Fall 2016 Academic Travel Experiences! Part 2

Hello there! 

This week, I am pleased to bring you part two of the Academic Travel Experiences post. So keep reading if you would like to hear about Fall 2016's Academic Travel courses to Scotland, Spain, and the Alps.



A group photo of Measuring the Alps students, taken by Professor Prisner
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Name: Trevor Herden
Class level: Senior
Major/Minor: IR/German Studies
From: Wadsworth, IL
Academic Travel Course: Symbolizing Scottish Folk

Briefly describe your Academic Travel course - what is the concept behind the course, what did you learn about, and where did you go for the travel component?
The course focuses on the nature of Scottish identity and especially Scottish identity in its fractured and diverse depictions. Prior to travel, we watched a number of movies that depicted various ideas of Scotland and Scottishness, and used those concepts we developed on the travel in order to better understand the complicated identity of Scots and Scotland.


What surprised you during Academic Travel?
I was surprised by how how friendly and helpful people were. Perhaps I had an idea of Scots as being somewhat cold or annoyed by travelers, but every I talked to was very pleasant and easy to get along with.

What was your most memorable experience during Academic Travel?
To be honest, I don’t think I could separate out one individual moment that was the most memorable to me on the travel. From the ceilidh in Aberfeldy, to the unbelievably beautiful Isle of Skye and the modern bustle of Glasgow, the whole travel was a singularly memorable experience.
Is there a course project? If so, what is it and how is it supplemented by the travel component?
As a final project we will take a movie, concept or person to analyze using the themes and ideas discussed in the course and on the travel. Being on the travel itself really helped to cement those ideas so that the final project is not simply a product of the Scotland that we have seen in a few movies and in-class discussions, but based upon a version that we were also able to experience in person.
What was your favorite learning moment during Academic Travel?
I wouldn’t say I had a favorite moment, but rather that I learned huge amounts from Iain, our guide on the travel. Iain is a native Scot and seeing how he experienced the various places that we visited and told their stories really helped me to understand in a very real sense at least one version of Scottish identity.

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Name: Emma Collins
Class level: Freshman
Major/Minor: Environmental Studies and Mathematics
From: Leadville, Colorado
Academic Travel Course: Measuring the Alps

Briefly describe your Academic Travel course - what is the concept behind the course, what did you learn about, and where did you go for the travel component?
This math course focuses on understanding topography, and its implementations throughout the Alps. We spent some time in Italy learning about the Dolomites, went to Innsbruck, Austria to explore the mountains there, and to Davos and Bern Switzerland. Hiking through these mountain ranges, we measured hiking times, slope, and visibility. We learned to estimate elevation and distance, and learned about geological factors, natural hazards, and alpine life. 

What surprised you during Academic Travel?
We learned about so much more than the math, and were exposed to such a variety of information. Not only did we hike into these unique places to see some of the things we had discussed in action, but we went further to analyze this, and its implications in real life. We would notice the slope of a mountain, and then think about the avalanche risk, how that affects the local community, and what is being done about it. 

What was your most memorable experience during Academic Travel?
The views were amazing! Each hike was beautiful. We would walk for hours, fully immersed in the natural landscape, and upon reaching a summit, everyone would take time to appreciate the beauty we were surrounded by. The incredible views will stay with me. 
Photo taken by Maria Flores
Is there a course project? If so, what is it and how is it supplemented by the travel component?
Groups of students are working on course projects, and each of us developed a plan to gather information while on travel. For example, one group will work on hiking times, and the accuracy of formulas used to calculate such. They would time each of our hikes. My project has to do with tree line, and why it is different in different parts of the Alps. We were able to experience this, and take pictures of this phenomenon for first hand research. We talked to local experts about this topic, and were given information and tools to help us understand this in the Alps region in particular. 
Photo taken by Maria Flores
What was your favorite learning moment during Academic Travel?
When traveling in a setting with an academic group who is passionate about a learning topic, every moment is a great learning experience. Having the opportunity to experience these places, and see the aspects we discussed in class is amazing. It was a great opportunity to have meaningful discussions, and analyze these places while actually experiencing it. Even if we were not actively measuring, we were learning about the environment, the geology, how to work in a group, what the culture is like in these mountain towns and so on. This approach to learning allowed us to be genuinely excited and curious throughout the tip.

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Name:  Samuel Miller
Class level: Senior
Major/Minor: History/Political Science, Art History
From: Philadelphia, PA.

Briefly describe your Academic Travel course - what is the concept behind the course, what did you learn about, and where did you go for the travel component?
The travel was an overview of Barcelona and the region of Catalonia, considering its art, industry and local identity. We focused on experiences of the Spanish Civil war in Catalonia, studied Catalan artists such as Miro and Gaudi, and saw how industrial enterprises such as the port of Barcelona make the region competitive through Europe. 
Locals doing the Sardana, a traditional Catalan circle dance
What surprised you during Academic Travel?
I was genuinely surprised by Barcelona itself with its wonderful style and general livability. One hears constantly about the effects of the 2008 financial crisis on Spain, but Barcelona & Catalonia really impressed with its infrastructure and industry. The city itself is beautiful, clean and well cared for, and full of gorgeous design and architecture, both classic and contemporary. 

What was your most memorable experience during Academic Travel? 
Gaudis Park Guell was a fantastic experience, as it really is unlike anything else. We also spent a day in the countryside, traveling to the small town of Girona, used as a set for Game of Thrones, and visited a nearby castle remodeled by Dali.
Interior of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia 
What was your favorite learning moment during Academic Travel?
One day, after class, Professor Rocourt took a few of us to a small establishment from the 1960’s unchanged in every detail from the bottles on the shelves, to the proprietor behind the bar. We had a fantastic discussion about memories and perceptions of the Spanish Civil war, and Professor Rocourt told of few of his famous stories as well. 

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That's it for this semester!


I would like to extend my biggest thanks to all of the students who took part in the creation of these posts. The responses I received truly blew me away.


Should this series be continued in Spring 2017? Let me know what you think! 



As always, arrivederci and till next time, 




Gabrielle

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