Studying abroad is the gateway to the world for us uninformed and naïve college students. It is our one-month free trial of the world, you could say, before we fully enter into it and have to juggle all the responsibilities that are baked into adulthood. I mean, how do we even begin to understand how to file taxes? Or raise a child? But hey, at least we know that the quadratic formula is “x is equal to negative b plus or minus the square root of b squared minus a times c times four all divided by two times a,” where a, b and c are inserted values. Nailed it! That’ll totally come in handy one day. But before we need to assume those responsibilities and become functioning members of society, we have study abroad programs to give us a taste of adulthood. Now, at most schools, the process to study abroad is fairly simple: easy tasks to complete and short forms to fill out before leaving. But Brandeis… ah, Brandeis. They use their magic to add as many painful hurdles as possible to the process, making you think Brandeis might not want you to leave. They wouldn’t want us to see what better-run universities are in the world, now would they? So to make sure everyone can see these other universities, I believe it beneficial to review the process to go abroad a little.
The abroad process begins from humble origins: merely with the task of signing a form declaring intent to go abroad. In essence, it’s your application to be considered to apply to be allowed to apply to the program directly. Do not worry, this will all be explained starting with this form, which is the kind of form that screams, “You only need to sign me so that we know you have a pulse!” Brandeis lures you in by presenting a mere façade of an easy-to-manage and simple-to-understand process, but just when we think Brandeis made something without nuance and confusion, the inner workings slowly reveal themselves and all the unorganized guts fall out.
The next step is to then pick out a program you want to go on so badly you would fight another Brandeis student to the death to go on it. It is a heck of jump-in seriousness from the “checking for a pulse” step to now being at the “you need to have all your stuff figured out” step. These two steps occur within two weeks of each other, so the turn around to prepare for that match is quite minimal, but if you enjoy anxiously falling asleep at two in the morning after researching every program in the world, then this process is just for you!
So, after you have drawn first blood and come out victorious in your fight, the third phase of this journey begins. You now have a meeting the day after you find your ideal program where you are introduced to the kindest souls who Brandeis has hired to torture for eternity. The sweetest people assist you in making sure the program is perfect for you (insider tip: just say yes so you do not need to enter the Thunderdome and kill someone again), and once they have seen that it is, they send you on your merry way with smiles on their faces that say, “Brandeis won’t let us out of this office, please help!”
Stage four of wandering around a desert with no sense of direction—I mean applying to go abroad at Brandeis—is the most intuitive and interactive one yet! You are then told to fill out 14 different forms, which is your application to be allowed to apply directly to the program. The secret fun of this step is that the first 13 steps are easy, but the last one is where things get interesting. You need to navigate the website of a university of a foreign country and pick all the classes you are going to take when you are there. Make yourself at home on this webpage, because with the language barrier and crazy international website, you’ll be stuck on that screen for days! Keep in mind this is for a program you have not even been accepted into yet; it’s really just a step because secretly the upper admin uses our anxiety to keep their oldest donors alive like we are humans in the Matrix. But the real joy of this step comes when you need approval from your major’s liaisons who will tell you if the courses you chose to take abroad count towards your major. The liaisons are all uneducated when it comes to technology, so good luck getting their signatures back in time to apply with their approval!
But hey! Wonderful! Mazel tov! You got them to respond on time, and now you have applied to apply. All you need to do is wait for the response of the abroad office (it would be sad if they said no halfway through this process, but don’t worry, it’s only a small possibility). But it can happen, so don’t be so sure of yourself! Yay Brandeis! But once you’ve gotten accepted to apply, it is smooth sailing. All you need to do is forget that you are going abroad until mid-June when you need to apply to the real program because you forgot that you still need to do that after basically already applying two times over.
However, I know there are some of you out there who are thinking about that time between March and June when there is nothing to do. Well do not sweat it even a little bit because DCL now has their time in the Thunderdome with you. They do not pull any punches, so do not worry about housing because they aren’t! They may kick you to the streets and not give you housing or not inform you at all about how abroad housing works, and now you are stuck in Village with juuling midyears. But it could be worse, you could be denied the option to apply to apply to go abroad instead.
At the end of the day, no matter how you look at it, Brandeis is full of hurdles. They do not make things easy for you, and honestly it is to make sure that you are not signing up for things loosely and unintentionally. They want to make sure you are taking things seriously because studying abroad is scary. You may not know the language fully, and it is a completely new environment, and not just everyone is prepared for it in life at this point. So, the hurdles serve a purpose—besides feeding the donors, of course—to make sure you are firm in your resolve to see the world as an adult. And hey, when you’re out there, take a shot for Louis—you earned it.