Several Hartwick College students from the local area extended their studies from Oneonta to Costa Rica, England, Madagascar or South Africa during the college's January term.

"J-Term" -- sandwiched between the fall and spring semesters -- gives students a chance to immerse themselves in a particular course or field of study and often involves new approaches to teaching, according to Hartwick College.

Studying abroad is also a key component of J-Term, and this year more than 200 students went to 12 countries. Several more studied in Arizona, Vermont and New York City, as well as locally. The J-Term session at Hartwick began Jan. 9 and ended last week. The spring semester begins Monday.

Local Hartwick College students who studied abroad include Liam Heiland of Milford, who went to Costa Rica for a class titled Natural History of Costa Rica. Katelynn Collins-Hall of Oneonta and Cassandra Howe of South Kortright went to England, where they participated in the course Shakespeare's England.

Megan Hotaling and Elizabeth Kelly of Oneonta went to Madagascar for Culture, Conservation & History. Jamie Ewain, Ashley Mills and Holley Reynolds, all of Walton, went to South Africa for a course titled Riches of South Africa.

Kelly said Wednesday her time in Madagascar was an enlightening experience.

"It was my first time to a Third World country," she said.

Kelly, the daughter of Hartwick President Margaret Drugovich, said the villagers she met were happy despite living conditions far below western standards.

Her course was taught by Allen Crooker and the focus was mainly on the biology of Madagascar, which has a distinctive ecology. But Kelly said there were also opportunities to learn about the culture of the people and conservation in the country, where deforestation is a major problem.

J-Term is a great opportunity, she said, because it allows for a study-abroad experience without committing to an entire semester.

"It would not have been easy for me to spend a whole semester," Kelly said.

But J-Term isn't just about spending time abroad.

Nursing professor Peggy Jenkins taught a J-Term course at the college, and a component of that was having students work to publicize Habitat for Humanity. Her class painted the Hartwick College wall and designed posters and brochures, which were distributed to Walmart, area coin-operated laundry businesses and low-income housing, according to a media release from the college.

Public service announcements created by the students will also be aired on local radio stations WSRK and WDLA.

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