May 12, 2023 | FEATURES | By Beatrice Roussell

One beauty of the Block Plan that is absent in semester-based schools is the ability to take a three-and-a-half-week class off-campus at any point throughout the year.

The Block Plan enables students to take a single Colorado College course somewhere across the United States or around the world for three-and-a-half weeks, while also allowing for semester abroad opportunities. As someone who has only traveled abroad for a Block in Scandinavia, I was curious to see how a Block abroad compares to a semester abroad. So, I asked Ana Martin ’25.

Martin took Contemporary Psychoanalysis in Chicago for Block 7. Led by Dr. Marcia Dobson and Dr. John Riker, this class visited the homes of several psychoanalysts who spoke to the students about their theories and various approaches. Martin also spent the second semester of her first year in France.

When I asked her about how the experiences compared, Martin said that the Chicago Block was “less scary socially,” than her Block abroad.

“When I went abroad for an entire semester, there was a huge pause in my social life where I missed my friends a lot,” said Martin. “The time zones were crazy. Where Chicago was an hour difference, I was dealing with like eight, or something like that [in France].”

The length of time away, plus time-zone changes, can make a semester abroad seem incredibly daunting for some students; add in a sense of missing out, and this is enough for many students to forgo the idea of studying abroad all together. This is where a Block abroad has significant benefits.

Martin said her Block to Chicago was less intimidating, as she was able to keep in touch with her friends back at school while also immersing herself in the new city and bonding with the other students in Chicago with her. And contrary to her time in France, she said that she didn’t notice any lapse socially when she got back to CC from Chicago: “I still had all my people.”

Martin made Chicago her home while abroad. She found joy in frequent visits to the Chicago Metropolitan Art Museum, eventually purchasing a membership pass to obtain free admission. She became obsessed with the symphony, which she attended seven times over the course of her time there. She also watched several shows at the famous Second City comedy club, took a trip to the Shedd Aquarium, visited the Sky Deck, and found several running trails by the lake.

A Block abroad provides ample time to live in a new city while reducing some of the pressure associated with a semester abroad. CC is offering a variety of these Blocks next year, including a course to Belize to study ecology, France to study contemporary French society, and Los Angeles to study cinema and psychoanalysis, among several others.

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