While most first-year students begin their first semesters at college learning their way around campus and getting accustomed to dining hall food, some at Hamilton have the opportunity to study abroad in London.
These students, who arrive on the Hill in January and earn the right to be called a “Jan,” can still graduate on time with their first-year class after transferring credits from London. Other Jans took part in the SEA Semester in Woods Hole, Mass., took classes near their homes, or worked on a political campaign.
Hamilton offers January admission to several dozen students each year. The January admission option allows the College to extend more offers of admission to strong and talented students while also filling vacancies created by Hamilton students who are studying abroad during the spring semester.
Olivia Maddox ’20 is a Jan who joined the campus in 2017; the latest group, members of the Class of ’21, will arrive on campus on Jan. 12.
It goes without saying that London is very different from the small town of Clinton that students visit on their college tour. Nevertheless, Maddox realizes that her semester abroad provided her with experiences not many others her age could share.
“My favorite part about being a Jan was definitely being able to live in London. I left the option to be a Jan open, because I was excited to live in a new city for my first semester,” Maddox said. “I loved the freedom of being able to walk anywhere I wanted to, being able to travel to different places, and visit friends in different countries.”
The College’s Freshman Fall in London Program, in coordination with Arcadia University’s College of Global Studies also takes advantage of its location. Arcadia offers classes that relate to British culture, so students can elect to take an art history course that takes them to a different museum each week or a government course that discusses current events in British parliament. In addition, all Hamilton students are required to take a Cross-Cultural Connections course to help bridge the gap between American and British cultural differences.
The best part about living in London was being able to experience the big and little things with people whom you just met, and watch as they turn into some of your closest friends.
Nevertheless, it can be difficult to jump into a different lifestyle at 17 or 18 years of age. While students may bask in the glory of living in an apartment all by themselves, they must also be aware of the responsibilities of living independently.
“Something I was a little nervous about was budgeting my money to take care of myself. For the first time, I was buying all my groceries and cooking three meals a day,” Maddox said.
She quickly found a routine that helped her stay on top of budgeting. She recommends writing a list of food for the week ahead and researching some basic recipes. Sharing food with her roommates and dining out are other options.
Besides learning basic self-care, Jans should enjoy their time in London. Maddox urges future Jans to see plays in the theater district and exhibits at art museums such as the Tate Modern or the Victoria and Albert Museum.
For class of 2021 Jans coming to the Hill, Maddox warns that the transition, like any other, may be difficult at first.
“The most important piece of advice I would give to Jans would be to join a team or a club that you are interested in. This is an easy way to make new friends while doing something you enjoy,” Maddox said.
She also recommends reaching out to the Career Center for support with an on-campus job or finding internships in the future.
Aside from enriching the undergraduate experience and fostering independent growth, the Jan program is another opportunity for a group of students who otherwise may not have met to become closer.
“The best part about living in London was being able to experience the big and little things with people whom you just met, and watch as they turn into some of your closest friends,” Maddox said.