Students Explore New Cultures with UMW’s Summer Trips

Carol Quinn has been back in the United States for less than a week and she is already thinking of her next trip to Europe.

The University of Mary Washington senior was one of nine students who visited London, Amsterdam, Wurzburg, Munich and Vienna with the Psychology in Europe study abroad trip. The students, led by Associate Professor of Psychology Dave Kolar, spent two weeks at historical and cultural sites relevant to the study of psychology.

Students in the 2012 Psychology in Europe program visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.

“The trip inspired me to return and do some of my own traveling in Europe,” Quinn, a psychology and sociology major, said. “I’m eager to go back. I wasn’t ready to leave at all!”

This summer, more than 100 students are studying abroad, either as part of UMW faculty-led trips, or through programs at other universities or organizations. Members of the UMW field hockey team recently traveled to Italy with Coach Lindsay Elliot to train and compete on an international scale.

Some trips have become UMW staples, like “European Capitals – London, Paris, Berlin, Prague and Vienna,” now in its 20th year, “Spain for All,” celebrating its 10th anniversary and “Psychology in Europe,” in its fifth year.

Denis Nissim-Sabat, professor of psychology, developed the Psychology in Europe trip to expose students to the history of psychology they learn about during the year.

“History comes alive for them,” he said, noting the students’ opportunities to visit sites from a Holocaust concentration camp to Sigmund Freud’s house.

A group of students during the 2011 “Spain for All” trip.

For Jose Sainz, director of the Center for International Education and associate professor of Spanish, the Spain for All program’s success is due to its emphasis on academic, cultural and personal experiences and its ability to adapt to students’ needs. Although the program started 10 years ago solely with Spanish courses, now it offers courses across disciplines, as well as service learning opportunities and internships.

“After a decade leading students, we still get messages on Facebook and emails from students who are now long gone from campus indicating that attending the program was one of the highlights of their time at UMW,” Sainz, leader of the trip, said.

Sainz and Associate Professor of Spanish Marisa Martinez-Mira will take 34 students to Spain this summer, from June 24 through July 27.

For two decades, the European Capitals program has been going strong. This year’s group of 16 students, led by Jack Kramer, distinguished professor of political science, and Porter Blakemore, associate professor of history, will return on Friday, June 8 after four weeks of travel.

The European Capitals trip makes a stop at British Parliament in London.

According to the political science department’s newsletter, the trip includes a briefing with a member of the British Parliament, a private tour of the Palace of Westminster, a tour of Versailles, a concert of classical music provided by the Imperial Orchestra in Vienna and a briefing at the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin.

According to Kate Jordan, study abroad program assistant in the Center for International Education, summer study abroad programs like Spain for All and European Capitals are appealing for students because they require less time commitment than a semester-long or full-year program, while offering unique coursework.

“Not only do short term faculty-led study abroad programs give students flexibility in their course choices, but they have the opportunity to have an amazing intercultural experience at the same time,” she said. “Summer study abroad is also less expensive than many semester abroad programs, making it more attractive for some students.  In today’s increasingly competitive job market, students with international experience definitely have an edge.”

About Brynn Boyer

Brynn Boyer is assistant director of media and public relations and a 2010 graduate of UMW.