Seems like I’ve talked to a number of first-years and sophomores lately about whether and when to go abroad. To the question of “should I do it?” my answer is an unequivocal “yes, as long as your family is ok with it” (I can’t make that decision for anyone else). Almost without exception, everyone I have ever known that has gone abroad said it was their best semester and the one in which they experienced the most personal growth.
The idea of when to go abroad takes me back to my oft-used notion of Column A and Column B. In life, there are many choices – and most of us want to choose something from Column A and Column B on the menu. But sometimes you get only one choice, and with all choices come pros and cons.
Many of our students go abroad in the fall. Some of the pros to going abroad in the fall are: more of their friends will be there at the same time, they can share the experience, they can be back home in spring for recruitment (if they are Greek), etc. Some of the cons are: they miss football and soccer season, and when they return, they will most likely be living in a room with someone else they may or may not know (I often tease my students by saying there is no magical, Hogwart’s residence hall that stays empty in the fall waiting to have students return in the spring).
So I tell my students ‘if it is important to you to go abroad in the fall with all your friends, know that the trade off is that you might end up getting assigned to a room that is not with one of your existing friends, or may not be your preferred residence hall.’ On the other hand, if it is vitally important to you to live with someone you choose, in the residence hall you want, you might be better off going abroad in the spring instead.’ (This past year was an anomaly in housing for students returning from abroad, in that we had Angelou, a new residence hall, open – which allowed pairs of friends to room together. Even then, not all people could fit in there and many students were filling the beds in other suites and residence halls).
Speaking of housing, one more point to ponder (or maybe a myth to bust). I have received a few questions from parents who’ve been on campus recently and have seen the construction that’s taking place at the corner of Long Road and University Parkway. Some have asked if those are new residence halls or student apartments that the university is building. The answer to that is no. Deacon Place is a private construction effort that does not have an official affiliation with Wake Forest or Residence Life and Housing.
Also, please know that students are bound by a three-year residency requirement, which effectively means that only seniors are free to live off campus. So you would want to make sure you are not signing a lease or renting an apartment for a student unless it is for a senior, as you would still be billed for the on-campus residence.