Sonja O'Brien ’21 is an anthropology major who studied abroad in Jaipur, India, last semester. Through the SIT India: Sustainable Development and Social Change program, Sonja took classes on sustainability and fulfilled her passion for activism through an internship.
On choosing a study abroad program, Sonja says:
“I chose India because it is one of the most populated nations on our planet, with one of the most quickly growing economies, and somehow India was never mentioned in any of my general education before college. In addition, India is a beautiful country with a rich history and dynamic cultures. I hoped studying there would help fill in the gaps. It did.”
In addition to her studies, through the program's excursions Sonja visited eight of India’s states and territories, where she experienced different cultures, food, landscapes, and art. Sonja’s adventures included camping in the desert, hiking in the foothills of the Himalayas, exploring historic landmarks, and enjoying the beauty of cities, palaces, and forts.
When not out and about, Sonja spent time with her host family, whom she credits for helping her transition to life abroad.
“One of the best parts of studying abroad was all of the people I met! I had the most wonderful host family who were amazingly kind and were such an essential part of my experience. They made me feel at home, more than 7,400 miles away from where I grew up. We grew very close and I still talk to them almost every day,” says Sonja.
Another highlight of the program was its month-long internship component. Sonja interned with PondyCAN, an environmental Citizens Action Network in Puducherry. Through the internship, Sonja wrote an action plan to help restore rain drainage channels and reduce environmental degradation in order to improve the quality of local citizens' lives and offer opportunities for economic prosperity.
Reflecting on her study abroad experiences, Sonja says:
“For anyone considering study abroad I say go for it! It is such a wonderful opportunity to explore somewhere new, learn in a different environment, and have a semester full of adventure. You won't regret it!”
Each year, about one third of the junior class studies abroad, usually for one semester, at one of more than fifty approved programs. Students may begin to think about study abroad in their first year and are welcome to visit the Study Abroad Resource Library in the Lower Level of Guild Hall and to begin to explore approved programs.