Study Abroad

Kelly Studies abroad in Sevilla

History major Elizabeth (Liz) Kelly, ’19 is currently studying abroad in Seville, Spain. One Thing After Another would have loved to interview her in person in sunny, southern Spain, but settled for a long distance conversation about her studies and travels. She had just gotten back from a weekend trip to Paris when the conversation began.

Q: What brought you to Saint Anselm College? How did you decide to enroll here?

A: I came to Saint Anselm based on the opportunity to pursue a liberal arts education and continue as a student-athlete. I play lacrosse. Being able to balance sports and academics was important to me, and Saint A’s was the perfect fit.

Q: What made you decide to be a history major? Has something in the major stood out thus far?

A: I chose to be a history major because I am interested in law school. Aspects of the major, such as reading, analyzing, comprehending, and writing will be helpful in preparing for a career in law. In regards to the history department at Saint A’s, I have really enjoyed all the professors I’ve had. I would say that my history professors strongly influenced me in choosing this major. They have made all the history classes I have taken interesting and intriguing!

Q: Tell me about your program in Spain. 

A: I am studying at the University of Sevilla in Sevilla (or Seville, as it’s referred to in English) which is located in the Andalusian region of Spain. It is an important city in the history of Spain and the world because all people and imports coming from the New World had to pass through this port. I study mostly with other American or English students in classes taught in both English and Spanish. I came here with a program called ISA (International Studies Abroad) who have been super helpful in this crazy transition, and I’ve also planned many excursions for us to see other cities in Spain.

Q: So you have gotten to travel while studying abroad?

A: Yes, of course! Traveling in Europe IS SO EASY. In Spain, I’ve been to Madrid, Toledo, Cadiz, Barcelona, and, of course, Sevilla. I’ve spent the last two weekends in Munich and Paris. Finding deals to make travel easy and affordable is not at all difficult, and this is definitely the opportunity of a lifetime. I have plans within the next couple weeks to visit Lagos (Portugal), Amsterdam, and Morocco.

Q: Being in Spain must be pretty exciting right now with the Catalan independence vote and the police violence in response. Are those events affecting you in any way?

A: The independence referendum in Catalonia has obviously been a huge topic of conversation here, and there are Spanish national flags, along with democratic “Si!” flags (supporting Catalan independence), everywhere. Every local Spaniard has an opinion on this matter. On the anti-independence side, people argue that Catalonia IS a part of Spain and should remain that way. If Catalonia leaves Spain what is stopping every other region from doing the same? On the pro-independence side, people argue that Catalans are culturally different from the rest of Spain, and their unique culture should be recognized as such.

The weekend of the vote, my friends and I actually went to Barcelona because we had to travel from there. We were in Barcelona the Thursday before the vote and the Monday after the vote, and we were able to tour the city, go to the beach, and arrive and leave from the airport completely unaffected. We are aware of the police violence that occurred, but were surprised to see how “normal” everything appeared the day immediately after the vote.

Q: What is it like to be an American in Spain? Do you find people ask you questions about American politics or culture?

A: Being an American in Spain has been interesting. The second people hear my accent, they ask me my opinion on Donald Trump, and are eager to tell me how entertaining they think his campaign was and how his presidency is. I have been told that all we do is complain and work in America, and I am starting to believe they are right.

Q: Is there something you are looking forward to doing before you come home?

A: I am definitely looking forward to visiting Morocco. I think that will be a very cool experience and unlike anything I have seen before. I also am looking forward to the Christmas season and how that is celebrated in Spain as well as the United Kingdom.

Q: Is there something you miss about the US or the Hilltop?

A: Honestly, I am so happy to be here. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to study like this, and there is constantly so much to do that I don’t even feel like I’ve had the opportunity to miss home. The weather in Sevilla is so beautiful, and I am honestly dreading the day I have to leave. I will be happy to be back with my friends and family come December, but until then I am going to try and make the most of every day I am here!

I would 10/10 recommend the study abroad experience to anyone who can make it work with their schedule. To realize how small I am in this huge world, and how much more there is to do and see outside of my tiny and protected reality, has been a beautiful and eye-opening experience. Especially for people who are trying to excel in another language, the only way you can truly learn it is to immerse!

Furthermore, I consider that the myth of the unemployable History major must be destroyed.

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Burkart Back from Study Abroad in Italy

Jonathan Burkart

Last semester three history majors spent time abroad. One went to Germany and another explored Britain. History major Jonathan Burkart ’18 (Brooklyn, CT) went to Orvieto, Italy. One Thing after Another was curious about how his background in history influenced his encounter with the ancient Etruscans, the Romans, the medieval city-state, and modern Italy. We asked Jonathan about his experiences abroad as well as his thoughts about internships and careers.

