Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Study Abroad Experiences Defy ‘Hierarchies’

To the Editor:

This is in response to Emily Harter’s column entitled “Hierarchies of Study Abroad,” (THE HOYA, Nov. 23, 2004, A3), a title which in and of itself irritates me.

The term hierarchy is enough to offend anyone who has gone abroad and had a valuable experience that doesn’t fit her contradictory and pretentious criteria.

What really astounds me is that Harter studied in a Western European country for a year and hence maintains little claim to most of the assertions and assumptions that she alludes to in her piece.

Study abroad should be evaluated and assessed from an individual perspective. Sometimes, just the experience of being away from home and making new friends is enough to change a person’s world view.

Why should anyone feel compromised because some preacher tells them that their semester of fun in Scotland or Australia was “untouchable” in the grand hierarchy or caste system of study abroad?

The little section entitled “First World vs. Third World” made me laugh in a dark, ironic way that was completely unrelated to her attempts at humor. Once again, I feel that if you’re the kind of person who goes to Senegal and realizes that roughing it with those poor, sad locals is not for you and you’d rather shop at Zara, then you should probably not write something like this.

The slippery slope starts when people start saying “your experience in Spain was worthless, you said it yourself.” Learning a language is great, and having the courage to leave home for a year is great too. But learning about yourself and forming strong bonds with people are not exactly peanuts.

I went to Thailand with a random program I found on the internet. I picked up hardly any language, got drunk and went clubbing a lot.

Regardless, I also managed to find myself in many precarious “no toilet paper” situations and I even hung out with some “goats and cows” every now and then. So, tell me, where do I fall on Harter’s hierarchy?

Sonia Mukhi (SFS ’05) Dec. 1, 2004

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