Think Globally

Yes, it is possible to earn college credit by researching rhinos in Botswana and studying Spanish in Ecuador. Get out your passport and sign on with one of the nation's leading study-abroad programs.

Sep 1, 2003
Outside Magazine

University Studies Abroad Consortium (775-784-6569, Choose from among 19 countries in Africa, Europe, Asia, and Oceania. The International Partnership for Service Learning (212-986-0989, With contacts in India, Ecuador, Russia, and ten other countries, IPSL enriches cultural experiences by having students live with a local family and volunteer in the community. School for International Training (800-257-7751, SIT advocates an interdisciplinary, experiential, field-based approach through dozens of programs worldwide—from wildlife ecology in Tanzania to cultural studies in Cuba. International Studies Abroad (800-580-8826, ISA pairs students with host universities in 15 cities in Central and South America and Europe, and offers a multicountry semester that takes students from Guanajuato, Mexico, to Buenos Aires and on to Seville, Spain. Council on International Educational Exchange (800-407-8839, CIEE has 60 programs in 29 countries and is particularly strong in Asia.

Forget ruining your eyesight reading all those books! Here are five colleges with a kick-back academic environment, where true commitment to learning means dawn patrol at the local surf break and working long hours on bouldering problems.

University of Nevada Las Vegas, NV If you can tear yourself away from the Strip, the region's oft-overlooked outdoor activities are obvious: Lake Mead, Charleston Peak, the Colorado River, Red Rocks, and the Grand Canyon. Note: The school's Leisure Studies Program is not what you think. (It teaches recreation management skills.) Pepperdine University Malibu, CA Sandwiched between the Santa Monica Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Malibu is home to famous beaches, surf breaks, and movie stars. Founded as a devoutly Christian school, Pepperdine scholarship is taken only as seriously as the Pacific's hypnotic blue presence allows. University of New Hampshire Durham, NH Durham is classic New England, with all the coffeehouses, restaurants, bars, and bookstores you'd expect in a college town. The Atlantic coast and the White Mountains are short drives away, and a favorite local sport is shopping at the L.L. Bean store in Freeport. SUNY College New Paltz, NY The stone cottages of this 300-year-old village attest to the area's history, but the best rock around here is in the Shawangunk Mountains (a.k.a. the 'Gunks). Rollins College Winter Park, FL In a spring tradition known as Fox Day, the college's president places a fox statue on the front lawn, signaling that classes are canceled for the day and precipitating a mass student exodus to Disney World or the beach. Then again, who's going to class, anyway?

In exchange for four years of buzz cuts and 5 a.m. wake-up calls, you'll receive discipline, fitness, and the ultimate outdoor skills

U.S. Military Academy West Point, NY Whether you're a plebe (freshman), yuk (sophomore), cow (junior), or firstie (senior), team sports are mandatory, and the ego-crushing workouts and drills are endless. Blend that with Air Assault School and Mountain Warfare Training and you'll be an Army Ranger or Green Beret in no time. U.S. Naval Academy Annapolis, MD What other school boasts flight simulators, a supersonic wind tunnel, and an extensive fleet of both sailboats and powerboats? But to become a Navy SEAL, you'll also have to hit the books. U.S. Air Force Academy Colorado Springs, CO The academy pairs its land-and-water-survival-skills course with an even more hardcore three weeks of wilderness training in the Rocky Mountains. U.S. Coast Guard Academy New London, CT Newbies develop "a liking for the sea and its lore" on the 295-foot, three-masted sailing cutter Eagle, training ground for elite search-and-rescue squads.

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