Penn State Abington students are stretching their academic muscles, forging new friendships and professional connections, and exploring different cultures as part of a unique opportunity to study abroad during this week’s spring break.
The majority of the students are enrolled in courses with an international focus that require short-term travel that offers them the additional benefits of academic, professional and personal growth.
"It’s not every day that students are given the chance to be taught by two experts in a field of study while using its ‘holy grail’ as the classroom," said Jake Gavin, a junior history major.
Several of the students are veterans of Abington’s faculty-led courses with international travel. They have found the curriculum to be so valuable that they are participating a second time.
Four of the students who are traveling this week are in the final stages of preparing research projects for entry into the Abington College Undergraduate Research Activities (ACURA). ACURA is a yearlong hands-on research project under the supervision of faculty members. The students will present their results next month.
Community service distinguishes The Sandinista Revolution course from other Abington courses that require international travel as part of the curriculum. This week, the class is exploring the Central American country’s culture and history from the Sandinista Revolution in 1979 to the present through seminars and service learning with students and faculty from Universidad Catolica de Nicaragua.
Karen Halnon, associate professor of sociology, and Rosa Maria Chism, senior lecturer in Spanish, are co-moderating.
Two the students are fleshing out their ACURA project on media images of the Sandinista Revolution while they are in Nicaragua.
Two other groups of Abington students arrived in England last weekend, both studying society but through very different lenses. Lisa Morris, senior instructor of criminal justice, and the 10 students in her comparative criminal justice class are exploring contemporary social and justice system challenges, the global impact of criminality and the challenges of transnational crime.
Meanwhile, Brian Polk, senior lecturer of religious studies, and his students are going behind the scenes to study prehistoric monuments in the context of their landscape and their religious significance. Most visitors to Stonehenge must view the site from a distance, but Abington students have “all-access” passes to study the monuments closely along with Polk and an England-based expert in the field.
Two students are completing their ACURA projects on religion and Stonehenge while in England.
Abington student Jaclyn Wanat and associate professor of marketing Shruti Gupta are in Spain this week for the International Marketing Week student competition. The program simulates working in global teams to create a product and determine the marketing strategy for the product in a European Union market.
Last year, the competition drew 48 students from Spain, France, Finland, Denmark, Latvia, Germany, Holland and Belgium. Abington is the only American university with a student participating on a team.
Abington engineering, and information sciences and technology (IST) students are in the Eternal City of Rome exchanging ideas with their counterparts at Roma Tre University, and exploring robotics laboratories and businesses with facilities in Italy.
Accompanied by associate professor of engineering Robert Avanzato and senior IST lecturer Joe Oakes, the group is also visiting cultural sites related to robotics and engineering, such as an exhibit on Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci.
It only takes a single step to create change for a more positive world. Humbling thought, don’t you think? -- Stacey Braun, senior, psychology
According to Dolores Rafter Arevalo, coordinator of International Affairs at Abington, there has been an increase in the number of Abington students enrolling in faculty-led courses with international travel components.
“Only 1 percent of American students take advantage of opportunities to study outside of the country,” she said. “I want to acknowledge our faculty members who lead these courses because they are opening new doors for our students.”
Abington is committed to educating the next generation of global citizens and leaders by providing students with diverse opportunities to experience world cultures and by helping them develop a global perspective by understanding the challenges that all people share.
For more information on global programs at Abington, click here.
To follow three study abroad students' blogs, click here.