Each year, hundreds of Johns Hopkins undergraduates
temporarily trade in Homewood campus
life for an enriching, perhaps once-in-a-lifetime
experience in a foreign country. Now they have some
extra support and quality control for that academic jaunt
This summer, the university created the
Study Abroad, an entity that will oversee
study abroad programs for the schools of Arts and Sciences
and Engineering, and hired Lori Citti to
be its director.
The office currently resides in Garland Hall but this
January will move into a permanent facility
in Levering Hall that will serve as a central hub for
information on study abroad programs offered by
Johns Hopkins, partnering universities and other
Previously, Ruth Aranow in the
Office of Academic Advising handled study abroad
a part-time basis. However, a faculty committee, convened
this past spring to examine study abroad
issues, concluded that a full-time director and a
centralized office would better serve the university.
John Bader, associate dean for academic programs and
advising, said that Aranow had done an
"outstanding job" given her limited time and resources, but
the university wanted a person and office
devoted to study abroad programs.
"As a major university, it has seemed somewhat behind
the times to not offer such directed
services, as nearly all of our peers do," Bader said. "With
Lori in place, we feel we can now develop a
more vetted and focused list of programs overseas, in terms
of rigor and quality, and provide better
support of our programs. This new office can give study
abroad a higher profile."
Bader said that the new office will also address the
needs of natural sciences and engineering
students, a population that doesn't traditionally take part
in study overseas.
"Generally speaking, they don't think about how the
international experience fits into their
college life, and we wanted to confront that issue," Bader
said. "In that way, this office represents a
nice convergence of missions for the Homewood schools."
Prior to arriving at Johns Hopkins, Citti was deputy
director of international programs for
Georgetown University and previously had served as
assistant director for admissions in the Division
of International Programs at Syracuse University. She
earned a doctorate in Russian history, with a
minor field in modern East Asian history, from Indiana
In her new role, Citti offers advising, logistical
support and transfer-credit assistance.
Currently, nearly 20 percent of Homewood
undergraduates participate in some kind of
international learning experience during their four years,
and 11 percent enroll in a semester- or
yearlong program abroad, typically during their junior
The current top destinations are Florence, Madrid,
Paris and London, but JHU undergraduates
have studied on nearly every continent (not Antarctica,
yet), with an increasing number traveling to
In addition to the allure of living in locales such as
London or Sydney, Australia, students choose
to study abroad to earn credits (up to 30) toward a major,
minor or degree, or for a noncredit
internship experience. All students in good academic
standing can study abroad in the summer or
during intersession, and juniors and first-semester seniors
may go during the academic year.
Citti said that the university embraces the
opportunities for international education and that
her position and the new office will offer a more
comprehensive way to advise students.
The office in Levering Hall is expected to open in
mid-January, at which time a new study
abroad Web site will be launched. The office will feature a
meeting room for one-on-one advising
sessions and a bank of computers to research hundreds of
international learning programs. It will
initially be staffed by Citti, an administrative assistant
and student employees who will offer peer
Citti has already initiated a series of information
sessions to let students know about
international learning experiences, and what they need to
know before they go. In her pre-departure
workshops, Citti talks about basic health and safety,
insurance matters, cultural transition and
emergency contact information--in short, everything from
language barriers to how to stretch a dollar
while living in a foreign place.
Citti said that she wants to concentrate on quality,
"One of the reasons I took this position is that the
university is not focused on numbers, trying
to get a certain number of students to participate in study
abroad," Citti said. "Rather, Johns Hopkins
wants to put forth a very solid program with a good
infrastructure to deal with matters such as legal
issues associated with international travel, transfer of
credits to the person's academic degree or
understanding the policies and procedures of the school he
or she will attend."
During the student's stay abroad, the office will also
be an invaluable resource, she said.
"We will be there if something happens, to provide
support for their safety and well-being," she
said. "Some students simply get homesick those first weeks
away, or experience some form of culture
shock or transition anxiety. We will be a point of contact
to help the students address these issues."
Overseas study can be an extremely exciting and
rewarding experience, Citti said. And even
better if you lessen the stress.