Pictures from University of Mary Washington summer study abroad programs say a thousand words, but in honor of this weekend’s Education Abroad Fair we asked students to use just one word to sum up their recent overseas experiences.
“Enriching,” senior Julia May said of her time in Bilbao, Spain, where she took a food culture class, toured one of the country’s oldest wineries and visited a Spanish civil war museum devoted to the theme of peace.
Launched in 2002, UMW in Spain is one of Mary Washington’s three longest-running faculty-led study abroad programs – including UMW in France and UMW in Paris – all back this summer, after the pandemic put them on pause for two years. UMW students can learn about upcoming opportunities to study, research, intern or volunteer overseas at the fair, presented by the Center for International Education. It takes place Saturday, Oct. 1, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the University Center’s Chandler Ballroom.
The most recent study-abroad adventurers shared their thoughts, summing up the sights and tastes, people and traditions, landmarks and languages in just a few syllables.
“They are definitely taking learning beyond the classroom,” said Professor of Spanish and Center for International Education Director Jose Sainz. “You can read all about the running of the bulls, or you can witness it firsthand.”
Led by Sainz and joined by Associate Professor of Spanish María-Isabel Martínez-Mira, the five-week UMW in Spain program gives students an opportunity to take courses at Universidad de Deusto, visit Spanish cities and attend cultural events.
“Connection” is the word junior philosophy and Spanish double-major Norah Walsh chose to describe the experience, where she made new friends, studied the political history of Spain and ate pintxos in the coastal city of San Sebastian.
UMW in France has been sharing the southern region of the European country with UMW students since 2012. Led by Professor of French Brooke DiLauro, the offering has participants studying at the Institute for American Universities in Aix-en-Provence, exploring the home and studio of post-impressionist painter Cézanne and sampling sweets at French patisseries.
“Amazing,” senior Celide Verna said of the trip – her first time traveling abroad – where she explored historic architecture, visited perfume factories and dined oceanside.
“Authentic” is how senior studio art major Olivia Breda described the experience. “Everything went from being a far-off photo or dream to being completely real,” she said. “It was everything I had hoped it to be and more.”
UMW in Paris, offered since 2014, lets students take courses through the MICEFA consortium of French universities, tour the city’s parks and green spaces and visit world-famous sites like the Eiffel Tower and L’Arc de Triomphe. The trip is led by Paris native Professor Andi Smith, who teaches travelers in English about historic preservation.
“Immersive,” senior history and historic preservation major Sarah Sklar said of the excursion, which gave her plenty of practice speaking the language she’s studied for years. “I was honestly amazed at how much my French improved within a month; being in Paris showed me how different language learning is when you’re immersed culturally as well.”
For junior historic preservation major Rachel Richardson, the trip – her first outside the U.S. – provided a chance to explore such architectural aspects as Sainte-Chapelle, the Louvre, Château de Fontainebleau and the Catacombes.
Her word for the summer study-abroad experience: “Unforgettable.”