Faculty-led study abroad trips to hit Costa Rica, Europe, China
November 16, 2009 —
Picture sitting in London for a Shakespearean play, or awaking to the sunrise atop the Great Wall of China.
These are the joys SVSU students can have when attending faculty-led study abroad trips.
Now with 12 programs, five more than last year, students have many courses and lifechanging traveling experiences to choose from.
“Instead of showing them a picture in class,” said Dr. Evelyn Ravuri, a leader of the summer Costa Rica program, “we get to actually experience it.”
On her trip, she and fellow professor of geography Dr. Martin Arford guide the students all around Costa Rica. They explore the different environments, including the tropical rainforest.
Students will break free from PowerPoint lectures and dive into the very environment they’re studying. They take notes at such locations as the base of a volcano, a spot near colonial architecture or the sands of a Costa Rican beach.
There are other trips that involve similar experiences.
“It is a great joy to open students’ eyes to things,” said Robert Braddock, history professor and leader of an early summer London trip. The England trip was designed for more than just history students.
During Braddock’s program, students attend classes throughout the week and then spend the weekends traveling on excursions to places such as Dover, Oxford and France.
They attend events that show the wonders of United Kingdom culture, including plays at the Shakespearean Globe Theatre and a speech from a Parliament member. Some even leave the country to visit the Eiffel Tower.
“It was incredible to see it actually there, rather than in a book,” said secondary education senior Ryan Freehling about his trip with Braddock to London this summer. “My favorite thing was getting to experience a different culture.”
Brian Thomas, assistant professor of sociology, is planning his first trip as a study abroad leader.
“This is an opportunity for experiential learning outside the classroom,” said Thomas, who will lead a group of students on a trip to China in May.
Thomas designed his trip to be different from other programs: on weekends, students will travel in individual groups.
The excursions will supply groups with all the materials a Chinese traveler needs, and the learning experience will include a contest to drive their travels.
Students will be given note cards with simple Chinese phrases to bargain with a kiosk owner in the streets of Beijing. Prizes will be given to the winners of each activity.
Thomas will give lectures throughout the trip. These will reflect the culture around them, he said, and show students the differences between U.S. and Chinese cultures.
The whole group will also explore a village to see its natives’ way of life and how it differs from the Chinese city lifestyle.
To finish the trip, the students will pack sleeping bags and spend the night on the Great Wall of China, waking up to see the sun rise over an ancient landscape.
Along with all the experiences students have while studying abroad, the faculty-led programs are also designed to not break the bank. With prices ranging from $2,500 to $5,400.
In addition, many scholarships are available.