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Highlights from Winter 2024 study abroad programs

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Latvia

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​Holly Myers, assistant professor of Russian, inaugurated a program in Latvia. One of the students on the program had this to say: “Regardless of season, weather or how low the thermometer reads in winter, Latvians cherish the time they are outdoors. Nature is a source of national pride and the context for many cultural traditions, such as berry-picking, mushrooming and ancient rituals. During our time in Latvia, we experienced firsthand the serenity found in the Latvian winter wilderness. On an excursion to medieval castles in Sigulda, we hiked in the snow past groves of silver birch trees, taking in the peaceful frosted forest around us. Along the way, we stopped by a hidden treasure known as Gutman's Cave, the largest cave in the Baltics. Local legends surround the cave, including a tragic love story, the worship of deities and the healing properties of the fresh water spring that runs through it. The walls are covered with the inscribed names of barons, lords and coats of arms dating back hundreds of years. The scenic hike gave us some insight into the folk traditions that connect the Latvian people to their ancestors and natural surroundings."​

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Siena, Italy

Sienna, Italy

​Students on the annual program in Siena, Italy were treated to a new excursion this year. Co-directors Riccarda Saggese, professor of Italian, and Roberta Morrione, instructor of Italian, write of the “sweet magic" the students experienced in the town of Perugia, in the Umbria region, located about 110 kilometers from Siena. “I've never tasted such delicious chocolate," remarked one student during the visit to the Perugina factory where they tasted and later made the signature Baci in the chocolate lab. It was a memorable experience on many levels. Under the guidance of the master chocolatier, the students cooked and mixed the ingredients and piped the ganache truffles into unique creations. It was quite a bonus to leave the factory with bags of hand-made chocolate, an apron and a certificate of mastery chocolatier. The group left feeling like chocolate connoisseurs, having sampled the many varieties and flavors. Not only that, as another student said, “I think this is the most fun I have ever had in my life."​

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Costa Rica

Costa Rica

In the heart of Costa Rica's lush landscape, amidst town plazas, central marketplaces and the melodies of exotic birds, students delved into the very essence of the Pura Vida lifestyle. Volcanoes, rainforests, endangered species, waterfalls and butterfly gardens were on the itinerary as 22 students explored the unique biodiversity and vibrant ecosystems of Costa Rica all while improving their Spanish language skills under the direction of Basia Moltchanov, assistant professor of Spanish, and Crista Johnson, instructor of Spanish. But their adventure did not end with the marvels of nature; it extended to the heart of Costa Rica's cultural and economic vitality: the coffee industry. The students visited the renowned Café Britt plantation and roastery, a bastion of tradition and innovation nestled in the outskirts of Heredia. Here, the students bore witness to the intricate dance of cultivation and craftsmanship that defines Costa Rica's coffee heritage. From the humble planting of seeds to the meticulous care and harvesting of ripe beans, every step of the coffee production process unfolded like a symphony of dedication and passion.

The grand finale of their journey into coffee culture was guided by seasoned coffee purists as they embarked on a voyage of the senses—a journey that would redefine their understanding of taste, touch and aroma. In that moment, they understood that they were not merely tasting coffee; they were tasting the very essence of Costa Rican life itself.​

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Athens, Greece

​This January, assistant professor of ancient Greek and Roman studies, Tyson Sukava, took sixteen enthusiastic and talented students for a micromester (3-week) program to Athens, Greece. With the benefit of mostly wonderful Mediterranean weather and themes of ancient competition as the program's lens, the group explored a variety of archaeological and cultural sites within Athens and beyond. Highlights included soaking in the picturesque sanctuary at Delphi, scaling up the summit of ancient Acrocorinth, running on the ancient Nemean racetrack and storming the Bronze Age fortifications at Mycenae. It was an adventure that neither Dr. Sukava nor his students will soon forget!​

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Leipzig, Germany

Leipzig, Germany

​Seventeen Blue Hens braved the winter in northern Europe to spend a month in Leipzig, Germany, under the direction of Ester Riehl, assistant professor of Germanl. Students took intensive German language classes every morning and explored the city during the afternoon. Some students were surprised at how much they enjoyed the cooking class in which they learned how to make regional dishes, including Quarkkeulchen, a kind of potato pancake with raisins. They toured the city of Erfurt and saw the statue of “Bernd das Brot"—a beloved character in a children's TV show. On a weekend excursion to Berlin, they toured the Bundestag and sat in the room where the SPD (Social Democratic Party) meets.​

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Granada, Spain

Granada, Spain

​In Granada, Spain, students lived with a host family and experienced Spanish culture both in and outside of the classroom this past winter. Student Mia Lask had this to say about the experience: “Advice to myself from the first day of the program now having completed it: I'd remind myself that new experiences like this are meant for growth. Any fear you feel is an opportunity to learn more about yourself and the world. Spain will offer you a new perspective on your current and future life. This photo in the garden of El Generalife near the Alhambra reminds me that I need to live in the moment. Enjoy peaceful and free time, and make sure to incorporate more experiences to explore on a regular basis."​

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Highlights from Winter 2024 study abroad programs
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