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Study Abroad Sans the Glamour: Soldiers Take Classes in Iraq


Study Abroad in Iraq? The headline jumped out of the Daily Beast, and I knew I had a story. Until, that is, I read it and learned the average American student cannot register for a semester in Baghdad the way they can in Strasbourg. But mon Dieu!, someday soon they will.

As for now, only US service members can sign up. Courses like child psychology, American government, and cultural anthropology are offered in makeshift classrooms, ranging from tents to conference rooms once reserved for Saddam Hussein.

Last November, the University of Maryland began offering these classes, as it's been doing for over 50 years on military bases in Asia and Europe. Students, who juggle six to seven 12-hour work days per week, usually only take one course at a time, but can earn two- and four-year degrees along with masters.

The fact that classes are being offered indicates Iraq's increasing stability and new sense of normalcy. It allows students to leave the rigidness of military life, if only for an hour, to be called by their first names and discuss ideas openly.

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