Seven European Countries, Six UA Credits

La Monica Everett-Haynes
June 21, 2013

This is what learning through experience looks like: Three weeks of classes, weekends included. 80 hours. Seven countries. Six UA academic credits.

It was a packed trip coordinated through the Study Abroad Office for a group of UA students who recently returned from their academic tour of Europe. 


The group of Wildcats spotted a rainbow after visiting a waterfall in Golling, Austria. (Photo credit: Braelyn Jane Smith)

While abroad, the students learned about life in the early to the late Middle Ages in Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, Switzerland and France.

Over the three-week period, students learned about social and political systems during the Middle Ages. Additionally, the group studied issues around religion and economics; happiness and self-realization; and also gender politics, feminism and the role women played during the period. Thus, the trip turned to be relevant for students studying in a range of disciplines, including history, the arts, gender studies, human interaction, poetry and literature, among others.

Brittany Rudolph, who will be a UA sophomore in the fall, said she took an interest in the study abroad trip because she has an interested in the artistic and literary work of the Middle Ages. 

"As interesting as it has been to read about things like Gothic cathedrals in books, it can be difficult to truly understand what these structures look like without seeing them in the brick or stone, as the case may be," said Rudolph, an Honors College student who is studying art history and English. "I became very interested in actually going to see in person the sites I had read about."

On a gondola ride in Venice, Italy are (left to right) Brittany Rudolph, Andrea Ang, Amy Linder and Nora Larson. (Photo credit: Braelyn Jane Smith).

Led by award-winning faculty member Albrecht Classen, a University Distinguished Professor of German studies, the group of students visited several different sites cathedrals, castles, monasteries, abbeys and waterfalls, for example – on a daily basis.

"It was wonderful to not only get to see the places and historical sites we visited, but also to fully understand and appreciate them with the help of Dr. Cassen," Rudolph said. "It was incredibly valuable to have an expert with us who could explain to us the particulars of the many different castles, cathedrals and other sites we saw. "

UA Distinguished Professor of German studies Albrecht Classen lead the tour. Classen speaks to the students about the the city hall of Landshut, Germany and ways the site was used in modern and Medieval times.Of Classen, Braelyn Jane Smith said: "He is like an encyclopedia when it comes to Medieval studies and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to learn from him within such a small group of students." (Photo credit: Braelyn Jane Smith)

Braelyn Jane Smith, a UA photography student who is pursuing a minor in German studies, said she decided to go on the trip after having taken a spring 2012 course with Classen focused on geography in the Middle Ages.

"I really enjoyed that class so I figured studying more in-depth about the stories while we were in the same places that the stories originated from would be a great opportunity," said Smith, who also serves as a UA College of Humanities Ambassador.

Among the students who attended the trip were Mark Wagoner and Natalie Brand. The group visited the Château de Sully-sur-Loire castle in France. (Photo credit: Braelyn Jane Smith)
"Overall the whole trip was extremely valuable, and everybody got something different out of it," Smith said. She noted she was able to practice her photography, an asset as she just recently entered the UA's program. Likewise, others studying history, art history and filmmaking were able to glean valuable insight from the various sites and instruction, Smith said.
"I like that the tour can be adapted to whatever a student is studying," she said.
For more information on this, and other, study abroad programs, please visit the UA Study Abroad Office.
The group walked to the top of the Petersberg Castle, located in Friesach, Austria. (Photo credit: Braelyn Jane Smith)


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