Your guide for envisioning, planning, and enjoying your study away experience

Are your bags already packed? Or are you uncertain about studying away? In either case, you probably crave an idea of what it’s really like to do this. We’ve pulled together tons of tips, tricks, and student stories to give you an idea of what to expect on a study away experience – along with some advice for handling the unexpected! 

Try on a New City for Credit

At GEO we believe you can have a global experience anywhere in the world, including right here in the U.S. The Duke Global Education Office administers a growing number of U.S.-based study away programs in iconic places such as New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington D.C., Alaska, and Silicon Valley.

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Lab with a View: Honing Hands-On Field Research Skills in New Zealand

By Micaela Unda

New Zealand's remarkable natural beauty and the myriad opportunities for relevant, engaging field research inspired Micaela's decision to study abroad at the University of Otago. Her experience delivered all that she sought and more, including a reframed perspective on familiar ideals such as productivity and accomplishment.

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Satisfying a Biology Major Requirement on Duke in Alaska

By Blaire Rikard

The Duke in Alaska program offered Blaire a practical reason to do the program – it fulfilled the Organismal Diversity Biology Area Requirement for her major in biology (pre-med). However, she was pleasantly surprised to find the program also expanded her interests in environmental sustainability, ecology, and conservation, all of which inspired her plans for the following summer.

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Back to Back: How I Studied Abroad Twice in the Same Summer

By Tiffany de Guzman

In the summer after her sophomore year at Duke, Tiffany de Guzman ('19) did two Duke-In summer programs: Duke in Bologna and Duke in Oxford. We asked her to share what motivated her to tackle four credits in one summer and what advice she has for others considering doing the same.

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Connecting with Community on Duke in Brazil

By Setonji Agosa

The summer between her sophomore and junior year, Setonji Agosa '18 studied abroad in Rio de Janeiro with Duke in Brazil. She explains how improving her conversational Portuguese skills allowed her to immerse herself fully in the dynamic geography, slang, food, and traditions of Brazil. 

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GEOReflects Contest

GEOReflects challenges students to examine their time studying away from Duke by bridging artistic expression and educational experience. Through photography and short written pieces, GEOReflects encourages students to use their study abroad/study away experience to develop a deeper understanding of other cultures and of themselves. 

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Study Away Program Recommendations by Major

Looking for a study away experience with an emphasis on courses in your major? Use these guides to browse study away/abroad opportunities by major. Download the sheet for your major for a quick guide to summer and semester programs – both Duke-In and Duke-Approved – that GEO recommends for you.  

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An Almost Inexplicable Shared Human Experience

By Niisoja Torto

In her TEDTalk, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie speaks to the danger of a single story, asserting, “the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete.” Reflecting now on my study abroad experience in South Africa, I cannot help but attest to the validity of Adichie’s remark.

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Rounding Out The Econ Degree

By Anna Kropf

Before I began my Italian studies at Duke, I might have (admittedly) been on the side of the liberal arts education debate that was confused why so many general education requirements were necessary for graduation. If I knew what I wanted to do, why would I need to take so many classes in other disciplines? But Duke in Bologna pushed me into the realm of “hopeless romantic” for the liberal arts education.

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Mistakes Welcome: Let Go, Learn More

By Lucy St. Charles

Before going to Costa Rica, I was a perfectionist. I never wanted to make a single mistake while I spoke. During the program, it didn’t feel like I was making much progress. For weeks, I’d stumble over what I was trying to say. I didn’t notice a change until my last night...the fear that had been constantly holding me back from making mistakes was gone.

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The Professor Made All the Difference

By Andrew Padilla

I decided to participate in Duke in Costa Rica due to raving reviews from previous students on the program. They talked about how incredibly immersive the program was and how much fun they had. I was looking for a unique way to spend my summer and this program was the perfect opportunity.

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International SOS (ISOS): Emergency & Travel Assistance Service

To help safeguard university travelers, Duke has contracted with a travel assistance company called International SOS (ISOS), which provides emergency assistance and other services for all students studying abroad on Duke programs. Learn what services are offered and how to make the most of this benefit provided by Duke University.

