Take a Leave of Absence

In July, my internship in Mumbai wrapped up and I spent the next three and a half months touring India. By mid November, I was in Nepal. For Christmas, I joined my family in Peru, followed by a trek through Argentina, Chile, and Ecuador. At the time of writing, I am staying over in Olin while my visa for China processes, and by publishing time I’ll be in Shanghai to live, work and learn Mandarin.

Olin allows–no, encourages–its students to take time away from school. Your scholarship is valid for eight semesters in five years. That’s an implicit invitation that many students ignore, but that is a mistake. Taking a leave of absence makes you a better, more rounded person, makes you appreciate what you have here at Olin, and opens your eyes to a world of new experiences.

I can hardly put into words how my LOA has changed me. It doesn’t translate well on paper, but come find me when I’m back on campus in the fall. I can’t wait to talk to you about my adventures and lessons, the people I met, and the person my year abroad has helped me become.

This is the only time in your lives that you can take risks with hardly any repercussions. No matter what happens, you can come back to Olin next semester.
So take your time away. Start a business. Challenge yourself to learn to live in a new environment. Figure out what you want to do with your life, up to and after graduation. You’ll grow as a person and learn many lessons you can’t find in school, all for far less than the cost of a semester of tuition, room and board at Olin.

I didn’t take an LOA because I was sick of Olin–I wasn’t. But now, ten months later, I realize that my time away has made me love Olin even more. You probably don’t expect to miss the stress of racing through assignments against the sunrise… As they say, you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.

Now, taking an LOA is not unreservedly good. There are a few less savory elements that you should know about. If you take a fall semester off, you miss meeting the new freshmen. If you LOA during the spring you miss graduation. If you do both, like I have, you’ll get to play a game called: “sophomore, freshman, or Babby?”
Next, it’s going to be hard. you what the problem is, and you have resources available to help you solve it. The problems you face during your LOA will vary greatly, but one thing is true: nobody is going to hold your hand like the Olin community does.

I’ve spent nights riding luggage racks and still been the most comfortable person on the train, witnessed a head-on motorcycle collision because my Belgian friend didn’t remember to drive on the left side of the road. I’ve been picked out by international gem smugglers, but had the wherewithal to reject their advances. And I wouldn’t trade any of it away, except the chance to do more.

If you are able to go, I strongly urge you to take a leave of absence. The LOA form can be found on the StAR website and is only due around registration – but make your plans and book your tickets soon!

I look forward to hearing about all of your adventures.

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