Today: Jul 17, 2024

Study abroad students share their experiences during a welcome home ceremony


Each year dozens of students spend their summer vacations studying abroad. By the end of the program, students are excited to share their experience with friends and family.   Those students returned to Southern last Wednesday with a welcome home ceremony.

Students who traveled to Iceland, Guatemala, Spain, France and Italy were all honored with praise, graduation sashes and traditional American snacks like popcorn and corndogs.

“We want to highlight the importance and benefits of study abroad. It is a life-changing experience,” said Interim Provost Marianne Kennedy, who attended the event along with Interim President Stanley Battle.

Each professor from the multiple study abroad programs gave students and faculty in the attendance a brief glimpse into what each student experienced in their respective host countries. One of the programs that took place over the summer was shared with the entire Southern campus through letters posted to the university’s website in hopes of attracting more students to the program and those similar to it. “Letters from Paris” describes the experiences of the students during a month-long study abroad program.

Southern’s program in Paris is designed so students can study and earn credit while living and learning in the City of Lights. Camille Serchuk and Thuan Vu, both art professors, are in charge of the program.

“The experience is here to offer a broad worldview about what living in a different culture is about and experiencing one of the richest cultures in the western world,” said Vu.

The program that was set up in 2006 sends students on a month-long trip to study, learn, and experience a world outside of the United States, which Vu said is a major part of going abroad.

“I enjoyed everything about Paris; there was nothing to dislike. The professors who ran the program where incredibly organized and really wonderful,” said Michael Gavin, English and French major who attended the summer program.

Students choose from three classes that include Creative Drawing; City of Light: 2000 Years of Art and Architecture in Paris; Advanced French Culture and Language Practice in France; and French Cinema: How to Read French Films. Students are not taught in classrooms; instead, both Professors Vu and Serchuk make Paris the classroom.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for our students to see art firsthand,” said Serchuk.  “There is so much to see that it gives the students a real encounter with the real thing itself.”

Students have the ability to make the museums, streets and places of Paris their own, whether it be drawing in the Louvre or discovering their own hidden Paris and capturing it in a picture. Students are also encouraged to go off on their own and explore other areas of the city besides the most touristy and local areas.

“The most rewarding part is to get students out of their shells and to experience something different. We have had such wonderful students and they have been so alive and so open to what they are seeing,” said Serchuk.

One of Vu and Serchuk’s main goals for getting students out to explore the real Paris is not just to appreciate art but also the way others live and to interact with members of a different culture.

“It was definitely a worthwhile trip. We did so many different things you would not get to do if you were studying art history in the U.S. We got to study painting and all the French styles they used,” said Chelsea Golon, a liberal studies major with minors in art history, physiology and business.

Students’ fees include one group dinner a week, and they are housed in international student housing with private rooms and bathrooms. They are also given a metro pass and full access to all the museums in Paris. Students will pay tuition fees for each class and are provided financial aid if they register for six credits or more. Program fees and classes differ depending on the country.

Prerequisites and instructor permission are required for all classes and differ depending on the country a student chooses.

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