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The GW Hatchet


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The GW Hatchet

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Why I won’t change my study abroad plans for the 2016 election

Randa Zammam is a sophomore majoring in international affairs.

Sophomores are in crisis. For so many students at GW, all we’ve ever wanted to do is study international affairs or political science in D.C. and then study abroad somewhere else.

But students want to have their cake and eat it, too. We want to be in the District during the ups and downs of the presidential election – but for the Class of 2018, that’s our upcoming junior year.

The election, the presidential inauguration and GW’s inaugural ball all take place during our third year, the time usually designated for study abroad. But for juniors, next year has become another “only at GW moment” that nobody wants to miss. For some, the only solution is to switch gears and go abroad second semester sophomore year, instead.

Students in this predicament need to look at the bigger picture: The inauguration is one day in your spring semester. Are you willing to rearrange all of your college plans for it?

I cringe when I hear my fellow sophomores dropping everything to go abroad next semester because of their fear of missing out on the 2016 election. It’s just too soon. I feel like I’ve barely dipped my toes into my major requirements, and yet some people are already making plans to go abroad.

I know I’m not the only one who came to GW in order to eventually leave and study somewhere else. It’s one of my greatest priorities as a GW student to continue my education with the backdrop of a different culture, but I haven’t yet decided where I want to go because I know I still have time.

More than 80 percent of Elliott School students study abroad, along with around half of the entire GW undergraduate student body. I know how important it is to have an international college experience, but it’s also important to remember to stay on track with your degree by making sure you choose the most opportune time. Study abroad has its benefits, but it can have its disadvantages, too, if you don’t time it right.

There’s really no harm in going abroad fall of your junior year. It’s not like the election will be taking place exclusively in D.C., and most of us are voting by absentee ballot, anyway. Going abroad in the fall is worth it, especially when great programs like Focus on Fall Abroad Community exist.

FOFAC can help you out financially as well as academically, with priority registration offered to the program’s accepted students. Another perk of studying abroad in the fall is that you won’t miss out on all the summer internships that start in late May or early June while you’re likely still abroad.

If you’re careful, you can have your cake and eat it, too. Just find a study abroad program that starts in February of your junior year. Then attend inauguration, experience a new country and come back to finish off your senior year with a bang.

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