Every summer, students from the College of Charleston travel to a diverse array of destinations around the globe to study abroad. This summer alone, some 500 CofC students are taking courses in over 60 different countries, and their professors are making the most of these unique settings to offer impactful lessons.
Among the courses offered this summer by CofC faculty are opportunities to study marine biology in Panama and Costa Rica, religious studies in India, and hospitality and tourism management in Italy. Here’s a look at six study abroad courses being taught this summer from the perspective of the students taking them:
Emerging from Violence: The Political and Psychological Consequences of Conflict and Trauma
This course, taught by professors Jen Wright (from the Department of Psychology) and Chris Day (from the Department of Political Science) took place in Rwanda and Uganda over the course of nearly 45 days.
Student: Rising junior Max Bisaha, a political science major, with minors in environmental and sustainability studies and philosophy.
Highlight: “My two professors were the real highlight of this trip. If you’re doing college right, having two highly qualified professors at your disposal to cater to your curiosities is incredibly valuable. Not to mention the fact that they are both people I enjoy just hanging out with. And the two countries we’ve been to – Rwanda and Uganda – have come alive for me through being on the tour bus and talking with our local guides-turned-friends. Learning about the Rwandan genocide through books and firsthand accounts and discussing many of the complexities of that era have been extremely memorable. In Uganda, visiting Murchison Falls National Park and seeing the beautiful landscapes and animals was unforgettable.”
Italian Arts Education
This course, which is taught by professor Tracey Hunter-Doniger from the Department of Teacher Education (and is jointly administered with Clemson University and the University of South Carolina), offers education majors the opportunity to experience the Reggio Emilia approach to education firsthand. The students in this class visited five different Reggio-Emilia-style schools in Northern Italy and explored Italian culture and art with day trips to Venice, Florence and Modena.
Student: Rising sophomore Peyton Lowenthal, an early childhood education major.
Highlight: “This trip was by far one of the best experiences of my life. I observed students learning in a foreign environment and was able to compare those teaching methods to the ones I know from the U.S. I feel that I deepened my knowledge by having hands-on experiences in the classroom. Among those was the opportunity to teach a class of fifth graders about American culture and share my own educational experiences. The most memorable part was saying goodbye to my fifth-grade students. That was so much harder than I expected. We really formed a close bond despite the short time I was with them. I also really enjoyed living with a host family. That helped me understand the Italian lifestyle. That family could not have been sweeter. And prior to this trip, I hadn’t considered teaching elementary age students, only preschool, but working with those fifth graders really opened up more possibilities for me.”
CofC in Jamaica
In this course, taught by African American studies professor Roneka Matheny, students traveled to Montego Bay, Jamaica, for a week to learn about the island nation’s colonial history, its Black Nationalist roots, its major economic exports and the efforts underway to preserve the history of Reggae music.
Student: Rising junior Akayla Sellers, a public health major and political science minor.
Highlight: “I’m a Charleston native and one of many who are connected with the Caribbean without truly knowing our roots due to the history of slavery. This course in Jamaica attempts to connect that history of people of color through a beacon we all know very well – music. And for me, the highlight of the trip was visiting the Indigenous Rastafari Village. Jamaica is predominantly black, however, the citizens there suffer from the remnants of slavery through colorism. In that village, the indigenous people had all of the students from the College join their ensemble. We sat together, different colors, ethnicities and cultures, but we learned that there in the Rasta village in Jamaica, different rhythms mean nothing. The power comes when these rhythms come together and make harmony.”
Marketing and International Business in China
Taught by professor Henry Xie from the Department of Management and Marketing, this course examines the significant cultural, political and economic environments in China. Students learn about the opportunities and challenges of doing business in China for U.S. firms. They also visit major cities such as Beijing, Chengdu and Hong Kong, spend time at corporate headquarters for LinkedIn and other major companies, and tour historic sites such as the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City and the world-renowned Panda Research Base in Chengdu.
Student: Rising senior Mariah Shield, a marketing major with a minor in hospitality and tourism management.
Highlight: “This course offered us the unique opportunity to learn not only from lectures, but from firsthand experiences and observations. We were able to connect what we learned about Chinese culture to the advertisements and other marketing objectives that we saw businesses implementing on a daily basis. We had many impactful opportunities on this trip, from being able to walk the Great Wall to touring Bloomberg’s Hong Kong office and learning how to use their Bloomberg terminal to speaking with one of the U.S. Commercial Service officers in Chengdu. In a typical classroom setting, you don’t have those kind of learning experiences – and they really can shape your perspective. International marketing is becoming increasingly important as the world continues to globalize and what I learned in China – including how to market to certain cultures and how to work with foreign business partners – will continue to help me as I pursue my degree and start my career.”
CofC Internship in Paris
Students in this course, which is led by professor Juliette Bourdier from the Department of French and Francophone Studies, spent eight weeks in Paris living with a Parisian family and working in a French company within their chosen career field. They enjoyed weekly field trips to different French corporations and institutions such as L’Oreal, Champagne Vineyards and the Sorbonne.
Student: Rising junior Daniel Cramer, a political science major with a minor in French and Francophone studies.
Highlight: “I’ve been interning with a sustainable development association called Les Eco Maires that focuses on helping small towns and municipalities in France integrate sustainable development projects into their infrastructures. For me, the highlight has been spending time in one place and eventually feeling like a local myself. Along with the other students in this class, I’ve been living and working in Paris for two months, and after about three or four weeks we were all taking the metro on a daily basis, stopping at local pubs after work and strolling the avenues on weekends like real Parisians. In French there’s a phrase, ‘metro, boulot, dodo,’ which means ‘metro, work, sleep.’ It may seem mundane on the surface, and of course, there’s so much more that happens in an average day, especially in Paris. But to put it simply, I’ve enjoyed sampling the cadence of everyday life here.”
Health and Communication in Barcelona
This is a unique program in which public health professor Leslie Hart teaches a 300-level course on epidemiology and communication professor Beth Sundstrom teaches a 300-level health communication course. Hart’s class involves an immersive experience in Barcelona, with excursions to such sites as a local birthing center. There are also guest lectures by local experts, including the Director of Health and Social Policy for the Spanish government in Catalonia. Sundstrom’s course is taught entirely online.
Student: Rising senior Mary Beth Vassy, a public health major.
Highlight: “Studying abroad in Barcelona has been one of the best experiences I’ve had at the College. This city is the perfect spot for public health majors to study since it has a health system very different from our own in the U.S., but it’s also a city rich with history. The highlight of this trip for me was definitely the guided tour we took through Hospital San Pau. That facility is absolutely beautiful and the occasion was rich in public health information that can be applied to every aspect of our program.”