Going Global: SMU Studies Abroad

Amy Pollard Staff Writer

Whether sampling a local dish in Milan, watching Hamlet performed by the Royal Shakespearean Company in London or living in a gîte in La Loire, SMU students are going global this summer with study abroad trips to England, France, Italy, China, Japan and South Korea.

The London Shakespeare trip, held May 12-23, takes students to London and Stratford-upon-Avon for a sampling of British theatre. Students will visit the famous Globe Theatre, where they will see “King Lear” and “The Tempest.” After seeing three contemporary plays in London, students will travel to Stratford upon Avon – Shakespeare’s birthplace – where they will see “Hamlet” and “Tirus & Andromachus” performed by the Royal Shakespearean Company.

“The London trip gives students the distinct opportunity to see Shakespeare performed in a reconstruction of how Shakespeare was meant to be performed,” says Dr. Stephen Mead.

Mead is teaching the course associated with the trip and co-leading the trip with Dr. Julia Chavez. Currently, nine students are signed up.

“I heard about the trip in my UNI 101 class and I thought it was the opportunity of a lifetime!” says Maddie Timm, a freshman. “I was inspired to go because I love Shakespeare and I love history. It was the perfect mix of the two.”

The France study tour takes students to Paris, Mont Saint Michel, Saint Malo, La Loire (chateaux country) and St. Raphaël for an immersion in language and culture. The trip lasts May 14-28. One of the trip’s many highlights is the opportunity for students to live in a gîte, an ancient building affixed to a chateau. Students will do their own laundry and cooking while living in the gîte. On the tour, the seven attending students will visit historical sites, museums and the bibliothèque nationale (national library).

“The goal is to deepen students’ understanding of language and culture,” says Professor Kathleen McKain, who is leading the trip.

“I heard about the trip through my French professor, Kathleen McKain,” says Valerie Smith, a sophomore. “What inspired me [to go] I suppose was the history and the fact that I do sing in French. I’m very excited.”

The “Food and Fiction” Italy trip takes students to Milan, Naples, Sicily and Nursia (Norcia) for a taste of Italian food, fiction, and culture. The trip lasts June 7-27. Students will explore key sites in the slow food movement which originated in Italy.

“We will be visiting the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Bra, a key site in the slow food movement,” says Dr. Irina Gendelman, who will co-lead the trip with Dr. Jeff Birkenstein.

Students will also visit historic Benedictine sites, including a brewery once owned by the monks. Currently, nine students are signed up, but there is room for one or two more.

“We want to immerse ourselves in local life,” says Birkenstein.

“Knowing that it was Dr. Birkenstein and Dr. Gendelman leading the trip, I couldn’t say no,” says Betty Ramirez, a junior. “Dr. Birkenstein and Dr. Gendelman are amazing, charismatic professors who know so much about the world. I can’t wait to travel and learn how to cook, speak some Italian, and gain a broader perspective of the world.”

The Japan Cultural Exchange Tour (JCET), Korea Cultural Exchange Program (KCEP) and China Cultural Exchange Program (CCEP) allow students to experience the culture of Asia.

“One goal of the JCET, KCEP and CCEP trips is to help students gain appreciation of Asia and cultural awareness,” says Brenda Burns, Study Abroad Coordinator. “Another goal is to maintain relationships with sister universities.”

The JCET trip, co-led by Laurel Dube and Dr. Olivia Archibald, lasts from May 15-25 and features home stays in Japan. Currently, five students are signed up. While the JCET exchange program has existed for over twenty years, the KCEP and CCEP trips are new this year.

The KCEP trip, led by Laura-Bell Douglas, lasts from May 20-June 9 and allows students to obtain credit. Currently, six students are signed up.

The CCEP trip, led by Kathleen Thomas, lasts from June 15-July 14 and also allows students to obtain credit.

The students going on the JCET, KCEP and CCEP exchange programs represent a wide variety of majors, ranging from Computer Science and Psychology to Criminal Justice and Education.

“It’s really exciting. We’ve got such a great opportunity for students,” says Burns. “We’re glad to see students taking advantage of it.”

With the Italy, France, England, JCET, KCEP and CCEP trips, Saint Martin’s students are going global. To support the students taking these trips, stay tuned for future fundraising efforts. To learn more about study abroad programs, contact Brenda Burns at bburns@stmartin.edu.

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