The Bravest Measure

Elisabeth Hawthorne
November 18, 2014

Seeing as this week is International Education Week and we bloggers are being provided with the opportunity of writing within a prescribed framework of topics, I am making the Herculean effort to push through my collection of half-baked ideas and incomplete drafts to publish once a day, Monday through Thursday, corresponding with my school week.  Wish me luck.

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Travel is a joy, but requires resources: time, money, energy, and courage.  Many people travel while studying abroad because it is more convenient and less expensive than doing so while in the States.  Of course, this ease of travel contributes to the assumption that study abroad is a less academically serious use of an undergraduate semester or year.  Some institutions advise against more than a semester’s worth of time spent abroad specifically because they believe their desired caliber of scholarship can only be reached under the direct supervision of their institution.  Well, I say there are a lot of virtues that make a student good, and practically all of them can be found outside the classroom as well as in it.  There are a lot of arguments to be made for the benefits of studying abroad, traveling, and exploration beyond the home-campus.  Here is my view, as simply as I can put it, on the role of travel in the study abroad experience:

I’ve been thinking about travel as a natural extension of study abroad.  Part of being a virtuous epistemic agent, a good knower, a good student, is being inquisitive.  And I ask, what is travel other than the most active form of inquiry possible?  What is cultural immersion if not the bravest measure a student can take when they are not just interested in learning within the established system of academia, but through the millions of tiny, uncodified, unique interactions and observations of what is foreign to us.  And then to experience the wonder when suddenly these things are no longer foreign, as our minds expand to accommodate a greater understanding of the world.

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Grazie, Roma! Bella cosa tosto è rapita.

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Elisabeth Hawthorne

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">I&rsquo;m your standard artistic mutt, head on the ground, feet in the clouds, brought to you by a serious case of wanderlust. Small-town Minnesota girl, ex-expat of Singapore, international traveler, art history major, varsity fencer, opera singer, aesthetics junkie, curious soul, gelato votary, far from home at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, making distance and immersion my teachers during a year abroad in Rome, Italy. You can follow along as I happily consume art and carbs in la bella città, but be warned I might not stay in one place for long!</span></p>

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