JYA Advice from Sociology Alums

In light of the ever-expanding scope of globalization in and around our lives, sociology majors are encouraged to spend their junior year studying abroad in established Vassar College programs or non-affiliated programs around the world. What follows is a sampling of recent JYA programs undertaken by sociology students at Vassar. For more information about junior year abroad, consult the International Programs website.


“I went JYA to Cape Town, South Africa Spring ’07. I had an amazing experience. It was great because I could take classes at the university where many classes on African history and sociology were offered that I wouldn’t have been available to me otherwise. Not a Vassar program.”
—Asher Levinthal ’08


“I did go JYA, on an SIT (School for International Training) program in Amsterdam. The program theme was sexuality and gender identity. I greatly enjoyed the program, and would highly recommend it, or any SIT program, to Vassar students. I particularly valued the opportunity to live in a homestay, and Amsterdam was a wonderful city to live in. It was not a Vassar-sponsored program.”
—Julia Golomb ’08

“I went JYA in Amsterdam, Netherlands in the spring of 2010. The program was the School of International Training: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender. The School of International Training is based in the US and the address is 1 Kipling Road, PO Box 676, Brattleboro, VT 05302. I loved the program! I would definitely recommend it to Sociology majors (I’m actually a current Alumni Mentor for the program) specifically because the program includes an Independent Study Project that requires sociological research/field work. In addition, I thought the program was a perfect mix of academic learning, cultural immersion, travel, and fun.”
—Katie Atkins ’11


“I went JYA to Copenhagen, Denmark, to study Migration and Identity through the Danish Institute of Study Abroad. I would absolutely recommend it, it’s a great program and Copenhagen is a great city. It was not sponsored by Vassar, but I found out about it through the Vassar JYA office, and a lot of Vassar kids go.”
—Mauve McCoy ’10

“I did go JYA, with the Danish Institute for Study Abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, in Spring 2010. I was in their European Politics and Society semester-long program, studying political science and sociology with a focus on Danish, Scandinavian, and European approaches and issues. It is not a Vassar program. I would recommend it to students who are interested in the region and who are self-motivated. The courses do not ask for much and the program is definitely set up so that students can enjoy themselves outside of class a lot. However, the professors, who are culled from different Danish universities and various organizations, are easily accessible and a self-motivated student can gain a lot from studying there.”
—Oleg Telyukov ’11


“I did go JYA during the Fall 2009 semester—it was SIT Fiji: Multiculturalism & Social Change, which unfortunately does not exist anymore. But I would have recommended it (and I wholeheartedly recommend studying through SIT)!” 
—Adam Shapiro ’11


“I went JYA to South India Term Abroad, in Madurai, India. Address: South India Term Abroad, Office for Study Abroad, George Washington Univ., 812 20th St., NW, Washington, DC 20052. I would definitely recommend it—it’s not your typical study abroad experience, but it’s an amazing cultural immersion experience which few people get in their lifetimes. The host family experience was wonderful and the program was well-run. I also got the idea for my senior thesis from my work there, which I did on modern Indian arranged marriages. I eventually also wrote a magazine article on the topic after I graduated. This program was not sponsored by Vassar.”
—Katherine Goldstein ’06


“I went to University College Dublin (UCD), Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland. I went for a fall semester, from 9/05-12/05. The program was not sponsored by Vassar. It was fun and a well-run program. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for the Sociology classes themselves (I took much more interesting and rigorous courses at Vassar than at UCD).” 
—Kristin Mikolowsky ’07


Vassar Morocco Program, Mohammed V. University in Rabat, Morocco—program discontinued.
—Kaitlin Butler ’07


“I chose to spend my year abroad as a Visiting Student at Oxford University, where I studied gender inequality, criminology, and social theory in tutorials across campus. In addition to the benefits of being immersed in an international community in Europe, I learned much from the resources of a larger university, which complemented my studies at Vassar. In my time away, I also helped a law professor with research for a British Academy-funded project on parenting expertise in youth justice. This was a fascinating and challenging endeavor. Overall, I had a wonderful time drinking tea, reading in beautiful old libraries and also backpacking in search of Islamic art and architecture in Andalusia on breaks. I would definitely recommend this experience, and particularly St. Catherine’s College, Oxford’s youngest college and one of the university’s most diverse and exciting communities. That being said, I certainly missed Vassar and the Sociology department while abroad, and my return to campus has been exhilarating. In particular, I am so grateful for the flexibility, openness, and energy of the department.”
—Sydney Hessel ’12


