Going abroad should be less restrictive

Many students who applied for study abroad programs are currently finding out where they will be going next semester. Some students, however, are limited in destinations because of overly stringent class requirements.

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The idea of studying abroad is terribly enticing to me. Studying at USC and taking advantage of a cultural center such as Los Angeles is obviously fantastic.

But being able to have all that and the ability to venture out and study in another country, absorbing a new culture and adding a whole new dimension to your education, is a concept oozing appeal.

There is one major flaw. The university offers countless study abroad options but these are not all created equal.

Certain majors, such as engineering, have rigid requirements. Among the numerous study abroad options, engineering majors are only able to study in a few of them.

All of these options exist in places where the primary language is English. Frankly, these options are a bit underwhelming. That is not to say that these places are not beautiful, or exotic, or lack a new and exciting place of study, but as all destinations are former members of the British Empire, they do share several similarities.

Though Australia is a wonderful destination, it shares similarities to the one we live in. Students could instead be immersed in an entirely foreign culture by going somewhere like Egypt, India or Kenya.

The world is a diverse place, and studying abroad is a unique opportunity to explore just how different things are around the world.

With that in mind, the idea of going to a place where the most obvious difference from Los Angeles is what side of the road people drive on seems inadequate.

If an engineering major chooses to study abroad in a place not included on the list of suggested engineering destinations, there is a good chance they will not graduate in four years. At a school encouraging us to be modern renaissance men and women and global scholars, we are limited by a list of class requirements that the university believes we cannot satisfy anywhere else.

USC is so focused on itself that it ultimately discourages us to branch out.

The most frustrating aspect of it all is that a school like the American University in Cairo offers engineering courses, so conceivably students would not have to abandon their major studies entirely and could still explore the world.

Because of the narrow selection of courses approved for credit, however, the options for an engineering student, like myself or other students with intensely focused workloads, are decimated.

The university should allow students to study abroad at a destination of their choice. Though not all professors or courses are created equal, there are plenty of universities across the globe where students can fulfill upper-division courses.

Instead, we are left weighing difficult decisions, and unsure of the outcome.

Study abroad is an idea that excites many; however, because of the scarcity of options some majors offer to many students, it will only remain an idea.


Daniel Grzywacz is a sophomore majoring in cinematic arts-critical studies. His column “Thoughts From the Quad” runs Wednesdays. 

4 replies
  1. joe
    joe says:

    How about the fact that the USC College only offers ONE study abroad program in Spanish speaking South America (Santiago). One program on an entire continent. Kind of ridiculous, no?

  2. marshall
    marshall says:

    Two of your three examples of “better” countries to go, India and Kenya, were once part of the British Empire and are still members of the Commonwealth, the exact places you said you wanted to avoid in the previous sentence, so I guess you have to rule out those too…
    So where *do* you want to go?

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous says:

      Egypt under British rule from 1882 to 1952. All three example countries were part of the Empire for a good number of overlapping years.

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