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Students with Disabilities

The Duke University Global Education Office (GEO) is committed to inclusion on its study away programs. We work closely with Duke’s Student Disability Access Office (SDAO) to help students – both Duke students and non-Duke students – with disabilities request and receive approved accommodations on study away programs to the extent that they can be arranged, given local/foreign laws, infrastructure, and other considerations.

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Smart Things You Can Do To Avoid Unsafe Situations

Just like in the United States, it is important that you are vigilant and take commonsense precautions to safeguard yourself while on your study away program. Indeed, it may be even more important to be vigilant while studying abroad, as you may not know all of the nuances of your host country’s local laws and cultural norms. There are proactive steps you can take to help make sure you have a safe trip abroad.

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LGBTQ+ Resources

How sexual identities are defined and understood varies between cultures, including the interpretation of what is considered appropriate behavior. This applies to acquaintances as well as platonic and intimate relationships. If you are an LGBTQ student, it is important to understand that openly living your sexual orientation and/or gender identity abroad might be different from what you are accustomed to at home.

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World Situation FAQ

The safety and security of Duke students studying away is the first priority for Duke University. Using trusted sources of information and analysis, we are constantly monitoring and assessing the security conditions in and around our study away sites. 

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Reflection on a Semester at Duke as a Visiting International Student

By Maja Islam

I can honestly say that the year that I spent at Duke University was not even close to what I imagined it would be – it was actually beyond anything I expected. What I am sure I will always remember are the wonderful people that I had gotten to meet, and the friendships that I have made with people from all over the world. 

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Discovering Cultural Differences in Food Science and Food Policy at CES Maastricht

By Quinn Steven

"I think that this proximity to their food is what inspires Europeans to be more vocal about their food systems and preferences.”

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My Semester in Dublin, Ireland, as a Mechanical Engineering Student

By David Talpalar

I knew when I decided to come to Dublin that I would be in a bustling city with great character. But what I could never have imagined was the relationships that I would make with the locals, the welcoming environment that I would be a part of, and the life in Ireland beyond simply the Dublin city centre. 

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Who says you can’t eat your way through Italy and get course credit for it?

Tara Nagar and Isabella Turchetta are computer science majors at Duke who both chose to spend this semester studying abroad at the Umbra Institute, an American study abroad provider in Perugia, Italy. Read how their classes here have directly influenced life abroad and how this experience has developed their multicultural perspectives. 

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My Study Abroad Path: Duke in China

By Tarela Osuobeni

I wanted to expedite my Mandarin language study in order to achieve proficiency. My global advisor explained that Duke in China was the best way to do so. Within my political science major, I became interested in learning about China’s global standing in the world but felt I wanted to see the nation for myself. 

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Livin' La Pura Vida

By Harry Liu

The Pura Vida lifestyle is best summed up as the combination of the many daily experiences that Tico has. The experiences I’ve had taught me that in order to fully immerse yourself in and understand a culture, you have to keep an open mind, be flexible, and completely embrace it. In other words, you have to challenge yourself to try new things.

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Host Mom, New Friend

By Madison Mastrangelo 

Not only did my host mom help me with French, she became a good friend, and I always looked forward to our dinners and daily conversations. Before arriving in Paris, I did not anticipate that living with a homestay would play such an integral role in my study abroad experience. I still keep in touch with my host mom, and I am excited to visit her when I return to Paris in the future.

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Words That Don’t Translate: Flâner (French)

By Brittany Wong

The verb “flâner” is absolutely essential in Parisian culture, but lacks a real equivalent in English: my best approximation would be “to stroll contemplatively.” Some of my best memories are of calm moments with “livres de poche” in the elegant Jardin du Palais Royal or observing precocious French children in Parc Sainte-Perrine near my homestay. 

 

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A Typical Day Attending the Oldest University in Europe

By Sarah Perrin

Our classes were held in an architecturally and historically rich building that was once part of a monastery, then a penitentiary, until it was finally adopted into the fold of the oldest university in Europe, the University of Bologna.
 

