   I had a meeting to discuss study abroad the other day. I left the meeting with quite a bit to think about as I realized that I have absolutely no idea where on earth I want to live for a semester.

I know what I want to study: the environment. I would say that’s a pretty good start. There are many programs all over the world that would provide excellent opportunities to study the environment and sustainable development. And they’re all places to which I would like to travel.

At home, I have a map of the world on my bedroom wall, and I put yellow push-pins in all of the places that I would like to visit at some point in my life. When I return from any one of these locations, I change the pin from yellow to green. There's much more yellow then there is green at the moment. New Zealand, Zanzibar, Australia, Italy…all of these places have yellow pins, and there is not enough time in a semester to be able to return home and switch all four of these pins to green.

And then there’s the consideration of how I want to go about learning what I set out to study. Do I want to do an independent research project? Or do I spend the semester attending a university? The two each provide amazing experiences that are both quite different from a semester in the Hamilton College bubble. At the moment, I don’t know the answer to these questions. I don’t even know what classes I’m taking next semester and I register in about a week.

The most wonderful problem with study abroad meetings for me is that Carol Drogus, Associate Dean of Students for Off-Campus Study & International Student Advisor, brings so many different programs to my attention and they all seem like something that I would love to do. I've had a number of these meetings now and each time I go in with an idea of what I want to do and I always leave with about five more possible programs that caught my attention. They just happen to be on opposite sides of the globe.

I guess for now I’m going to have to be content with the fact that I simply don’t know where I want to study and I have a bit of time to think before I make a decision. Any one of the available options would be nothing short of fantastic. I have time to make pro-con lists and think about what I want to do, what I can afford, what experience I would like to have during my time off of the Hill, how the credits will transfer, what requirements I need to have out of the way before I can submit my leave of absence and buy a plane ticket. I also have to be accepted to a program, but that's a whole other can of worms.

Baby steps...it's probably a good idea to pick a program first. But knowing how indecisive I am, I’ll probably end up throwing darts at a map and seeing where they land.