The Gustavian Weekly

Preview: J-Term 2020 Study Abroad Trips | The Gustavian Weekly

By Grace Worwa - Staff Writer | November 1, 2019 | Variety

Students spend January 2019 in Indonesia

Students spend January 2019 in Indonesia

This coming January, Gustavus students will disperse to locations all over the world through this year’s ten J-Term IEX programs.
Gusties were eager to get involved in the 2020 J-Term experiences, according to Assistant Director of Study Away Programs Bryan Messerly.

“We had several of the courses filled up to capacity and several of the courses with a waitlist,” Messerly said.

One such program is the Australasia Olympic Quest, led by Health and Exercise Science faculty Bonnie Reimann and Aaron Banks, which takes students to Japan and Australia to study the link between sports and culture in those locations.

“Students will go and visit various sites related to the Olympics and related to sports, and while they are doing that, they’ll be reading materials about where they are going,” Messerly said.

Another program, the Camping Safari, led by Cindy Johnson, allows students to investigate conservation biology through the observation of endangered species in Tanzania.

“ They [will] be going and seeing these large mammals that are related to conservation and that are endangered,” Messerly said.

These are only two of the ten programs taking place in January 2020. Others include the study of queer urban communities and social justice in Berlin and Amsterdam,  Renaissance art and architecture in Italy and the connection between landscape and culture in Iceland.

According to Messerly, all these programs are similar in how they emphasize the experience component as the principal learning-tool in their curriculum.

“The key is they are going to use the ability to physically go to places and see things and meet people to understand and dive more deeply into the material,” Messerly said.

J-Term study away is a good option for students for many reasons, one being that it satisfies one of the two J-Term IEX credits required of all Gustavus students.
“All these programs will fulfill one of the two J-Term requirements that students need, so on a practical level, these programs work with every student’s four-year plan,” Messerly said.

In addition, J-Term is a good opportunity to study away for many students simply because it fits into their busy schedule.

“It’s a time that most students have available in their schedule,” Messerly said.

“Even students who have tightly structured majors or students who have a lot of on-campus activities are typically able to find time to study away over J-Term,” Messerly said.

J-Term IEX programs also serve well as an introductory travel experience for those who are unsure about committing to a three-month semester abroad.

Not only are they shorter in length, but there is more Gustavus support available to students while on a J-Term trip.

Students who study away for a semester will likely “be with students from other schools around the U.S.,” Messerly said, whereas “on a J-term, students will be with faculty members and with Gustavus students, so there’s more Gustavus support.”

Students can learn more about those programs at the J-Term 2021 Study Away Fair this coming March, where the professors who are leading the trips will be available to discuss them further in-depth.

“The J-Term fair is probably the best way for a student to learn about these programs,” Messerly said.

Applications for January 2021 will open in early spring.

“Once they are open in March, students will be able to go on to our online website, which is There they will be able to find a list of our current J-Term programs,” Messerly said.

The application includes six to seven documents that need to be read and signed electronically, an application fee, and a recommendation as well as a couple of brief essay questions.

As for students worried about expenses, they should not discount the J-Term programs as a possibility.

“We have limited J-Term funds through our office and students can apply for those,” Messerly said.

There are also international scholarships offered through outside organizations, including the Gilman Scholarship, which is available to all students who receive a Pell Grant through Gustavus.

There are also other scholarship opportunities available depending on the student’s study away destination.

“Our office can help students with learning about these opportunities and putting together an application,” Messerly said.

Students concerned about cost can also take advantage of the wide price range of the J-Term programs that are offered.

“The estimate overall cost ranged from $4,500 up to about $8,000,” Messerly said.

“That’s a big range, so if a student is interested in studying away, it’s important to look at the different programs and look at which ones will be in their budget,” Messerly said.

At any point in the process of applying and preparing for study away, Messerly encouraged students to visit the staff in the Center for International and Cultural Education with any questions.

“There’s a lot that goes into it, and it can be overwhelming and daunting, but it’s our job to help students get through that and figure it out in a way that’s less stressful,” Messerly said.

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