Claire Guarini ’22
My "Study Domestic" Experience
There was a lot of uncertainty in the world when my friends and I were all sent home a year ago. And for us, whether we would get to study abroad was certainly a big concern. We were all supposed to study abroad in Europe in the fall of 2020. Unfortunately, the consequences of the pandemic clearly persisted past the spring semester, and our study abroad experience was cancelled.
I was initially extremely disappointed that I would miss out on this experience. As an IS major in particular, the study abroad experience is emphasized as an integral part of the program. It gives majors the ability to move beyond merely learning about global cultures in a two-dimensional, classroom environment and instead, move towards a more holistic understanding. Personally, I was really hoping to use my study abroad experience to put into practice everything I had learned in the program thus far and develop some new skills that would serve me well in the future.
College life has altered greatly since we all arrived back to campus in the fall. And while I was appreciative that I was able to even return to BC in the first place, part of me was still disappointed about missing out on my study abroad experience. My friends and I wanted to do something that could try and fill that gap. So, we started collaborating to think of a solution.
Perhaps the greatest strength of the study abroad experience is that it provides students with the chance to thoroughly explore their host country. It occurred to me though that I had never taken the opportunity to do the same with Boston. Now in my third year at BC, I was still unable to name most of the neighborhoods within the city. This sparked our idea to turn our study abroad experience into a "study domestic" experience. One of the biggest advantages of Boston College (and one that I greatly considered during my college application process) is its proximity to the city. But whether my priority was homework, clubs, or other on-campus activities, I had never really taken the chance to truly explore Boston. With this little experiment all of that changed. From the Seaport District to Back Bay to Fenway to the North End to BC’s own backyard, Brighton, my friends and I (safely and in a socially distanced manner) explored them all.
Despite not being abroad for the fall, I was still able to apply some of my IS major to Boston. I was able to form new connections with people throughout the city as well as learn more about the local Bostonian culture that I had not been aware of as someone from outside of New England. Notably, I have probably an even greater appreciation for the quintessential Boston accent. It is something that is not very common to hear within the confines of Chestnut Hill, so it was definitely an added bonus to meet anyone that had a really thick accent.
On a different note, I think something that can get overlooked at times in the IS program is the importance of learning about and exploring one’s own nation. Naturally, we all picked this program because we want to explore the world outside of the United States. Yet, the biggest lesson that I learned from this quasi-study abroad experience was the importance of appreciating one’s own home. Looking at your own roots provides a solid starting point for then moving to other corners of the globe.
I would like to urge all students in the major to keep in mind that we only have four years at BC and whether you are from the Boston area, another part of the United States, or another country, take some time while you are here to explore all that Boston has to offer because I truly think that it will help you create a unique foundation for whatever it is that you hope to pursue in the future.
Claire Guarini ’22