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Opinion

ITC’s appeal resides in multicultural opportunity

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September 18, 2008

The world around you is strained and tired. The whole world seems to be spinning even though you’re not the least bit dizzy. You lay your head on the window next to you to sleep, but another lurch of wheels or a sharp curve causes your head to hit the window, sending more unwelcome sensations through your nervous system. Your nerves are reckless; you’re scared, anxious, overjoyed, and have a certain sick churning feeling in your stomach.

That bumpy flight over the Atlantic is behind you as you sit on a bus traveling, for us, on the wrong side of the road on your way to London, England. The start of your semester abroad with the International Traveling Classroom has just begun and every sensation in your body is tingling.

The International Traveling Classroom sets itself apart from all of the other study abroad programs that the UW-River Falls has available. It would be bias to say that the ITC program is the best study abroad program that the school has to offer as all of them have their own uniqueness and experiences.

As part of the ITC program, the student will be, as the name suggests, traveling from city to city while taking UWRF credited classes. Many of the popular cities to visit in this program are London, Paris and Berlin, but every year has a different schedule. In between cities, students also have the opportunity, or rather necessity, of traveling on their own whether to the next scheduled city or to another desired location.

All of the information on the ITC can be found online or at the source with one of the programs coordinators, Professor Charles Rader of the geography department. The information will speak of “an experience of a life time” and how the ITC program can offer students reality to dreams they never thought could come true.

The truth is the ITC is not an experience of a lifetime, because you may never get the chance to travel as much as you will travel or experience as much as you will experience. No, the ITC program is one of a kind because of the scholarly atmosphere that surrounds the students during their roughly four months abroad. The atmosphere where, for the first time, all students are given the responsibility and trust that they will learn more in a semester than they have in the past years of their lives.

Life is not the same while traveling with thirty other students and one professor. The small connections that link everyone together become something of a small community. There are few secrets and rarely any privacy. The classes are held in whatever rooms become available to hold such an amount of people and, in some instances, you are lucky to get s chair. Countries can separate best friends and the next time they see each other in a few days they may be completely different people.

There are bound to be cities that are not enjoyable. Experiences and people are not always going to be understanding and/or pleasant. Depending on what side of the continent a student is on, the cleanliness and overall reliability of transportation changes drastically. These are the experiences students will have during their time with the ITC program. Culture is not an issue because no student will spend long enough time being engulfed in a single culture to truly understand it. The ITC program, however, allows students to experience multiple cultures every week.

Every week students get the opportunity to change into a different understanding of who they really are. The ITC program infects students with problems they never knew they had, but also gives them confidence and character that may never be available at another time. The ITC will change your life whether it is every week or every month, it is different for everyone. The places, the experiences and even the problematic issues change for everyone in the ITC. The only thing the ITC program can guarantee is that the more you change, the more the world changes around you.

Aaron Billingsley is a student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.