What is educational travel?
It is travel abroad with purpose and preparation. Instead of landing somewhere in a clueless state for a vacation break—you will study up in advance and hit the ground running with knowledge of the history, culture, language, and layout of the land. Spending some time learning the back story of the places you will visit enhances that visit immensely. To know that construction on the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris began way back in 1163 and took nearly 200 years to complete might just enhance your appreciation of the place. To appreciate the Pantheon in Rome for its full two-thousand year history standing exactly where it is today—that is educational travel. To spend time working side by side with a nonprofit in the Dominican Republic and realizing that health care has many dimensions—that is educational travel.
But it is also knowing that one says “buongiorno” instead of “good morning” as an a.m. greeting in Italy and “buenos días” in Spanish. You are an English speaking person—fine, but one learns the courtesy words of other languages when visiting foreign countries. It might seem a small thing to ask for help in French or Spanish with a “s’il vous plaît” or “hola” start and a “merci” or “gracias” to end. Trust us—it makes a big difference. Learning the basic greetings and courtesy words in the languages of the countries one intends to visit is part of educational travel.
This is what travel guru Rick Steves likes to call “traveling as a temporary local.” Instead of a step on, step off dedicated tour bus that segregates students from the local people—we will be stepping on and off buses and subways—and standing in line at a taxi station waiting for a cab. You could be riding a bus and experiencing health care in a rural village. Educational travel is all about preparing students for a much more meaningful experience abroad—something that we here at Lake Superior College take very seriously.
Getting out into your world with LSC—what difference does it make?
Educational travel through Lake Superior College can offer avenues for personal growth and career opportunity—it can be part of an education for life. With regards to personal growth, experiences abroad can help us to grow and mature as individuals by forcing us to step out of our comfort zone. Takings steps out into the larger world can lead to steps out of one’s limited self, so to speak. Discovering the unknown world out there can be a ticket to finding paths within oneself that you didn’t even know existed—a realization that you can be a bigger you.
And then there are the potential career opportunities down the road. We live in an increasingly interconnected world and knowing how to communicate and interact effectively with people from other parts of the world might well make the difference in your future career. When considering for a moment who we work with here at the college, faculty colleagues from Poland, Finland, and Bulgaria come to mind, as do maintenance staff folks from Turkey and Italy. Duluth is an international city and time abroad can help one better appreciate the diversity of other cultures. Travel can also open up avenues for future jobs and careers that you had never before realized were possible. There are Americans living and working in countries all over the world and you never know—that might be you one day. Getting out into your world can be life changing, but even if it’s not—it is just plain fun and a cool thing to do. Get out into your world!
Educational travel and study abroad—what’s the difference?
Both experiences are worthy of your consideration and involvement, but they are different animals. First there is the difference in time commitment—educational travel opportunities at LSC typically last from 7 to 21 days. Study abroad programs are longer—running from one-month summer programs through semester-long exchanges and even stays abroad lasting a full-academic year. The second factor is cost—our shorter programs typically cost substantially less than their longer, study abroad counterparts. For example, the May 2017 program to Italy and France cost approximately $3650 per student, while a semester in Montpelier, France through the U of MN, Twin Cities cost about $23,500 for Spring Semester 2017. Another difference is found in the extent of the academic work involved—educational travel at LSC requires that students enroll in a 1-3 credit global studies course attached to the trip, while study abroad programs normally include 12-15 credits of coursework.
Can student loans be applied toward educational travel programs at LSC?
Yes they can—though the Lake Superior College staff who manage, promote, and administer these opportunities recommend that students think very carefully about the long-term implications of this added debt. Your obligation to repay this loan money will continue long after the class and travel associated with it are done. Consider taking on an extra job, moving home for a semester, or finding other ways to finance your participation before deciding to go the student loans route. It is ultimately up to each student to decide—this might be a life-changing, career-enhancing experience that will prove to be well worth the investment. Or it might just be a really interesting, eye-opening trip that does not pay many dividends down the road of life. You won’t know until you get there but it is right to think about it before you go.