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Las Hogueras: Festival of San Juan

By Sam Sadler

How incredible is this statue made entirely of paper and wood? During our last week in Alicante, these gigantic hogueras (Spanish for “bonfires”) appeared in the streets almost overnight, blocking major roadways and decorating the city.

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How I Got to Know the People on the Duke in Greece Program: Kayla Speidel

This picture was taken on the port of Folegandros, from the bathroom window of my boat cabin. Twenty-six people and I lived on this boat for a week, traveling nearly every day to a new island. 

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Midnight Cruise: A New Perspective on the Familiar—Noah Burrell

Studying abroad in St. Petersburg was an unforgettable experience. The classes themselves were interesting and informative, but the city itself became a teacher of incomparable value. 

Each day of exploration led to new discoveries and adventures. St. Petersburg, a city that is in every way a union of European and Russian culture, invites you to look at both worlds from which it draws influence with a different perspective. 

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A Summer of Becoming Madrileñas

By Mathilde Ooi

In the short six weeks with Duke in Spain, I know that I have made some of the best memories I will have throughout Duke. From cities to grand cathedrals, Mallorcan beaches, the Picos de Europa mountain range, and not to mention the best gazpacho I will ever taste prepared by my host family, I experienced Spain like I have never experienced any country.

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A Spanish Excursion: Brandon Dalla Rosa

The time I spent studying abroad in Spain includes some of the best memories that I have made to this day. 

One notable example of these is when we were visiting Asturias and a couple of us saw a mountain in the distance which looked fun to climb. We then proceeded to run to the mountain and climb through what seemed like miles of prickly plants in order to reach one of the most incredible views I have ever seen. Of course, we also almost missed lunch, but small details. 

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Surprise, You’re Being Live Streamed!

By Samuel Slack

Let me tell you about that time I spoke useful Chinese for two continuous hours to an audience of 30 … no, wait, I mean 5,000. Four weeks into my summer classes on Duke in China, a Beijing-based study abroad company asked me to speak at their information session for Chinese students intending on applying to American universities. 

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Duke in Berlin Hosts Pop-Up Photography Exhibition

Duke in Berlin students in Chris Sims’ Documentary Photography course hosted a pop-up art exhibition of their work. The exhibition will travel back to Duke with the students and will be on view in October at the Center for Documentary Studies.

Duke in Berlin, Summer 2016

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Smashing Watermelons, Smashing Politics

By Joshua Curtis

When I was still in the States, the two most common responses I got after telling people about my upcoming trip to Morocco were 1) that I would love the food or 2) that I would need to be careful not to talk about anything political lest someone find out that I am American or Jewish or both and somehow try to kill me. I excitedly received the first response, while rolling my eyes at the second. I was still surprised to find out just how vastly unbalanced the aforementioned view of Morocco is.

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Supporting Your Student’s Study Away Experience

What positive steps can parents and families take to help their students stay safe and get the most from study abroad? GEO offers these tips for supporting your study away student.

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Handling Stress and Uncertainty—Both Your Student’s and Your Own!

Congratulations! Your student has chosen to participate in a study away program, a potentially pivotal experience in their intellectual and personal development. The journey will be filled with questions … and we think that’s OK.

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Finance FAQ for Parents & Families

Eliminate unwanted surprises when you understand how the Bursar’s office will handle billing for your student’s term(s) on study away.

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Study Away Myth Busters

Find out the top six things that people get wrong when sharing advice about study abroad/away, from finances to course credits to language requirements.
 

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How To Choose a Study Away Program

When it comes to choosing a study away program, the array of options can be overwhelming. It might seem easier to follow friends’ recommendations, but study away is really about your own path. What are you looking for? What are your academic and personal goals? Here’s a list to get you started with evaluating your needs.

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Sexual Misconduct on Study Away

Duke University is committed to encouraging and sustaining a living and learning community that is free from harassment, violence, and discrimination. Familiarize yourself with Duke’s sexual misconduct policies and the options for reporting, both confidential and non-confidential.

