Travel bug’ bites student body

by James Joy

When Ellie Ankeny thinks about her May term class, it is not anissue of what class; it is an issue of where.

Ankeny isn’t transferring, it’s traveling that’s on hermind.

A Spanish major, Ankeny is a staunch supporter of SimpsonCollege’s study-abroad programs. These programs allow students totravel to other countries with college guides to study and learnfrom different cultures.

Ankeny was all smiles when she described her bungee-jumpingexperience in Nicaragua.

“I’m a small town girl, and we were jumping off of the tallestbridge in North America,” Ankeny said. “It was something I neverthought I would do.”

Students like Ankeny take advantage of extensive language andcultural interaction.

However, as Ankeny mentioned, there is always time for studentsto take a break and have some fun.

Many students like Ankeny return from their travel-abroadprograms and cannot wait for another opportunity to travel.

The number of students traveling during May term has been slowlyincreasing since a sharp drop after Sept. 11. Last May, 169students took a trip abroad, compared to 224 students in May of2001.

The “travel bug” affects many students once they take theirfirst trip.

“Students are usually nervous about it at first,” Ankeny said,”But then when you get there you are excited to seeeverything.”

Currently, Simpson has three programs that are directlysponsored by the college. Students can study in London every otherfall, and in Germany or Nicaragua every other spring.

Ankeny said her trip to Nicaragua changed her outlook on life.She witnessed firsthand the poor living conditions of most peoplein Nicaragua, and it made her wonder why everything here in theUnited States needs to be large and extravagant.

“After I got back, I tried to consume less and not be somaterialistic,” Ankeny said.

The majority of students who travel abroad have to find somekind of financial aid to help finance their trips.

Students who qualify for Simpson-sponsored and affiliatedprograms may use Simpson’s financial aid for a total of threesemesters.

According to Registrar John Bolen, factors that limit the numberof terms students study abroad are price and the availability offinancial aid.

“Financial aid usually limits it,” Bolen said. “[But] we alsowatch the progress of students towards graduation and make surethey are on track.”

Ankeny gives the same advice to students who are thinking abouttraveling that she gave herself while looking over the edge of thebridge: “Do it, take advantage of the opportunity.”