Study Abroad in Georgia

Spend J-Term in Georgia!

Want to see the spectacular Caucasus mountains?

Go to the Republic of Georgia January 2009 on a faculty-led trip. Two week internship, 2 academic credits, excursions, home stays and a visit to a fascinating country! Opportunities to take classes in either Russian or Georgian.

For further information contact Professor Stephen Jones, Skinner 104. Telephone: x2428.

About the Program

A study abroad program with an internship in the newly independent state of Georgia

Georgia is an ancient country that sits at the traditional crossroads between Europe and Asia. Its northern border is formed by the Caucasus mountains which stretch from the Black to Caspian seas. To Georgia's south are Armenia and Turkey, to the East, Azerbaijan, and to the north, Russia. Georgia's geographical position makes it a strategically contested territory and empires - from the Roman and Byzantine to the Ottoman and Russian - have occupied Georgian lands over the centuries. As a result, Georgia is a multinational country made up of a myriad of cultural symbols and influences. Georgia's recorded history goes back to the fifth century A.D. The Georgian language belongs to a distinctive Caucasian family of languages and has its own alphabet. Georgian traditions of poetry, dance and hospitality have always attracted European poets and writers. Tolstoy, Lermontov, Pushkin, Alexander Dumas and Knut Hamsun have all written about their adventures in Georgia.

After over a hundred years in the Russian Empire and another seventy in the USSR, Georgia regained its independence in 1991. It is now a member of the United Nations, the WTO and the Council of Europe. Since 1991, Georgia has been struggling to build a new society, democratic governance and a market economy. It is a Presidential system. The current President - Misha Saakashvili - is a 36 year old US trained lawyer elected in January 2004 for a five-year term.

The Program

The January Term program was launched in 1996. Along with our US partners, Williams College and Wellesley College, we set up a student exchange with Tbilisi State University, the premier higher educational institution in Georgia. The program is designed for students of all backgrounds and disciplines. There is no language requirement.

The program consists of a three week trip to Georgia. Students stay with Georgian families in the capital of Tbilisi, a modern city of approximately one and half million people. Students spend two weeks in an internship of their choosing. The internship will be shaped to the student's interests. We have had students work in the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in hospitals, in art museums, and with NGOs working with refugees or training unemployed women to begin a business. In addition to the internship, students will attend three lectures on aspects of Georgian history and culture by local professors. There will be visits to the Georgian parliament to meet with MPs, and excursions outside the capital to historical and archeological sites. In the past, many of our students have enjoyed some spectacular skiing in the Caucasus mountains. The students will be accompanied to Georgia by a professor from one of the three US partner colleges and will be hosted in Tbilisi by our local representative, Zaal Kikodze, an archeologist and mountaineer. The January Term is a 2-credit course and students will be expected to write a report on their internship experience when they return to Mount Holyoke College.

The host city of Tbilisi was established over 1500 years ago and is one of the great architectural treasures of the Caucasus region. It sits along the river Mtkvari between spectacular mountain ranges. The city has all modern conveniences from ATMs and restaurants to jazz clubs and concert halls. Georgian food is a particular delight with multiple influences from the Middle East and Europe. Tbilisi is a safe city and transport is easy by subway and bus. There will nevertheless be proper security briefings for students.

Health services are not as reliable as in the USA and all students will be insured by MEDEX which in medical emergencies will evacuate students to good hospital facilities.

Travel Dates and Application

We will depart at the beginning of January, usually on the 5-6th, and return on the 25-26th (the exact dates are dependent on flights). We leave from JFK in New York City and fly through Vienna or Istanbul. The latter gives students an opportunity to explore Istanbul for the day. Up-to-date passports are the students responsibility. Visas from the Georgian Embassy in Washington D.C. will be required. To apply, students should obtain the Universal Application Form (UAF) from Career Development Center; also see more details on the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives Web site. You can receive detailed information about the program from Professor Stephen Jones; his extension is 2428. There will be two orientation meetings (times to be announced) for the program and you will be expected to make a commitment by November 1st.

Language

In Georgia, the main language is Georgian, a difficult language with its own alphabet. Russian is also spoken by the older generation. However, many young people in Georgia understand and speak English and your families and internships will be chosen to ensure that you have someone with whom you can communicate in English. However, if you are game, there will be opportunities to take classes in Georgian or Russian, a beginning that you might want to pursue when you return to the US.