| by Jason Warburg

News Stories

Study away
Students went snorkeling in the Monterey Bay as one of many outings to explore the local area during Study Away semester at the Middlebury Institute.

As anyone who has studied abroad can attest, changing your location can unlock powerful learning experiences.

For Middlebury College student Finn Warner ’24.5 that new place was Monterey, California, where he spent the spring 2023 semester in the Study Away program.

“I am not sure I will ever have a learning experience akin to my experience in Monterey again during my academic career,” Warner wrote in the Middlebury Campus. “Learning in Monterey extends far past the walls of the classroom. I learned more about myself in this program than I ever have through any combination of essays, exams, and discussions.”


Hike at park
Participants hiked at Point Lobos State Park.

The environmental studies major, who participated in the California Coast and Climate Semester, described Monterey as “an amazing launchpad” and an experience that “will always hold a special place in my heart.”


I am not sure I will ever have a learning experience akin to my experience in Monterey again during my academic career. 
— Finn Warner ’24.5

Each Study Away program has a different focus and learning outcomes, with common goals that include the following:

  • Expanding learning beyond the classroom through experiential-based opportunities.
  • Developing practical skills for communicating the complexity of potential solutions around a set of issues.
  • Learning alongside graduate students and being able to “try out” graduate school.
  • Hearing from experts working across disciplines creating pathways to just and resilient solutions.
  • Fostering meaningful connections with the broader community through program excursions, events, project-based learning, and volunteering or service-learning opportunities.

Undergrads doing our CA Climate Semester made Monterey their classroom - above and below the waves

“I hope students will gain a deeper appreciation for the importance of their voice and perspectives, and gain the confidence to try out that voice in a supportive learning environment,” said Megan McKenna, Study Away program director. “By studying and immersing themselves in the diverse community of Monterey, students will gain new experiences and perspectives that they will carry with them in their future endeavors.”

Study Away student Mia Hines from Grinnell College also wrote about her experiences in Monterey, noting, “What I particularly love about being in Monterey… is that I am able to observe what I’m learning in the classroom firsthand.”

Hines worked at CoLab, which connects local organizations with Institute faculty and students, and completed a qualitative research project during the semester.

“I have seen students’ confidence grow as they navigate a different learning environment and participate in discussions,” said McKenna. “Students explore topics of interest on their terms, and I am always amazed with the creativity that comes from this type of learning.”

The Study Away at Monterey program is open to undergraduates across the country, offering several programs with different areas of focus: California coast and climate, global security, language education, and international studies. 

Research cruise
Students went on a research cruise on R/V Shearwater off Morro Bay, looking at marine mammal monitoring with acoustic instruments.