Cobleskill Travel Blog

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Winter in New York
I flew back into Boston and took the Logan Express out to Framingham so my mother didn't have to drive the extra hour to get me. It is never a pleasant thing to get off a plane with no one waiting for you-- even worse around Christmas time when most everyone else is greeted with shreaking and hugging. It felt even worse waiting out on the bus platform. It struck me how different the US was immediately. There was no one on the streets. 7:30pm and not a soul was out.
My mother didn't notice me get off the bus--didn't see me til I got in the building. I kept my hat on because I just couldn't bear the added anxiety of being pressed about my hair. The ride back was quiet, as was the reception at home. Twenty minutes of questions--I could have just come back from New York City not four months of seeing the world--then it was off to bed like I'd never left. I took it hard.
The feeling of inertia continued for months. Everything looked different, nothing felt good. Learning in a classroom felt impossible, sleeping in the same bed every night felt stifling. I kept in touch with others as much as possible, but it seems I was the oddity--home was still home to everyone else. Jeremy was my link to this alternate life that I liked much better than the one I was living. His advice to me was "Take another trip... as soon as possible."

Seven months later I was in Serbia when I received an 'anonymous' group email calling CHT alumni to arms. That year's Europe tour-- Fall 2003--would be the final semester length CHT program. Hit hard by post 9/11 travel conservativism, group size had dwindled from 40+ the late 90's-- the creme de la creme picked from a pool of eager applicants, to just over 20 students--anyone who was interested. The school had decided that it was not worth the risk now that it was no longer the cash cow it once was, and was going to back burner CHT in favor of developing shorter, more affordable programs abroad tailored to EMU students. ECHT and it's Asian counter part ACHT would live on, but in the form of six week summer programs. There would no longer be a full time "Director" -- the title would be doled out to the point person on any given tour. The current director was about to be unceremoniously swept out the door. I wrote a letter that night and mailed it from Belgrade over the weekend. To the best of my knowledge, many others did the same--and even took more drastic measures of protest. Bureaucracy won in the end.

Everytime I get thinking about it, I get outraged. This seems to be an ongoing pattern in American universities. Shortly after ECHT, Semester at Sea was dropped by its sponsor school. Exchange agreements expire and are never renewed. Costs rise. Programs of study grow more and more regimented and limited to the point that a term abroad is just impossible to fit without spilling over into a ninth or tenth semester. It is as though a thousand forces are conspiring to keep American students at home. Options are smaller in number and there is a new trend of privately run study abroad programs--accredited but not allied with any particular school. Monetary profit and academic ambassadorship walking hand and hand.
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Winter in New York
Winter in New York
28,345 km (17,613 miles) traveled
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photo by: kebrunn