Imagine exploring and roaming the streets of Costa Rica, London or Greece for college credit. Sound appealing?
Oklahoma City Community College and Oklahoma Study Abroad work together to give students the chance to take a trip to a different country and receive college credit.
Oklahoma Study Abroad was founded by Christian Alyea in 2009. The program helps students take affordable trips to different countries.
Each of the study abroad trips have an educational focus point and is about two weeks long.
For Emily Akridge, an ecology major, a trip to Costa Rica reinforced the lessons she learned in class.
“The trip to Costa Rica was based on ecology, and I am studying to be a forestry ecologist, I am hoping to be able to work at different national parks throughout the United States after I graduate,” she said. “The best part about the trip by far was getting to watch a female sea turtle lay her eggs on a the beach in Tortugero. After she laid her eggs we watched how she buried the nest back up, disguised it, and scooted her way back into the sea.”
Akridge said she enjoyed walking through the rainforests and learning about the different plants and animals.
“The tour guides are absolutely amazing,” she said. “They are like walking dictionaries when it comes to knowing everything in the forests.”
Students who go on these study abroad trips get to experience a more in depth understanding of the subject they are studying in these countries.
Theater Professor Brent Noel said earning another culture by experiencing that culture is so much more thrilling.
Noel has been on many of the Oklahoma Study Abroad trips. In London, he went to the British museum, saw St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, and went on a tour of the rebuilt Globe Theatre. He also went to Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace.
“We got to physically see the things that people read about almost their whole lives,” he said.
Stephany Coleman, psychology major, went to London with her daughter Krista Coleman, a theatre and arts major.
“We went on a Jack the Ripper Tour and our tour guide would stop and tell us about how things were in the days of Jack the Ripper, and then he would pass through these different walls and archways and put ourselves in that situation being described,” she said.
The Study Abroad program at OCCC is not exclusively for students. Friends and family may go as well.
The Oklahoma Study Abroad allows for students to get connected with the locals and culture.
Biology professor Sherri Arthur, who traveled to Costa Rica many students she has taken on trips, they have never travelled out of their home states.
“Students get to see that the world is not perfect, and in some countries like Costa Rica you can not put your own toilet paper in the toilet and flush because that wastes water,” she said. “Personally I love the people in Costa Rica and Belize. We got to go to the homes of the local people and have dinner, and our guide through the rain forest was a local.”
Akridge agreed.Students are also going into an immersion of culture when going to a different country like Costa Rica, she said.
“It really makes you take a second look at your own life and realize how fortunate you are, and also what you are spending too much time focusing on,” she said.
This year OCCC and Oklahoma Study Abroad is offering trips to France, Italy, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Scotland, Peru and Costa Rica.
“For the upcoming Greece trip there will be some elements of Greek theatre like tragedies and how the Greeks established theatre, and how theatre and Greek religion were similar,” Noel said. “We will go to Athens, the Acropolis, Parthenon, probably go see an Ancient Greek Amphitheatre. We will also eat the food and drink the local drinks. We will see how their culture has evolved and developed over the years.”
During the study abroad trips, students do have some work to go along with the travelling course.
“When it comes to course work there is nothing to worry about,” Akridge said. “We were required to keep a journal of what we saw and what we learned, and most of us just filled them out before going to bed each night.”
Study Abroad at OCCC is all about the experience, said Stephany Coleman.
OCCC Foundation offers a scholarship called Sechrist Family Endowed Scholarship that is worth $500 and is due the 28th of February. For more information about Oklahoma Study abroad at OCCC visit oklahomastudyabroad.com.