Europe: The Ultimate Classroom
Students took an extensive walking tour of Paris, the City of Lights, covering everything from the Champs Elysees to Notre Dame Cathedral, with a well-deserved pit stop at the upscale ice creamery Berthillon. Photos by Dick Makin.
The Ultimate Classroom
During Spring Quarter last year, I consumed a lot of gelato, spent four nights in a castle, and finally came face-to-face with the Mona Lisa. Yes, I was enrolled in school, but instead of my usual agenda of going from class to class, eating in the school cafeteria, and living a normal dorm life, I found myself taking the train from Vienna to Berlin, dining in Italian trattorias, and having a ball with my 26 classmates as we spent the quarter studying in Europe.
European Quarter is a Seattle Pacific University study abroad program that gives students the opportunity to travel through such countries as Italy, Austria, Germany, and France while learning the language, history, and culture of each locale. Legendary historical cities, such as Florence and Berlin, became my very own classroom. My personal favorite? Paris, France, of course! The art was mind-blowing, the people were lovely, and the Nutella crepes sealed the deal.
As an English major, I absorbed all of the sights and sounds in each new location; I eagerly journaled every day, intent on expressing the appeal of both travel and discovery. The other students on European Quarter included history, linguistics, French, business, theology, and biology majors, among others. Every student on the trip had diverse interests and studies, but we all had a similar driving force: a craving to learn about new cultures, tastes, and people; dive into three foreign languages; and experience history in the most up-close way possible.
La Tour EiffelHistory became understandable and tangible when our group visited parts of Germany that were affected by both the atrocities of World War II and the Cold War’s construction of the Berlin Wall. Most of all, the idea of beauty was emphasized by our professors, who accompanied us on our journey. Professor Michael Macdonald taught me that the simple act of going to the symphony is nothing short of a spiritual experience, because it transcends the ordinary and points to beauty and eternity.
European Quarter gave me the chance to get out of my comfort zone and explore the beautiful world that God has to offer. The opportunities available through European Quarter and studying abroad in general are something I hope every student has a chance to experience. My bit of advice would be to let the world change you so that you can change the world.
European Quarter is a SPU sponsored study abroad program held Autumn Quarter. Sites vary, depending on faculty leadership, but participants meet the expectations of a quarter's study in Europe both academically, earning a minimum of 12 credits, and culturally, through in-depth contact with the language/culture connection.
By Allie Fraley
Read other Feature Stories about SPU students and alums.