“I did go JYA the summer before Junior year to Paris with a program that was not affiliated with Vassar. It was terrible and had nothing to do with Sociology. I do not recommend it to anyone.”
—Nora Schlesinger ’06

Prague, Czech Republic

“NYU in Prague (Fall 2004; approved by Vassar but not taken through Vassar). I would definitely recommend it, if for no other reason than that I really enjoyed living in Prague.”
—Hamilton Jordan ’06


“I did go JYA in Fall 2004 to Smolny Institute, a Program through Bard College to St. Petersburg, Russia. Physical address: 190000, Galernaya ulitsa, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia 58-60. I would recommend the program. It is not sponsored by Vassar.”
—Mary Casper ’06


“I did go JYA. I went to Edinburgh, Scotland the spring semester of 2009. I studied at the University of Edinburgh and went through the IFSA Butler program. I loved it, and the program was great. They were really helpful and they organized a few trips so we could see the country. The university itself was really friendly to transfer students and I was able to take classes that weren’t offered at Vassar.”
—Laura Kikuchi ’10


“I went JYA. I studied abroad through the Vassar-Wesleyan Program in Madrid in the fall of 2004 and spring of 2005. I attended the University of Carlos III in Getafe, Spain. I loved the program and would definitely recommend it. I was only supposed to study abroad for the fall of 2004, but I loved the program so much that while I was in Madrid, I was able to apply for, and receive, permission to go back in the spring of 2005. Since I was abroad for a full year, I decided to double-major in Sociology and Hispanic Studies. The program was sponsored by Vassar.”
—Bailey Trevisan ’06

“Cultural Experiences Abroad—Fall 2005—University of Seville, Calle San Fernando, 41004 Seville, Spain. I enjoyed the program primarily because it was not a Vassar program and enriched my JYA experience. The program included trips to other cities in Spain and Portugal and began with an inter-cambio/intensive language institute; a great way to meet people from countries all over the world early on. I did not like that all of the American students were grouped together in classes separated from Spanish. At the same time, the course work at the regular university was an option for students who were of advanced proficiency.”
—Ashley Richardson ’07

“I participated in the Vassar/Wesleyan JYA program in Madrid, Spain. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to improve their Spanish and live in a fun and dynamic city.”
—Rosanna Herrera ’07

“I went on the Vassar-Wesleyan Madrid program and attended the University of Carlos III in Getafe, Madrid, Spain in the Fall of 2007. I did enjoy the program and would recommend it to students. The program supported much of our travel and took us on trips around Spain that were structured in a way that was helpful, but also granted sufficient free time. The classes were great and varied. The only drawback is that the campus is outside of Madrid, but overall, a good experience.”
—Karishma Chanda ’09

“I did go JYA on the Vassar-Wesleyan in Madrid program. There, I attended the Universidad Carlos Tercero. I would certainly recommend the program, as it continued the inspiring learning that takes place in the Vassar classroom, abroad.”
—Jenny Nigro ’10

“I participated in the Vassar-Wesleyan Madrid program in the fall of 2010, during my junior year. VWM is a four-month program based in Madrid, during which students live with host families and attend Universidad Carlos III located about thirty minutes outside of the city. The program included field trips throughout Spain and numerous activities with the people on the program within Madrid to help us get to know the city. The program also allowed us free and reduced admission into cultural centers, art museums, and theater productions, as well as compensation for train and bus rides to cities nearby so that we could fully experience the culture and diversity of Spain. We attended classes at the university, both with other American students and with the Spanish students. I took classes in many areas including geography, language, and media studies, but I certainly felt most at home in my environmental sociology class. It was interesting exploring similar topics through a different cultural lens and coming to know how American society is viewed from an outside perspective. The professor was also a prominent figure in the Spanish environmental world so I was able to attend an environmental conference in the city while I was there. These experiences were invaluable in my growth as a sociology major and I certainly enjoyed every aspect of my time spent abroad.”
—Danielle Falzon ’12


“I went JYA in Spring 2009 to Khon Kaen, Thailand. I participated in a program offered by CIEE called “Development and Globalization”. The program used Khon Kaen University (KKU) facilities, but we weren’t matriculated like normal students.”
—Catherine Fuller ’10