By Emme Schaefer
Abroads are an attractive aspect of Principia. There are a variety of options offered, they are easy to learn about, and there are many choices when it comes to an off-campus, international study experience. But what, exactly, makes summer abroads stand out from the rest? Traveling outside of the semester allows students the opportunity to leave the country without missing a day of classes.
Sophomore Katie Wood thoroughly enjoyed her six-week experience in the Lake District in England. Although she had been outside of the country before, she felt like this trip really gave her the chance to be immersed in another culture. There were a few major cultural differences between the U.S. and England that Wood noticed in particular.
“In the Lake District…everyone operates on a slower time,” said Wood. “When you walk into a shop, you don’t just walk into a shop, find what you want, check out and leave. You walk into the shop and build a conversation with the person who owns the shop and continue to talk while paying. You create more of a relationship with the person that you’re buying something from as opposed to giving them your money and leaving.”
Even though the group had homework over the summer and were still technically in school, Wood found this abroad to be an enriching, educational experience: “I think one thing that I’ll take with me is the concept of slowing down and not getting from one thing to another, but enjoying the little things and making connections with people.”
Taking advantage of the opportunity to go on an abroad that would not interfere with his schedule (and would allow him to explore the field of outdoor education) is what convinced senior Sammy Keyes to spend the start of his summer in Iceland.
“I’m a physics major so I couldn’t do an abroad during the semester because there are classes that I am supposed to be taking, so a break abroad was really the only option,” Keyes explained.
Aside from the gorgeous landscape that he had seen in photos and the fact that the abroad would be led by Lauren Hinchman, professor of Educational Studies, about whom he had heard good things, Keyes was drawn to a concept that not many college students would initially find appealing: being off-the-grid.
“We did not have phones on the abroad, which I really liked the idea of,” said Keyes. “This was inspired by Lauren’s dissertation on technology and how that affects abroads, and so just finding that…if you have your phone with you, you don’t get as much out of the experience and you can’t immerse yourself as much in the culture.”
This abroad provided Keyes with the perfect outlet to experience healing in an environment other than that of Principia’s campus.
“The biggest lesson that I learned on the trip had to do with Christian Science,” Keyes shared. “I was dealing with a situation that was not connected to the abroad that was really frustrating. With support from friends, I had the realization to say ‘no’ when this challenge came up. That idea, along with prayer, were what broke the mesmerism for me.”
Summer abroads give students the chance to step outside of their comfort zones and explore topics which don’t necessarily pertain to their majors. Senior Glynnis Harley stated, “I was accepted into the England abroad and the Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia abroad. While both trips offered incredible opportunities, I chose Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia because I was unfamiliar with these three countries and was interested to learn more about them. Additionally, as a Math and Education major, I haven’t taken very many literature- and culture-focused classes at the college, and this abroad focused on those areas.”
Extending her education outside of what she was familiar with helped Harley gain a new perspective. When asked why she chose a summer rather than semester abroad, Harley said that the time frame was a major influence.
“Summer abroads are unique because since the time in [the] country is so limited, it encourages the members of the abroad to really learn to work together and form a sense of community in a short period of time,” she said.
In this short period of time, Harley was able to observe major differences between life in the U.S. and Slovenia. “We talked a lot about cultural differences throughout the abroad,” Harley said. “One major difference that I noticed was that the way the U.S. portrays and discusses the topic of war is drastically different than the way Slovenia discusses war. Slovenia focuses more on the raw emotions and hardships that everyone faced during the Ten-Day War and does not highlight the fighting. The U.S., on the other hand, glorifies war and underscores the fighting rather than the emotion.”
Immersing herself in a different culture brought her attention to other differences. “I noticed…the concept of urgency in regard to time,” Harley said. “In Slovenia, the people seem to be more relaxed about time in general and are not as rushed and rigid as Americans are.”
Talk to the Abroad Office to find out more about upcoming abroads and application due dates.