Oregon, USA

Junior Bryant Burkhart, a Sociology and Theology major, spent the last semester among the trees and mountains of Oregon, away from the structure of traditional college life. There he studied one subject at a time and bonded closely with the 24 other students who went.

“I first heard about (The Oregon Extension) freshman year and decided I wanted to go,” Burkhart said. “It sounded like a unique opportunity.”

Professors who teach in the program visited various classrooms to garner students’ interest and encourage them to apply. As a double major, Burkhart found that the O.E. fit nicely with his academic goals.

“I could get 16 credits of any classes I wanted,” he said. Burkhart also explained that while other study abroad programs have their own requirements that must be taken beforehand, the O.E. didn’t, meaning he didn’t have to take 18 credits at Eastern every semester in order to go.

The semester was broken up into four segments during which students completed projects. They chose a topic and read about 100 pages a day for a 600 page weekly minimum. During the middle two segments, they wrote two papers, 3-4,000 words each, and in the last segment they gave an hour long presentation on their topics.

“It was nice to be able to direct myself and study what I wanted to,” Burkhart said.

Every morning when he wasn’t working on a project, he would attend a lecture from 9-10:30 followed by a discussion group from 11-12:30 where he talked about the previous day’s reading. He had the rest of the afternoon and evening to read. While working on projects, however, he would wake up and read for the whole day as well as meet with his advisor for an hour.

Burkhart and the other students had no homework over the weekends, so they would go hiking in the woods and mountains. They also had short breaks between sessions where they went to the Oregon coast and San Francisco in small groups.

Overall, Burkhart’s favorite aspects of the program were the community and the work load. “Work wise, it was about the same (as Eastern),” he said. “I did 6-8 hours for every hour of class I had… There was quite a bit of note taking that was required… but because we were only focusing on one subject at a time it was less intense. It was a really good experience. Even if you don’t agree with it, it’ll stretch you.”

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