by | Hannah Rehak ’15

Although Macalester encourages its U.S. students to study abroad during their junior year, some students have trouble finding programs that will allow them to graduate on time. This is particularly true for students majoring in the hard sciences, who—unlike those in international studies or anthropology—are not required to go abroad and often have a specific course sequence to complete.

However, math and science majors who truly want to study overseas can. And thanks to advising from the International Center, support from their professors, and a strong motivation to try something new, many students find studying away to be greatly rewarding.

Andrew Banman ’15 (Beaverton, Ore.), a math and physics double major, enrolled directly at the University of Edinburgh last spring. While there he took two courses in math and one in physics, all of which transferred back to Macalester. Adjusting to a different institution with larger lectures, a smaller daily workload, and more heavily weighted final exams was challenging, says Banman, but forced him to be more independent and to develop better study habits.

Chemistry major Ruth Pardini ’15 (Solon, Iowa), chose Mac’s exchange program at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Although she never expected to live in Southeast Asia, says Pardini, when she sought a university where language wouldn’t be a problem and her credits could transfer, NTU stood out as the best choice.

Pardini took a history class, two chemistry classes, and a chemistry lab, making for a schedule more flexible than she typically has at Mac. In her free time she walked the city, getting to know the ins and outs of the small island nation. During the semester’s second half, Pardini lived with a student from China. She spent spring break traveling to Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand with new friends from all over the world.

Collin Barry ‘15 (Lakeville, Minn.), is a biology major who studied at the Danish Institute for Study abroad (DIS) in Copenhagen. Barry took classes and worked with a Danish graduate student in a bioorganic chemistry lab at the University of Copenhagen. His classes took a hands-on approach: he was even taught to draw blood and got to try his hand at putting in an IV (a skill he practiced in class on fellow DIS and Mac student, Spencer Weckwerth ’15). Barry also managed to find time to visit 10 major European cities during his term abroad.

Though the time away allowed Banman, Pardini, and Barry to explore new cities, faces, and elements of their respective disciplines, the three agree that it’s good to be back on campus. “The bar is set higher at Mac”, says Barry, “and that’s a good thing.”

November 25 2014

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