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Things You Can Do to Minimize the Risks of Sexual Misconduct 

Sexual assault and rape are prevalent globally, and no one is immune. While female-identifying students are statistically more susceptible, students of any gender identity should exercise caution and awareness. Sexual assault can happen at any time or place. It is important to remember that sexual violence is never your fault.

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Laptop and Smartphone Security

It is easy to carry a laptop or smartphone around; but, unfortunately, it is just as easy for thieves to steal one. In the seconds it takes you to turn around to greet a friend in a coffee shop, a thief can pick up and make off with your valuables. Bottom line: You need to guard your laptop and phone as closely as you guard your wallet.

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Health & Wellness Topics You Probably Forgot About

This checklist will help you think about your health-related needs and take care of what needs attention before you depart. Things like what to pack, what to do if your routine medical visits falls during your time away, glasses and contacts, prescription medications, and immunizations, to name a few.

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Driving While Abroad

While we strongly recommend that you not drive while abroad, should you choose to do so, you may need a special driving permit, a road permit, or both to drive in certain countries. An international driver’s permit, available from your local automobile association, should be recognized by many countries and may, with your driver’s license, suffice for driving.

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Duke Students Challenge International Educators to Consider Questions About Diversity Abroad

We recently asked student groups on Duke’s campus with a stake in issues of diversity abroad to anonymously submit questions and discussion prompts for the international education community. The questions will be shared with attendees at the annual Diversity Abroad Conference in March.

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Study Abroad in Paris Inspired My Senior Thesis and Plans for a Ph.D.

By Daniel Lam

I studied abroad during a year marked with several major moments in French history, including two violent attacks in the capital and one in Bataclan. 

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A Perfect Fit: Duke in Montréal

By Erin Butrico

Duke in Montréal was the perfect fit for my summer. For starters, I decided a bit late in the game that I wanted to major in French. I thought that I would have to overload to get all of my French courses in, but this program helped to fix that problem. Secondly, I loved the idea of an immersive course. I knew that this course was not just a sit-in-the-classroom-and-take-notes kind of thing, but an interactive, hands-on way of learning. 

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Au Revoir, Montréal

By Erin Butrico

I was always the nervous type. I relied on my twin for everything. I used to stand behind her when I was scared. I liked to eat the same food and stick to the same routine. Even though I’m 20 years old now, and I’ve lived without my family for two years at Duke, I was still very nervous when my mom left me for this program. It was the first time that I was living in a city. I had never met these girls before. My French was mediocre. I felt very alone. 

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Connecting Policy, History, and Culture on Duke in Montréal

By Alicia Pak

Through Duke in Montreal, I spent part of July in Quebec City studying economic and cultural development of the region and meeting with such figures as the Minister of International Relations and the U.S. Consul General.

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Gaining Fluency in a Second Foreign Language

By Anna Mukamal

Aix-en-Provence is the ideal locale for six weeks of immersing yourself in French culture and living with a host family. French is my second foreign language (I’m an English and Spanish double major) and this intensive course has been exactly what I need—the highlight of my experience has been gaining confidence in understanding, speaking, reading, and writing French!

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Breakfast on the Farm

By Rachel Freedman 

I spent my Christmas break working on a farm to pay for my stay in the south of France. The first thing we did on the farm each morning was to throw stale baguettes into the pastures. Alpacas, pigs, goats, chickens, ducks—they all went crazy for those baguettes.

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Duke in Silicon Valley 2016: Week 2 Recap

Week 2 Woohooo! We had the privilege of starting class with Dr. J (Dr. Jeremy Petranka) this week. I say privilege because several of us have already started calling Dr. J the best professor we have ever had.

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Spring in Berlin: On classes, host family, and friends

By Zoey Zou

I am a Chinese national, and I went to high school in Singapore. I knew coming into Duke that I wanted to study abroad somewhere and I wanted to learn a new language. Duke in Berlin allowed beginners and, compared to other programs, that was unique.
 

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Advice from Duke Students

Want to talk to someone at Duke who has already studied away? We have over 100 GEO student ambassadors who have done various study away programs, both Duke-In and Duke-approved. These student volunteers are eager to answer your questions and be a resource for peer advice.