Students at O’Neill IUPUI can travel to Berlin, Scotland, and the Cayman Islands. Scholarship opportunities are available to help cover portions of the program and students’ airfare. Visit this link to apply for O’Neill International’s study abroad programs.
Program cost: $700 (does not include airfare)
Students traveling to Berlin will focus their studies on Metropolitan Development. They’ll study the policy approaches that helped transform the city and Germany itself into a modern economic powerhouse, turning Berlin into the entrepreneurial and innovative hot spot in Europe.
Program cost: $900 (does not include airfare)
O’Neill’s course in Scotland will explore cultural management and heritage preservation. Students will be based in Edinburgh but travel to Glasgow and the Highlands during their trip. The goal is to provide students with a critical appreciation for major cultural institutions that focus on the visual and performing arts, historic preservation/public history, material culture, and international arts and cultural policy.
Class dates: Weekly for the first nine weeks of the spring semester | Program cost: $1,500-$1,600 (does not include airfare or snorkel gear)
Students who travel to the Cayman Island will study coral reef restoration and conservation. The first eight weeks of the spring semester are spent developing a project focus. Once students depart for the trip, they spend much of their time underwater, learning about coral reefs, ocean life, and conducting research on distinct and diverse ecosystems found only in the Caribbean.
“When it comes to climate change, people think about our ozone layer, the atmosphere, greenhouse gases—and that’s all important,” explains O’Neil Sustainability major Preston Cloud.
But he says people don’t often think about coral reefs or how many ocean species are going extinct.
“If the coral reefs die, our oceans die,” Cloud says, who attended the trip to the spring 2023 trip to the Cayman Islands.
“I want to be a Marine conservationist and coral reef restorationist,” he says. “This was my ‘Do-or-die’ trip. If I hated it, I would know I shouldn’t be in marine conservation. But if I loved it, it would show me this was the right career for me. This trip was definitely my wake-up call.”
The trip woke him up to how passionate he was about marine conservation and solidified his career path. He says he’s now more focused on narrowing his areas of interest in the field.
During the first nine weeks of the spring semester, he used his weekly classes here in Indiana to decide on a focus area for his trip. He landed on coral reef disease, specifically a disease known as Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD), nicknamed skittle-D.
Cloud didn’t realize it at the time, but that project would create a long-lasting impact on the Caymans. The class partners with the Central Caribbean Marine Institute, based in Little Cayman, for their research. During the trip, Cloud learned how to use GIS from graduate students, and helped map sea fans in Grape Tree Bay by pinpointing their locations and their health condition.
“Now, every year, the Institute will be able to go out and check sea fans data,” he says proudly. “They’ll be able to tell whether the health of those sea fans is improving or if disease is spreading. Our work will live on through the years and help them manage coral reef health in their area.”
That’s just one aspect of the trip that makes this opportunity one of the most unique programs O’Neill International offers. Cloud says their on-site exam was unlike anything he’d experienced before.
Before they arrived on the island, he and his classmates had to memorize 60–70 fish species and 25–30 coral bodies, to help them better understand the world they were diving into.
“When we arrived, we’d swim around the reef, and our professor would point out a fish,” Cloud recalls. “We had a board and marker that allowed us to write underwater, so we would write the fish name or the coral.”
Growing up in Indiana, Cloud says he was always fascinated by the ocean.
“It was something we didn’t have access to, so I was very curious about it,” he recalls.
He admits he was nervous about being out in the ocean and being in such deep water because he had never experienced it before. In fact, this was the first time he or anyone in his family had left the country.
And while he was a bit apprehensive about conditions, he says he was most nervous about being cognizant of local customs and cultural standards. But he also worried about being on a remote island and the logistics of traveling, like layovers and luggage.
But he stresses that these are all concerns that can be easily overcome during the planning process—and he offers up advice for students considering making the leap.
“Fly a reputable airline and look for a longer layover when you’re booking your flights,” he says. “Knowing the lay of the land throughout your trip—whether at the airport or on the island—will help you tremendously.”
Cloud also advises other students to plan personal time as part of their trip.
“Stay an extra day, do the excursions, really experience what it’s like to be in another country,” he says. “You may never get that opportunity again so make the most of it beyond your course experience.”