Academic Travel Stories: Spring Edition


Another incredible Academic Travel period has come to a close, and stories are ready to be shared. There is nothing more rewarding than venturing to a destination that you have been studying for months, and watching the material come to life. Keep reading to find out more about some unique experiences from all over the world!


Name: Professor Armando Zanecchia

Academic Department: Political Science/Business

Academic Travel Course Title: TVL 298 South Africa/Swaziland

Briefly describe the AT course: what is the concept behind the course, where did the course travel to, and how long have you been leading this course?

This course explores natural resource conservation, sustainability and cultural understanding in South Africa and Swaziland. I have been leading this course for 10 years.

What was your favorite memory from this travel session? Did anything surprise you?

Climbing Sibebe Peak in Swaziland, observing the Big 5 in Kruger National Park, and enjoying the students' appreciation of the natural beauty of Southern Africa. Sibebe Peak was a bit of a surprise in terms of its challenge.

What was an activity during the travel that truly embodied the course?

The Kruger National Park game drives, and our lecture by Izak Smit.

What is your favorite part about leading students on Academic Travel?

Seeing their horizons and cultural understanding broaden in countries they may otherwise would not have visited.

How would you like to see this course grow or change in the future?

Convert it to a 3-credit academic travel, my plan for October 2018.
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Name: Dylan George 

Major(s)/Minor(s): Double Major in International Relations and International Management; Minor in History

Academic Travel Course: Sustainable Economic Development

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?

In this course we examine the different approaches used in economics to study sustainability within the context of economic development. This will include both mainstream approaches that use neoclassical assumptions of market clearing and rational choice theory, and non-mainstream approaches including Marxian economics, Ecological economics, and Institutional economics. We traveled to India and Bhutan to study this sustainable development first hand.

What surprised you during Academic Travel?

The role of the hand loom is not only an important economic factor in India but an important cultural facet.

What was your most memorable experience during Academic Travel?

Hiking to the Tiger's Nest Monastery and getting to spend sometime inside.


What was your favorite learning moment during Academic Travel?

Going on a safari around Kaziranga National Park, learning about how the government and the people are working towards preservation an more sustainable future.

What was your favorite food/meal during Academic Travel?

Honestly India was a wonderful culinary experience every meal (if you can handle spice that is)

Anything more you want to add?

Although India was an amazing experience, going to Bhutan will always have a spec-ail place in my heart. The city of Thimphu is one of my favorite cities I've visited and to top it off it is surrounded by the Himalayas

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Name: Professor Alison E. Vogelaar

Academic Department: Communication and Media Studies

Academic Travel Course Title: Media Ecology: Nordic Noir Meets Danish Hygge

Briefly describe the AT course: what is the concept behind the course, where did the course travel to, and how long have you been leading this course?

This course uses the ideas of media ecology to explore Danish cultural practices and media (in this case hygge and Nordic noir). This was the first run of this course to Denmark--where we visited, Copenhagen (on the island of Zeeland), and the west coast and southeast of Jutland.

What was your favorite memory from this travel session? Did anything surprise you?

We spent a VERY cold and windy afternoon on the West coast of the North sea. It was utterly gorgeous and I will never forget the moment the sun was very suddenly eclipsed by a forceful wind and snow storm. We were fighting our way back to the bus and it reminded me of how powerful nature is (and how vulnerable we are to it). It was humbling and intoxicating.

What was an activity during the travel that truly embodied the course?

We had 4 really special group dinners in a rental home in rural Denmark--the mood indoors was 'hyggelig' and the weather outside was very 'Nordic noir'.

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Name: Alyssa Viernes

Major(s)/Minor(s): Visual Communication Arts with an emphasis in Fashion studies; Minors in Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature and Marketing

Academic Travel Course: TVL 298 South Africa & Swaziland

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?

Our travel focused on the the economic and political environment of South Africa and Swaziland while also considering issues of wildlife and nature conservation in the mentioned countries.

What surprised you during Academic Travel?

I was surprised at how apparent the racial tension between the different races was. I was also pleasantly surprised at how fun the whole travel was. We did many activities like climbing the 2nd tallest granite rock in the world and shark cage diving that I would not have expected myself to do.


What was your most memorable experience during Academic Travel?

My most memorable experience from travel was being able to see South Africa's Big Five game animals (leopards, lions, cape buffaloes, elephants, rhinos) on the first game drive I have ever been on in my life!

What was your favorite learning moment during Academic Travel?

