Studying abroad can be an intimidating experience for many college students. Being halfway across the world from family and friends is sometimes too much. Through the Associated Colleges of the Midwest study abroad program, students are able to “study abroad” in a more familiar place. The ACM offers an Urban Studies program that allows students to study in Chicago for a semester.
Senior Kim Howard of Bloomingdale, Ill., took full advantage of the Urban Studies program this semester. An educational studies major, Howard was sure she’d be student teaching in the Monmouth school district. But one of her professors, Craig Vivian, kept encouraging her to look into the Urban Studies program, and she said she’s very glad she did.
Through the ACM, Howard gets to experience Chicago to its fullest while paying Monmouth’s tuition.
“It’s a completely different thing than being here in Monmouth,” said Howard, who was back on campus last week to share her experiences with current students. “Instead of being stuck in a lecture for two hours, you get to go to places like the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum for your seminar class.”
Students in the program live in apartments that are located in a college-centered part of the city, so they don’t feel too out of place. The apartment and all transportation are included in the tuition.
Howard also discussed the diverse student teaching opportunities that Chicago offers. For students looking into music education, for example, the ACM program tries to match them up with a school that focuses primarily on music.
“They’re going to put you wherever you think your strength is and push you to get better,” said Howard.
Being in Chicago also gives students the chance to experience things that they might never have before. For example, at the school where Howard is student teaching, world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed for the students.
The Urban Studies program also tries to match up students with professionals who have gone through the ACM program before. This can help students build connections to possible future employers. Howard was able to get her résumé out to seven different principals who had all gone through the Urban Studies program.
“Every single thing that I have done with the program has been so wonderful,” she said. “I’m so glad I chose to do it.”