Prachi Saxena will celebrate her much-awaited 18th birthday on board a flight to California, USA, on May 19.
Saxena, a second year arts student from St Xavier's College, is one of the ten students heading to the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), as part of a six-week summer school programme. "It took my dad and me two days to choose my subjects for specialisation," said Saxena, who got her passport in January and her visa last month. Saxena has zeroed in on 'social psychology' and 'introduction to practical reasoning and critical analysis of an argument'.
This year, more than 200 undergraduates across city colleges will spend their vacations studying as part of the summer school programmes at universities in California, New Jersey and Georgia, among others.
"This is a great opportunity for me to go beyond my curriculum," said Nikita Munshi, 20, a commerce student of HR College, who will be making a presentation on 'Bollywood and Marketing' at the Stern Institute in New York. "We have an interesting itinerary charted out with visits to different community districts, tourist landmarks and cultural shows," she added.
The summer school programme costs upwards of Rs2.5 lakh and scholarships are offered to a handful of deserving students. "My parents want me to attend the summer school even the next year," said Mugdha Pande, 19, who will pay for studying 'Marketing and Political Economy' at UCB this year.
College principals also feel that this academic-cultural exchange is beneficial to students. "International exposure, specialised subject preferences, and a new cultural atmosphere are just a few advantages of attending summer schools," said Manju Nichani, principal of KC College. The college sends two students to UCB every year.
Sandip Patil, 25, who works as an office attendant in St Xavier's College in the mornings and attends commerce lectures in the evening, went to the Stern Institute last year. "I barely knew anything about computers and only spoke broken English when I went there," said Patil, adding that he now helps his fellow classmates in making Power Point presentations and assignments.