We had an amazing tour guide on our first day in Swaziland. An interesting topic he spoke about was the wedding culture in Swaziland. He discussed the traditional Swazi wedding ceremonies and the effects of the introduction of Western white wedding ceremonies in Swaziland.

What was your favorite food/meal during Academic Travel?

One of my favorite dishes from South African cuisine was the dessert Malva Pudding. It's a dessert I would definitely recommend everyone should try.

Anything more you want to add?

I am very thankful that this travel was the last academic travel I will take in my Franklin career. It was extremely enjoyable. Everyday was so much fun and we were able to do so many amazing activities. In addition, this travel really gave our travel group to bond together. I would definitely recommend anyone to take this travel if it is offered again. Also, I am thankful for Professor Zanecchia and our tour guides for making this academic travel as amazing as it was.

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Name: Amy Lingens

Major(s)/Minor(s): Environmental Studies

Academic Travel Course: ENV230T Freshwater Conservation 

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?

We learn about freshwater systems (ex. rivers and lakes) and the role water plays in our world. We went first to northeast Italy (Ragogna) and then Ljubljana in Slovenia.

What surprised you during Academic Travel?



The material was even more interesting than I expected, and the beauty of the nature we saw also was a wonderful surprise.



What was your most memorable experience during Academic Travel?




The most memorable experience for me was going into the caves and learning about groundwater systems.



What was your favorite learning moment during Academic Travel?



My favorite learning moment was walking along the Tagliamento floodplain, where we got to perform some testing and we saw the shifting habitat mosaic in real life.



What was your favorite food/meal during Academic Travel?



I loved the food at the hotel in Ragogna, but I also loved when we went to the Wok and Indian restaurants in Ljubljana. The mini pancakes in Ljubljana were tasty, and the vegetarian restaurant The Loving Hut was great too.


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Name: Ariana Satina
Major(s)/Minor(s): Communication and Media Studies Major/Psychology Minor

Academic Travel Course: Media Ecology: Nordic Noir Meets Danish Hygge


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?

My travel course focused on Nordic noir and Danish hygge. Nordic noir is a genre of crime fiction emanating out of Scandinavia that employs linguistic simplicity in the service of moral complexity. Hygge is a Danish concept, mentality, and aesthetic that roughly translates as "coziness". As a class, we traveled to Denmark to gain deeper insight on how these two topics are intertwined in Danish media ecology.

What surprised you during Academic Travel?


I was most surprised by how cold it was in Denmark. Since we traveled there late March, I thought it would have been a little warmer. A tour guide informed us that what we were experiencing was one of Denmark's coldest springs (to the point where it felt like mid-winter), which was highly unusual for the country.


What was your most memorable experience during Academic Travel?




My most memorable experience during Academic Travel was traveling to the west coast of Denmark, Jutland, and experiencing an unexpected snow storm. We had stopped by a beach to observe and experience the Danish surroundings. On our way back to the bus, the clouds and snowfall thickened and the wind strengthened. In a matter of seconds, the other students and I couldn't see what was ahead (because of the thick clouds and gusty winds shooting snow and sand in our eyes) and couldn't walk straight (because the wind was just that strong). We returned to the bus with sand inside our clothes and in our mouths. I had never experienced anything like that.


What was your favorite learning moment during Academic Travel?


My favorite learning moment during academic travel was learning that the concept of hygge can never be forced, only achieved naturally. I had learned this by doing unifying activities with classmates I had become better acquainted with while on travel.


What was your favorite food/meal during Academic Travel?


My favorite food during Academic Travel was the cinnamon rolls. They were at almost every bakery we passed by, fluffy and fresh. You could taste the love put into them.

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Where in the world did I go? 

I ventured south of the equator with Alyssa and Professor Zanecchia to visit South Africa and Swaziland.



The culture was colorful, the animals were big, the ocean was warm, and land was lush. The days were long, but only because they were packed full of safaris, hikes, guest lectures, and so much more. It was an experience that I do not believe that I could have had on my own, and to experience it with my open-minded Franklin peers, and Professor Zanecchia was such a pleasure.








As a graduating senior, it is extremely difficult to realize that I will soon have to say goodbye to FUS and the Academic Travel program. Through ATFUS, I have been to Italy, Ireland, India, Spain, Iceland, and South Africa; it has not only given me the opportunity to travel, but to have authentic and conscious cultural exchanges. I have come out of each travel session a more globally-minded and aware individual, and I do believe that this has been essential to my higher education. 

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