'Tis the Season for a Sophomore-Only Study Abroad Experience

'Tis the Season for a Sophomore-Only Study Abroad Experience

Being from the state of Washington, Rowan Parmenter is quite familiar with rainy and cold weather in January, so when the University of San Diego student made his Second-Year Experience Abroad decision — choosing between Florence, Italy or Auckland, New Zealand for three weeks in January — he went seasonal.

“I had never remotely thought about going to New Zealand, so when it was an option, I was immediately intrigued,” said the business economics major and political science minor. “Knowing it was going to be their summer (in our winter), incredibly outdoors based and an extremely unique experience, were all great selling points for Auckland.”

The result was everything Parmenter hoped it would be. “Besides living a normal life in the city, my favorite part was traveling with friends to Queenstown on the South Island where we went to the ever-beautiful Milford Sound, bungee jumped high above the city, and explored Mt. Nicholas farm, a 100,000-acre sheep farm on the shores of Lake Wakatipu.”

It all added up to memories that will last a lifetime for Parmenter, whose only previous international travel had been a family trip to Europe when he was 10. Involved in Beta Theta Pi and Associated Students Government on campus since his arrival, Parmenter was intrigued by the opportunity to study abroad when it came up during first-year orientation. His interest was cemented based on the recommendation of fellow students.

“Hearing from older friends who went on the trip completely convinced me to go."

The Second Year Experience (SYE) Abroad program is an innovative and comprehensive international experience open only to USD sophomores. Students apply during their first year and travel together with their cohort during Intersession of sophomore year. After enrolling, students participate in fall semester seminars to prepare for their time abroad. The SYE Abroad enables students to take a three-unit class taught by a USD faculty member that fulfills a core curriculum requirement and are assigned to an intercultural group organized and led by current USD administrators and staff. The groups meet before departure, while on-site and at USD upon return. They get together for cultural and social activities in San Diego and abroad to strengthen their connection.

Destination cities have varied over the years, but typically, Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, is a favorite of students as a traditional international trip, while Auckland offers a little mystique. It’s the world’s largest Polynesian city and is known for its diverse cultural experiences.

Either choice helps strengthen connections with fellow sophomores. “I made great friendships with so many whom I had only previously met throughout my time at USD,” says Parmenter. “This program allows you to transcend previously held social barriers and construct meaningful friendships with classmates in a very fun environment.”

The current sophomore class is counting down to its January 2020 trip. First-years will soon be deciding which city they’d prefer in January 2021. Prospective students applying to USD for admittance in Fall 2020 and want to take part in the 2022 Second Year Experience Abroad trip may have time right now to suggest cities they’d like USD to explore.

Studying abroad, which USD is consistently ranked at or near the top nationally for undergraduate student participation, makes students’ time at USD special, even life-changing.

“Study abroad is all about balancing school with the very important culture component,” Parmenter said. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to focus on academics. The rest of the time it’s all about taking in as much as you can, whether exploring your city or continent. My best advice in a new city is to turn off Google Maps and take a day to walk and wander the city, because you’ll soon know it by heart.”

And his Second-Year Experience Abroad, Parmenter, like many Toreros, chose to study abroad again. He did a semester experience in Milan, Italy this fall. “I’m studying at Bocconi University. It’s very rigorous academically, with countless opportunities to meet students from all around Europe. I’m taking four classes, the average class size is 80, and I am usually the only American in class, which is a great growing experience.”

— Ryan T. Blystone

Rowan Parmenter heard about the Second Year Experience Abroad opportunity during orientation. In January 2019, he got to explore Auckland, New Zealand on the sophomores-only study abroad trip.Rowan Parmenter heard about the Second Year Experience Abroad opportunity during orientation. In January 2019, he got to explore Auckland, New Zealand on the sophomores-only study abroad trip.

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