John Belk International Program launching students worldwide

Sophomores now have over 150 travel options to choose from for their junior year | Stefan Liotchev


The John Belk International Program is going through a complete overhaul for the 2012-13 school year, with many more countries for students to choose from and no more camping overnight to get preferred countries.

Details of the new application process and all international study program locations will be revealed at 4 p.m. Feb. 22 at a gala “pre-release” party for all sophomores in Burwell Hall.

On Feb. 23, the JBIP office will release a 67-page catalog detailing each the revised program on the Queens website. This is the first time that Queens is instituting such an extensive catalog, says Holly Carter, director of the JBIP program. In previous years, students received a short packet giving brief descriptions of each trip.

Students now can choose from 150 different cities and universities on every continent except Antarctica, compared to an average of about 25 currently, according to Carter.

The JBIP department is keeping the exact locations and faculty leading the trips under tight wraps until the Feb. 22 event.

Current sophomores will have the following options for the type of international experience:

“Queens in…” The newest addition, this program will give students the opportunity to spend an entire month in a foreign city and live in apartments independently. Students will be accompanied by professors who will guide them in trips and exhibitions Monday through Thursday. Students will be able to explore of their own Friday through Sunday. This experience will provide a real taste of what it feels like to live in a foreign city without having to study an entire semester abroad, says Carter.

Language immersion, allowing students to spend a month living in a foreign city with a host family where only the local language is spoken. Students also will take classes at a local school in the local language.

The summer internship program is an option for anyone who is looking to get experience at working conditions in a different culture and wants to fulfill the school’s internship requirement

Semester Abroad allows students to attend a foreign university for an academic semester. Students will be able to take classes in your major and receive credits that will count toward graduation.

The study tour is a three-week trip of one or more countries where students travel to different cities and visit museums, experience nature and city life, and just take in a country’s culture. “There is something for everyone,” says Carter.

The broader amount of countries is possible in part because of Queens’ affiliation with the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP), a non-profit organization that the university pays to join. There are currently over 300 members from 50 countries in the ISEP. The ISEP is a platform that allows these member institutions to communicate with each other in order to provide an affordable and accessible international education experience for college students. “The ISEP is simply under the JBIP umbrella [of programs],” said Carter.

The application process has received a facelift as well. Gone are the days of camping out in McEwen Hall the night before applications are due. “That (camping out) just wasn’t an effective method.” says Carter, who joined Queens last summer from Augusta State University. “Students would camp out all night and some would get the trips they wanted, while others were left disappointed and left feeling that they wasted their time (camping out).”

Under the new application procedures, from Feb. 23 until after spring break, sophomores will be given time to review the catalog and think about what option they want to pursue and where they want to go. Beginning on March 12 until the end of the month, there will be “Study Abroad 101” meetings. Every sophomore wishing to participate in the 2013 study tours has to attend at least one meeting. These meetings will be separated among the program choices. The meetings will take place during all times of the day.

“There is no excuse for sophomores not to be able to attend,” says Carter.

There are two types of applications – the selective and the open. The selective is for the trips that have more intense requirements such as study abroad and the language immersion programs. Students applying with the selective application will have to meet with the respective professor who will lead the trip for an interview and possibly have to turn in an essay. Selective applications are due March 30. Students will learn if they were accepted for their trip by April 7.

The open applications are for all of the other trips that don’t have any specific prerequisites. Students are not at a disadvantage if they apply for a selective trip and are rejected. They still can for an open trip. On the application, students will be asked to list their top three choices and then answer questions why they picked those countries. Open applications are due on April 13.

After the JBIP office reviews all of the applications, sophomores will be notified before they go home for the summer where they will be traveling after their junior year.

Sophomores will have a chance to meet individually with the professors taking part in the 2012-13 JBIP program between Feb. 23 and March 12 to ask questions and share concerns.

Carter hopes that the new process will be more effective, but some students interviewed had a mixed reaction.

“I think it’s better not to have to do that (camping),” says sophomore Mathilde Timboni, who plans to travel to Costa Rica for the language immersion program.

Some seniors who traveled on their JBIPs last summer disagree. “That’s not cool. It should be first come, first serve,” says Elena Mileva, who did her language immersion in Berlin. “The early bird gets the worm,” said senior Adam Starr, who traveled to Scotland and England as part of the three-week study tours.

But other fellow upperclassmen who have already traveled abroad  said they are happy to see the new additions of countries and programs. “I think this is a really great change. It will give the students more opportunity to get submerged in other cultures that they wouldn’t necessarily choose,” says senior Paige Gentry, who traveled to Greece. “The university is broadening its horizons and allowing for more opportunity for students.”  Senior Joel Ferdon, who traveled to Scotland and England, adds, “To limit the number of countries limits the amount of education a Queens’ student can receive.”

The pre-release party will include a red carpet featuring Queens professors and faculty. There will even be bouncers at the door and lots of paparazzi. Following the red carpet reception, each professor will reveal the location of their respective study tour they will lead and give a brief presentation about what to expect from each trip.

“It will be a magical night full of adventure and wanderlust,” said senior Anneka Van Scoyoc, who is helping design and plan the event.

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Published by students of Queens University of Charlotte, 1900 Selwyn Avenue, Charlotte, N.C. 28274.