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Students Immerse Themselves in Different Cultures During Winter

By Alexa Schmidt, A&E Editor 

This winter break, students either slept in, reunited with high school friends, or immersed themselves in another culture and traveled across the globe to participate in Manhattan College’s study abroad program. About nine different courses were offered this year, with destinations like Italy, India, the United Arab Emirates and Spain on the list.

Each study abroad program was taught differently, depending on how a particular professor wanted the class to be structured. Most students were to do some prep work before attending the trip, arranging Google hangout sessions or informational meetings.

Every professor had the same goal in mind: to expose the students to as many sights and historically significant landmarks as possible.

One of the courses was a 300-level religion class, “Catholic Mass and it’s Music,” taught by William Mulligan, Ph.D, in Munich, Germany and Vienna, Austria.

Marketing major Lauryn Hughes studied abroad for the first time with about a dozen other students.

Hughes attended the Germany and Austria study abroad program this winter. LAURYN HUGHES / COURTESY

“While we were in Germany and Austria, we … each had [an assigned] location and we each had to do a presentation at that location and then after the presentations we were free to explore. We did a couple adventures as a group. We went and saw castles and abbeys, but for the most part a lot of the adventuring was up to us,” Hughes said.

Hughes’ favorite exploration during the trip were the castles in northern Bavaria.

“There were really beautiful mountains and you can see the Alps and everything was covered with snow and it was just a cute town and just like the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen,” Hughes said.

Hughes, having grown up Catholic, experienced a variety of ways to celebrate mass.

“I always kind of thought there was only one way to do mass and I saw so many different types of mass while I was there and it was so interesting to me, and I learned a lot about not only German and Austrian culture, but just like the Catholic mass and how it varies from country to country,” she said.

By staying at an apartment, cooking, and going to the local grocery stores, Hughes felt like she had the unique opportunity to experience a completely new culture.

“We used the subway, we ate at local restaurants, we picked up German. We tried to speak as much German as possible. And I just thought it was a really amazing experience to get a broader view of the world,” Hughes said.

Senior Lauren Saggese took the 300-level religion class, “Saints in the Catholic Imagination,” taught by Brother Robert Berger in Paris, France.

“We had class every morning, usually at 10 a.m. and went on cultural excursions to churches, museums and other historical monuments for the rest of the day. Every night we had to read passages from the diary of a Jewish woman during the Holocaust. We had to write reflections based on it and connected with our own lives,” Saggese said.

The class went to some of the most recognizable places in Paris, including the Eiffel Tower, the gothic style church of St. Chappelle, the Louvre, and more.

“I think the most interesting part was the fact that we were reading about a Jewish woman in the Netherlands while we were learning about saints in Paris. We did visit a Holocaust museum one day and it was very impactful. Eddie [the protagonist in the diary]  had the characteristics of a saint without being of the Catholic religion, and I think that helps understand what being a saint really means,” Saggese said.

Group photo of the Paris study abroad museum visit. LAUREN SAGGESE / COURTESY

Matthew Blackwood, sophomore, and nine other students traveled to London, England with Heidi Laudien, Ph.D. and the 300-level class, “Literary London.”

“We would normally leave the hotel around like nine or ten in the morning, and then we would go on excursions or go to different trips around London. Sometimes we went outside of London. Around three, we have a break, or stay out in the city of London, have class at five in the afternoon, and then most nights we had to ourselves,” Blackwood said.

Blackwood and his classmates replicated The Beatles famous album cover at Abbey Road. MATTHEW BLACKWOOD / COURTESY

“What was interesting about the trip was, I really thought that learning the material of British literature and comparing it to actually seeing where it was written or things that influenced me… just experiencing both of that simultaneously was really really cool. I enjoyed it. I would go back in a heartbeat to London, or just take it out and study abroad again in a heartbeat.”

1 Comment on Students Immerse Themselves in Different Cultures During Winter

  1. John Mark // January 22, 2020 at 8:38 pm //

    Great article and information about the Study Abroad experiences.

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