FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 22, 2011
MUW students enjoy study abroad experiences this summer
By Jill D. O’Bryant
COLUMBUS, Miss. -- Dozens of Mississippi University for Women students gained international experiences this summer through the university’s Study Abroad Program.
Dr. Michael Longton, associate professor of Spanish, took nine students to Alicante, Spain, for three weeks to enjoy the rich diversity of Spanish culture while studying immersion Spanish, and 21 students studied in Edinburgh for a month with Dr. Tom Richardson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of English, and Dr. Tom Velek, professor of history and director of the Honor’s College and Study Abroad.
The students on the Alicante trip, who earned six college credits, studied grammar and conversation at the University of Alicante. They stayed with local families to practice Spanish and learn about this city and its customs.
The experience also included a cultural focus presided over by Dr. Longton who guided the students on numerous excursions within the cities of Alicante and Valencia as well as to surrounding communities.
Some of the excursions in the Alicante area include the Santa Barbara Castle that served as a fortified palace for Moors and Christians throughout the Middle Ages; Explanada de Espana, a walkway lined by palm trees and paved with 6.5 million marble floor tiles; the Marq Museum and the Museum of the Bonfires.
In Elche, the students saw the largest palm grove in Europe and visited Villajoyosa, Spain’s largest chocolate factory. They also explored “Oceanografic” in Valencia, Europe’s largest aquarium which is shaped like a huge lily. A favorite of the students were the “spectacular” beaches, including Playa de San Juan.
Following the trip, the students were required to write reports about their experiences in Spanish to help solidify their newly gained knowledge.
“The study abroad trip to Spain was an eye-opening experience for me,” said Brandon Newsome, a graduating senior from Jackson. “It was refreshing to see all the cultures coming together at the university and in the city. Now that I’m back, I feel that I’m more internationally-inclined, more inclined to world-based.”
The students on the Edinburgh trip, who were mostly members of MUW’s Residence Honors Program who hold Centennial and Honors scholarships, earned four credit hours.
The Residence Honors Program includes two years of living in the Honors dorm, taking a series of courses together during their freshmen and sophomore years and then taking an overseas trip. Since space permitted, a few additional students made the trip to Edinburgh, including two senior mentors.
“This program (Residence Honors Program) does a couple of things,” Dr. Velek said. “We want our students to have international experience and be able to work in a major research institution. We also know this type of program is a great tool for the university to recruit top students because it is such a unique experience.”
Drs. Richardson and Velek used classroom space downtown to teach the courses, and the group enjoyed side trips to Glasgow, the Highlands, a distillery and a hike in Pentland Hills.
The students also were required to do research projects using places such as the National Library of Scotland.
Stefani Sloma, a senior mentor from Brandon, used the trip to work on her senior honors project, titled “The City as Character: Edinburgh in the Works of Ian Rankin.” She is focusing on Rankin’s Inspector Rebus series, which is a crime fiction series based in Edinburgh.
A highlight of her trip was interviewing Rankin in person.
“It was wonderful,” she said. “He was humble, funny and very interesting, not to mention he has a very pretty accent. I was able to learn a lot, and he gave me a few new ideas and directions in which to go.”
The Residential Honors Program study abroad trip for Summer 2012 will be in Belgium with Dr. Kendall Dunkelberg, professor of English, and Dr. Brian Anderson, chair of the Department of History, Political Science and Geography and Professor of Political Science.
For more information about MUW’s Study Abroad Program, please visit www.muw.edu/studyabroad or email Velek at email@example.com.