Exchange student program comes back to Grinnell after 10 years


Owen Barbato

Jonathon Kellogg, pictured above, is one of the new exchange students at Grinnell College.

Jandry Perez Garcia, Staff Writer

For the first time since 2012, Grinnell College has welcomed two foreign exchange students. As part of a new partnership between the College and the Leiden University College (LUC), the students, Jonathan Kellogg and Neele Ebertz, flew in from the Hague in the Netherlands to experience college in the U.S. 

Grinnell first launched the partnership in 2017 when they signed a Memorandum of Understanding, in which they agreed to explore potential collaborations between the two institutions, said Director of Off-Campus Study Alicia Stanleyin in an email to the S&B.

In 2018, Stanley said, both institutions agreed to allow Grinnell students the opportunity to be able to spend a semester abroad at LUC. She also said that in 2019 the agreement was expanded, allowing LUC students to come to Grinnell for a semester; however, the pandemic delayed their arrival. 

The director of International Student Affairs, Karen Edwards, said that prior to the current program with LUC, Grinnell had foreign exchange student programs with Waseda University in Japan, and through the ACM program in Costa Rica. 

In an email, Edwards told the S&B that the program with the university in Costa Rica terminated with the end of their contract. However, when Grinnell tightened its foreign language requirements, students from Waseda University found it more difficult to join the exchange program. With a lack of students, the program was forced to retire. 

Now, Kellogg and Ebert are happy to be a part of the newly revamped exchange student program. 

Kellogg said the name of his major is difficult to translate, but in essence it is a combination of Economics and Political Science; the major focuses on studying how institutions affect the economy.

At Grinnell, Kellogg will take macroeconomics, data science, environmental economics and classical mythology, wanting to take more math-based economics. At LUC, economic classes tend to be more theoretical.

Kellogg decided to come to Grinnell for the U.S. college experience. He chose to come here for only one semester, though, because he felt that studying abroad for his entire college career would be a very big step — one that was made more difficult by the pandemic. 

Ebertz, on the other hand, had already spent a year in the U.S. in high school. Since she enjoyed the experience, she wanted to do it again. Ebertz is a culture, history and society major which she described as being the combination of social sciences and humanities. She said she is taking Intro to Art History, Intro to Material Culture Studies, Theory & Methods in GWSS and Sociology of Gender.

Both Ebertz and Kellogg like Grinnell’s facilities, particularly the two different libraries on campus and the convenience of eating in the Dining Hall.

Kellogg and Ebertz were placed in the International Pre-Orientation Program (IPOP) when they arrived at Grinnell. Even though they are not first-year students, Edwards said the program would help them form connections. Both exchange students said they felt like they benefited from the program and found Grinnell people to be very nice, approachable and friendly. 

“You meet everyone else from different groups and it’s people that just traveled hundreds if not thousands of miles, and they’re just dropped in the middle of nowhere. And they’re all looking to socialize,” said Kellogg. “You talk to them and have interesting stories.”

Ebertz said that she would like to have conversations with people she does not know very well when she gets back home, as she has been doing at Grinnell. But while she is here, she is looking forward to Halloween to see all the decorations in stores, as that is a holiday not typically celebrated in Europe.

However, Ebertz said she is feeling homesick because fall is her favorite season, and she would like to spend it with her family. She said she gets through it by talking and sharing with her Grinnell friends about her home in Germany.

Kellogg said he is shocked there is no public transportation. He also said he is simultaneously homesick and not homesick. On the one hand, he will be happy to go back home when the time comes, but he is enjoying his time at Grinnell and feels excited to be here. Kellogg recommended that other students travel abroad.

“It’s [study abroad] worth it. It’s just like, it’s something entirely different. If you’re considering it, I would say no matter where you go, do it. It’s very fun. It’s really fun,” said Kellogg.