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The strain of studying abroad senior year

Photo via While searching for summer internships, junior Rafael Scharan stumbled upon a six-month internship with Boeing, a leading ...

Apr 20, 2013

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While searching for summer internships, junior Rafael Scharan stumbled upon a six-month internship with Boeing, a leading aviation company with headquarters in Seattle. The duration of the internship would involve Scharan studying abroad for part of his senior year.
“It was super competitive, so I didn’t think I would even be accepted,” said Scharan.
Once offered the prestigious internship, he could not turn down the opportunity to intern for a company he had dreamed to work for.
“I love aviation, I love business, I thought it was too good of an offer to let go,” he said.
Although senior year is already a busy year, filled with uncertainty about future career plans, living situations and jobs; a few juniors have decided to study abroad in their fall semester of their senior year. Like Scharan, most juniors have not planned from the beginning to be studying abroad so late, but opportunities presented themselves that aligned with their interests.
For both NYUNY seniors Chris Fanikos and Grace Patterson, that opportunity was a Residential Assistant position at NYUAD. Neither had planned on studying abroad their senior year, but the opportunity to live abroad and travel was enticing. Patterson had never been out of the country and being an RA provided an affordable way to explore. As a Middle Eastern studies major, Abu Dhabi provided Fanikos with the opportunity to travel more extensively in the Middle East.
“The perks of coming here are pretty extensive,” Fanikos said. “NYUAD offers academic experiences that I couldn’t get elsewhere. Namely, you can take Advanced Arabic as an undergrad. You can take it as an undergrad in New York but it is extremely difficult to get into because it is a graduate course.”
That being said, it can be very difficult to go through senior year abroad.
“Certain quirks of senior year, certain challenges, you feel like you are going through them alone,” Fanikos explained. “It was difficult. I had to say my goodbyes my junior year.”
Senior year is a challenging time as one looks forward to the future. But, it can also be a time to come together as a class and to finish strong while supporting each other. By studying abroad during the fall of their senior year, students may feel left out from the excitement nearing the end of their four years with friends.
Both Fanikos and Peterson are anxiously waiting for their final month in Abu Dhabi before they fly back to New York to graduate with their peers on the Square.
For junior Peter Ndichu, being an RA his junior year meant he could not study abroad when most of his peers were dispersed among the GNU sites abroad. For others thinking of possibly being an RA their junior year, Ndichu recommended it with caution.
“It might be a little challenging depending on what you are planning to do with yourself,” Ndichu said. “So if you want to be an RA [during] your junior year and take two semesters abroad it can be really tricky.”
Despite the challenge, Ndichu is looking forward to being in New York next year.
“I wanted to take more advanced economics courses in New York and there are lots of opportunities to network with professionals in the business industry,” he said.
As career prospects loom over the heads of the soon-to-be seniors, positioning themselves in the best place to network is key to getting a foot in the door for post-university plans.
Junior Juan Felipe Beltran chose to complete a full year abroad in New York, starting now in the spring and continuing into the fall semester. Unlike many of his peers, Beltran had strategically planned his study abroad for his senior year early on. By taking programming classes in Abu Dhabi, he was able to take full use of the opportunities in New York including research with professors and access to the Motion Capture studio at Digitas Labs, a partner with NYU’s Movement Lab.
Beltran shared his philosophy on the global education experience.
“I’m all for exploration,” Beltran said, “but I find it to be the most valuable once we’ve had the time to get a rough idea for which direction we want to pursue.”
Nicole López Del Carril is a contributing writer. Email her at
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