WHAT IS PARKS & PEOPLE (SOUTH AFRICA)?
Parks & People (South Africa) is a spring semester abroad experience offered through the Department of Geography and Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Penn State. The program takes students on a 10-week road trip across South Africa exploring the fascinating ways in which humans engage with their natural environment.
Topics of sustainability, biodiversity, climate change, health and food security are just a few of the areas explored throughout the 15 credit semester.
WHO TAKES PART IN PARKS & PEOPLE (SOUTH AFRICA)?
The program seeks to engage a cross-section of the Penn State population and is open to all majors and classifications. Each year teams of students and faculty representing different colleges, campuses, and classifications live, work and travel together across South Africa sharing and gaining perspectives on issues of global relevance.
The chart below shows the range of academic disciplines that have participated in the Parks & People experience over a 6-year period
HOW DO I APPLY FOR PARKS & PEOPLE?
Online applications for Parks & People begin in mid-February for the following spring cohort (e.g. applications will open in Feb 2017 for travel in spring 2018). Applications are available through Penn State’s Global Programs Office (website below) on a rolling admission basis. Rolling admission allows applications to be accepted throughout the year.
The publicly accessible online application process is closed during the summer semesters and after Sept 15 each year. Applicants can still apply during the summer months or after September 15 by sending an email to the program director (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by sending a private message to the Parks & People Facebook site (facebook.com/parksandpeoplesouthafrica ).
What if I apply and then change my mind?
Completing an application allows students to move into the interview process of the program. If your expectations and the programs expectations align and you are accepted after the application, you will receive an offer letter via email. You are not committed to the program until you respond positively to the offer letter. You are free to decline the offer without any further action.
We kindly ask that you share your reason for declining with us so that we can continue to improve our program and create more opportunities for students.
HOW CAN THIS PROGRAM ENHANCE A STUDENT’S ACADEMIC GOALS?
In addition to being a great resume builder, Parks & People alums have been able to use his experience in a number of ways post travel. Some of our students have been successful in using the research skills gained to apply for graduate schools, some focus on the immersive, hands-on environment to highlight their abilities to work in complex, real life environments, still others use the program as an opportunity to demonstrate personal experiences regarding current issues of global relevance. Some have even used this experience to support successful applications for Fulbright scholarships. Regardless of how students choose to use Parks & People to enhance their future goals, we offer a follow-up, professional development course each fall to help students reflect on and articulate their experiences to future supervisors and employers.
A number of our alums have used this program to gain a minor in Geography. Any additional 3-credit Geography course (including the professional development course) provides Parks & People students with the necessary 18 credits that make them eligible for a minor in Geography.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO PARTICIPATE IN PARKS & PEOPLE?
The Parks & People experience is designed to be equivalent in cost to a semester in residence. There are three major expenses for the program: tuition, program fee and airfare. Students are expected to pay their tuition as they would during any other semester in residence. In addition, students are expected to pay a program fee of $4495.00 in addition to purchasing their own airline ticket. Airline tickets typically range in cost from $1200.00 to $1700.00 round trip. While in South Africa the program covers all accommodation, in-country transportation, major meals and program activities.
A more detailed breakdown of expenses can be found on the Global Programs website: http://gpglobalea.gp.psu.edu/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.BudgetSheet&Term=Spring&Program_ID=10228
Can my scholarships, loans or financial aid be used to fund this semester abroad?
Yes, Parks & People is a Penn State program and all expenses are handled through the Bursar’s office, similar to a semester of courses on campus. This means loans and scholarships that are eligible for a semester on campus are also eligible for funding this experience.
DO I NEED A VISA TO TRAVEL TO SOUTH AFRICA?
If you have an American passport you are allowed 90 days in South Africa without a visa. The Parks & People experience is 70 days long and students have the opportunity to spend some time in South Africa exploring the country after the program is over.
This may not apply to students that have passports from other countries. Please check the South African embassy or consulate website for information if you do not have an American passport or contact the program director for guidance (email@example.com).
SPECIFIC TRAVEL QUESTIONS