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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

OPINION: Men’s Basketball just won’t back down
Abigail Taylor, Contributing writer • February 27, 2024

Studying abroad with CIEE, what it looks like

Photo+by+Madeline+Brewer+-%0AThe+Roman+Forum%2C+as+viewed+from+a+lookout+point+in+the+Capitoline+Museums.+Without+my+CIEE+program%2C+I+never+could%E2%80%99ve+photographed+such+a+breathtaking+view.
Photo by Madeline Brewer – The Roman Forum, as viewed from a lookout point in the Capitoline Museums. Without my CIEE program, I never could’ve photographed such a breathtaking view.

Anyone who was following my Instagram during the month of January likely saw my influx of posts about studying abroad in Rome, with a brief weekend trip to Paris. Though it was a life-changing experience and I had tons of fun, in the months leading up to it, I had so much anxiety about it that I sometimes wondered if I wanted to go through with the program.

What kept me with it was the amazing information and advice I received from Wofford’s Office of International Programs prior to leaving, and the CIEE staff once I landed in Rome. Here, I’d like to share some of the things I learned so those of you signing up soon to go abroad next year don’t have to rain a million questions down on Study Abroad Advisor Bence Bays (like I did).

Full disclosure: I did a program over Interim, so people who want to do a full semester abroad will likely need to take a few extra steps. However, I will cover the basics.

Wofford offers a couple types of international study over Interim, and the most straightforward of them is faculty-led programs. These are programs where you fly alongside your class and professor.

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However, if you’ve ever browsed the Interim course catalog all the way to the end, you’ve likely seen a slew of classes at the end that all begin with the letters “CIEE.” If you’ve never heard of the Council on International Educational Exchange before, you’ve likely been very confused by these course listings.

In the spring of 2022, I saw one of these courses labeled as “Rome: Birthplace of the Modern Museum,” and as an art history major, it sounded so cool to me that I decided I’d wade through the process of learning about CIEE just so I could take it.

Step one was finding the first bit of information on it, like a short preview. Fortunately, around the time of study abroad application season, a fair was held on the seal of Old Main with numerous booths full of information. I got my hands on a copy of the program sheet, complete with basic info and anticipated costs.

Once I’d made up my mind, I located the application on Wofford’s website and answered all their questions, wrote a short essay and got a recommendation from an art history professor. Shortly after the deadline, I was notified of my acceptance and told to fill out the CIEE application next.

After getting accepted, my Wofford OIP application also updated, asking for further information, such as a scan of my passport and COVID-19 vaccination card.

That’s when I remembered, “oh, a passport, I need one of those.”

I’d heard that the wait for receiving my passport was 8-11 weeks, so I went ahead and snagged an appointment with my local USPS center that June, where they needed two pieces of photo ID. These IDs could be as simple as a school ID (or, thanks to living in Asheville, a Biltmore Estate pass).

The USPS also needed my original birth certificate or social security card, which they’d send off and mail back to me after mailing my passport book. I needed the book for overseas travel, as the card only allows U.S. citizens to cross land borders into Canada or Mexico.

The CIEE application asked for similar info as the OIP one, but also needed a medical evaluation form filled out by my doctor. Because I’d recently had a check-up, my information was up-to-date, and I was able to exchange the form over email.

The final form on the CIEE application was a housing survey, similar to the one that Wofford FYI profiles include. This was also when I received my syllabus for the course I’d be taking.

During this time, I also made sure to notify my bank and credit card company that I’d be traveling, so my transactions wouldn’t get flagged. I’d eventually learn that most small places in Rome are cash-only, and I’d be visiting the ATM quite a bit.

Throughout the process, I also received many emails both from CIEE representatives and OIP staff with reminders and updates to keep me on top of things.

The one thing neither organization could do for me was help me with the flight itself. For a CIEE program, the plane ticket was out-of-pocket and I had to navigate to and through the airport myself.

I found that the easiest way to go about this was finding the cheapest ticket that gave me what I wanted on a third-party site like Priceline or Expedia, and printing the ticket or adding it to my Apple Wallet in advance to skip the check-in line at the airport. Fortunately, I was able to find a direct overnight flight from Atlanta to Rome.

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