Summer Europe trip enlightens class

by Alex Hall, Contributor

From May 20 to June 11, a class of about 30 San Diego State students and two professors took a three-week trip throughout Europe.

Through a study abroad program from the school of Communication, the group traveled to Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Czech Republic and Hungary, staying in each location for about five to six days.

“Students really opened their minds on this trip,” Patricia Geist-Martin said. “They may have initially thought that things in the United States were the only way things should be or at first impulse thought the different cultures were wrong, but after about three to four days I noticed students start to shift their perspectives. They really expanded their viewpoints of roles, rules, and norms of other cultures.”

Before leaving for the trip, the students took two courses during the preceding semester.

Every other Thursday, they studied Rhetoric of Tourism with professor Winslow and Conversation about Home and Public Spaces with professor  Geist-Martin.

Once they left for Europe, they had class the first few days in each city where they talked how they were feeling in the new country and the differences in culture they were encountering.

“It was super interesting to see what we learned in communication, things like verbal and nonverbal behaviors, in other countries and how they communicated with one another,” senior Conner Boyd said. “One of my favorite parts was just experiencing cultures that weren’t American that have thousands of years of history.”

Students were required to keep a journal to record every emotion they were feeling, sights they were seeing or they were smelling.

They also had to do group presentations for each city. The students said their favorite part was the friendships and bonds that emerged from the trip.

“It’s interesting because I feel like during the semester since we were in a class setting, there wasn’t really a chance to all bond until we left for the trip,” junior communication major Erica Mangione said. “When we were in Switzerland we stayed at this lodge and there was like thirty of us in bunk beds in one big room. It was our second stop and it was so much fun because that was where everyone really started to get along and get to know each other.”

Not only did the students connect with one another, but they grew closer to Winslow and Geist-Martin.

“For me, studying abroad has really strengthened my ability as a professor to see each student as a separate individual with their own unique story,” Geist-Martin said. “I utilized the long hours we spent on transportation to meet one on one with students. It was like taking office hours on the road. I met with students while looking over the Swiss Alps. You can’t beat that experience.”

This trip is one of the two summer study abroad programs offered by SDSU’s School of Communication. The students both said it was absolutely amazing and a life changing experience.

“I know a lot of people when the graduate say the one thing that they regret not doing was studying abroad,” Mangione said. “It really does change your mindset and make you think about other things and not just your little bubble.”

Geist-Martin said to never miss an opportunity to travel, because traveling gives people an opportunity to grow and learn.

“The opportunity to learn and the opportunity to discover things you didn’t even know you needed to discover and immersing yourself in other cultures ultimately makes you a better and more open person,” Geist-Martin said.