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The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Sunscreen and stress-free: Study abroad programs take students to new sights during spring break

Sunscreen and stress-free: Study abroad programs take students to new sights during spring break
Mara Logan

With DePaul University’s unusual quarter schedule, many opportunities for students to travel during the short 10 weeks are lost, as students’ schedules become jam-packed with core classes. 

Some of DePaul’s study abroad programs allow students to travel during spring break by centering programs between the winter and spring quarters.

Elizabeth Hall, DePaul’s study abroad program manager, said more students are taking advantage of spring break trips. 

With the increasing interest in studying abroad, more programs are planned in the future for students looking to explore “brand-new programs” in places like Malaysia, the United Kingdom and Rwanda. 

The cost of trips varies from program to program, but early applicants are automatically considered for a scholarship based on a combination of financial needs and the student’s academic record. Students are also encouraged to apply for additional scholarships to cover tuition, program and travel fees. 

“I like that it’s an option,” said Melanie Madjarov, a senior majoring in business administration. “It gives students more freedom and accessibility to travel if a full semester isn’t realistic.”

Last year, Madjarov traveled to Italy as part of the St. Francis of Assisi Pilgrimage program, along with classmates Alia Palomino and Ximena Sanchez to fulfill their Focal Point Seminar required for first-year students.

Hall said the university offers both traditional term-long programs that last a quarter or longer and short-term, faculty-led programs of one to three weeks. Short-term programs typically occur during breaks in the quarter with many programs being offered in December, during spring break or over the summer.

As students’ schedules vary from college to college, Madjarov knew studying abroad during the quarter term was not a possibility due to the hectic course schedule for her senior year.

“I was hoping to squeeze in one last study abroad program, but due to the way my credits are planned — I only had time during spring break,”  Madjarov said.

She said she was happy with the option to travel during the break, as it gave her and her classmates ample time to learn about the sites they’d visit and the culture before they traveled. 

The program requires students to complete coursework before the trip to encourage students to fully take in the experience.  

Palomino, a sophomore majoring in health science, said the trip allowed her to visit a place that held significant meaning to her grandmother.

“As a Catholic, it allowed me to follow in my family’s footsteps of taking a pilgrimage — accomplishing my 92-year-old grandmother’s dream of visiting Assisi,”  Palomino said.

Visiting churches such as Santa Maria Maggiore and Oratorio dei Pellegrini in Assisi, as well as the Trevi Fountain and Colosseum in Rome, Italy, Palomino and her classmates expressed their happiness in seeing first-hand the places they studied during winter quarter.

While a majority of their time was spent with tour guides traversing them through the city, Sanchez, a sophomore majoring in psychology, said that the best part of the trip was getting to explore during their solo hours and meeting the locals from whom she learned a lot.

Traveling during spring break is common among college students, but a downside students expressed is the rush of starting a new quarter once they arrive back home.

Sanchez said that’s why she has a love-hate relationship with these kinds of spring break trips.  

“It doesn’t give me a minute to gather myself after getting back from a trip or prepare for the start of the quarter,” she said.

Hall said that the short-term programs receive skepticism as to how students can have a life-changing experience in just 10 short days, but studying abroad allows students to push boundaries in ways they are not able to on a college campus.

Though some students think the trips are too brief, Palomino still sees these spring break trips as a great way to decompress between quarters.

“The stress of having to organize your own spring break trip is relieved,” Palomino said. “You get to visit a foreign country while also being taught the culture before you get there.”

For this most recent spring break, Madjarov and Sanchez once again packed their bags for another study abroad program that took them to new destinations.

Sanchez went to Spain and Morocco this break and Madjarov to study in Paris as part of an experiential marketing focus.

“I loved my spring break study abroad so much,”  Madjarov said. “Studying abroad has been instrumental in my success and happiness at DePaul and I encourage everyone else to participate too.”

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