CAPS 4001 Travel Journals: Learning Beyond the Classroom

Leaves of Absence

If you need to step away from your graduate training for a period of time, you may decide to take a leave of absence. Leaves may be requested for health, parental, or personal reasons. A leave pauses your student status, with the opportunity to return to your program at a set time. Because you do not have student status during a semester on leave, you do not have access to Cornell University resources (such as the library, gym, etc.)

Health Leave of Absence

A Health Leave of Absence (HLOA) is designed to provide students with a break from their studies to attend to treatment or management of a health condition. Any Cornell student can request to take an HLOA. The University’s goal is to enable students to address their health needs and return to complete their academic program. International students who take a health leave of absence may be able to remain in the US to seek treatment and maintain their student visa status, but this needs to be worked out on an individual basis.

  • The Health Leaves Coordinator provides case management support and serves as a point of contact throughout the leave and return processes.
  • There is no minimum duration for health leaves. The duration of the HLOA will depend upon the time the student needs for treatment and/or recovery and the resolution of academic conditions determined by the student’s college. The maximum duration is four years.
  • Most tuition insurance policies will only provide reimbursement if a student needs to take a leave for medical reasons.


If you are considering a HLOA, please consider speaking with the Office of Graduate Student Life for help in understanding the range of details involved in applying for an being approved for this leave. The following forms can will assist with requesting, and returning from, a HLOA:


Parental Accommodation

Maternity and paternity accommodations, although not technically a leave, offers six weeks of paid accommodation (eight weeks for the birth mother for a cesarean section delivery) OR up to two semesters of reduced load status depending on your circumstances. To initiate the parental accommodation, complete and return the Parental Accommodation Request form.

Personal Leave of Absence

A student may opt to take a leave of absence for personal reasons that are neither health related nor fit the criteria of a parental accommodation. Personal leaves are managed by the College of Arts and Sciences. They are typically available to student for up to 12 months and renewable for a maximum of four years.

Victoria Liu: Observations of Taoism and Chinese Consumerism

Items for sale within a Taoist temple
"Not only is Taoism politicized as a symbol of Chinese culture, but it has also been commercialized. Aside from the more traditional means of fortune-telling and blessing, Qingcheng Mountain has also expanded its service to an immersive experience of Taoism, allowing tourists to spend a night or so in Shangqing Palace. You do not to be a pious believer to experience the daily lives of Taoist priests (道⼠). Region is run as a business here."

Click here to read more about Victoria Liu's Fall 2019 trip to Chengdu.


Kate Selley: An Observation of China's Rebound

People standing next to a large anchor
"Our trip to Tianjin and Binhai showed us two different chapters of Chinese history, allowing our group to gain a better understanding of the domestic narrative of Chinese history. The first day, we traveled to the Tianjin History Museum and several concessions previously held by Western powers and Japan. On the second day, we visited a handful of highly successful Chinese companies who had recently gained a global market. Seeing these two sides of China, the past and the present, fit together in my mental image of China’s history and development. Our first day in Tianjin represented a snapshot into the century of humiliation, and the trip to Binhai showed China’s astonishing rebound."

Click here to read more about Kate Selley's Spring 2019 trip to Tianjin and Binhai.


Kathy Wang: Empathetic Connections to China

A woman looking down a wall
"The show was absolutely amazing. I told my friend that Broadway shows pale in comparison to what I just watched. The intricate costumes, the seamless transitions, the pure emotion. It all lined up so flawlessly; I was left stunned. I told Erika that even had I not understood a single word of the show, the pure aesthetics and theatrics would have more than made up for it. There are so many things I want to talk about regarding the show, but I'm only going to talk thoughts on Buddhism. Throughout the course of the show, as well as through talking to our tour guide, I realized my personal thoughts in the past few months have been incredibly similar to those of Buddhist thought."

Click here to read more about Kathy Wang's Fall 2017 trip to Gansu.


Joseph Evans: Exploring the Silk Road Today

Man standing next to a display of Chinese staffs
"From the position of other tower site in relation to Yu Men in order to fire signals, to the very construction of the site, I found the simply military presence of the [Yumen Guan] to be interesting...It was during my self lead tour that I found that the silk road, a title that I always found too western in creation, was the term of Dutch origin from an explorer and historian that came to China at the turn of the 20th century."

Click here to read more about Joseph Evans' Fall 2017 trip to Gansu.


Wendy Chen: Camels, Caves, and Theater Without a Stage

A woman riding a camel
"Walking in the sand was incredibly tiring, each step was extremely taxing on the body, but it was so worth it.  The eight of us got into sledding tubes that were linked to each other and down we go. I cheered as the adrenaline pumped through me, as the wind whipped my hair back, as the small individual grains of sand pelted my face and lodged itself into every single exposed surface of my body and clothes. Still, it was an amazing ride that was much too short for my (and some other people's) liking, inciting cheers of 'one more time!' and 'let's do it again!' as we got off our tubes and tried to shake the sand off of us to no avail."

Click here to read more about Wendy Chen's Fall 2017 trip to Gansu.