Q: How did you come to be a history major? What inspired or influenced that choice?

A: History has always been my favorite subject. Since elementary school, I would soak up every piece of history in literature, my classes, and when visiting museums or parks with my family. I am lucky enough to have had a long list of exceptional teachers who helped increase my interest through fascinating classes and a genuine commitment to their students. My passion for history never abated, so it was a natural choice to major in it.

Q: You spent all of last spring semester in Orvieto, Italy as part of a Saint Anselm College study abroad program. What were your classes and experiences like?

A: It’s hard to summarize three extraordinary months in a few sentences. . . . I loved every minute of my study abroad experience. Perhaps the most incredible feature was our Chiavi class. In Chiavi (which translates to “keys”), we read about different parts of Italy’s history, such as Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise, and then we would take a trip to Florence to see and “unlock” the history and culture. Orvieto and Italy are so rich in history, from ancient times to recent events, that practically every street showcases beautiful, culturally important elements that, when pieced together over a semester, create a breathtaking tapestry that speaks of history more eloquently than any single class could ever hope to. Our education came from talking with locals and from experiencing history first-hand.

Q: Did you find your background in European history affected how you experienced the semester abroad?

A: Before I studied in Orvieto, I took a Modern European course and a War and Revolution class, and both prepared me for Italian history very well. I have studied European history throughout my college and high school careers, but it was incredible to see my textbook pages come to life when walking through the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. My history classes affected my study abroad experience in that they enhanced my appreciation of every trip we made. Simply being in Italy is phenomenal, but comprehending the depth of walking on 2000-year-old cobblestones made the trip indescribably amazing.

Q: What are you looking forward to during this school year?

A: Catching up with friends that I haven’t seen since fall semester of last year and resuming classes probably top the chart of things I’m looking forward to this year, but Davison food is in a close third place.

Q: You often attend Admissions Open Houses as a history major, which we really appreciate. What do you say to high school students who are thinking about a history major but aren’t sure yet?

A: When I attend the Admissions Open Houses, the first question I get from prospective students is always, “But what if I don’t want to teach?” I think one of the biggest misconceptions surrounding history majors is that you can only become a teacher after college. While that is definitely an excellent option, there are more applications for a history major than you might think. While looking for an internship next semester, I discovered that the FBI is looking for history majors. The critical skills of researching and being able to present your information in a cogent, comprehensive manner is important for a large number of jobs, which is why I recommend taking history classes to anyone unsure of what he or she may want to do for a living. You never know, you just might discover a hidden passion while you’re at it.

Studying History While Studying Abroad, or: How to Visit Cuba Without Breaking the Law

Several of the students we’ve featured on One Thing after Another studied abroad while they were enrolled at Saint Anselm College. And many faculty in the history department have spent considerable time abroad either as undergraduates, in graduate school, or since arriving at Saint Anselm College. Although going abroad is not a requirement for learning about the past, it can influence our historical thinking in important ways. For one thing, spending time abroad can help us to understand the social and cultural conditions that shaped—and were shaped by—a country’s history. Moreover, students who venture outside of the United States have access to resources that we simply don’t have at home: numerous faculty experts who specialize in local history or archives with rare and hard-to-find sources. And there is something about being in a place that changes one’s perspective. It is one thing to read about Versailles, the Berlin Wall, or Tiananmen Square. It is something else entirely to roam the halls where French monarchs lived, see the concrete remnants of the old barrier between East and West Berlin, or gaze upon a public space where a million students protested against oppression and hundreds or thousands died in a military crackdown.

Understanding the value of studying abroad, the history department has organized several study abroad programs in recent years. In 2011 and again in 2013, Professor Masur brought a group of students to Vietnam during winter break. As the students themselves explained, even a rather brief visit to Vietnam profoundly affected their understanding of contemporary Vietnam, the Vietnam War, and Vietnam’s history outside of its conflict with the United States. Professor Perrone had a similar experience when he brought students to China. His program included visits to the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, and the Bund in Shanghai.

Vietnam Study Abroad

Saint Anselm students at the Cu Chi tunnels outside of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The tunnels were used as a base for the National Liberation Front (NLF) during the Vietnam War.

During the spring semester 2015, the history department is planning another exciting short-term study abroad program. As part of Professor Pajakowski and Professor Masur’s team-taught course on the Cold War, students will have the opportunity to participate in a week-long study trip to Cuba during spring break (March 1-March 8). The program in Cuba will supplement in-class material by exploring Cuba’s important role in the U.S.-Soviet rivalry. Students will learn about Castro’s rise to power, Cuba’s alliance with the Soviets, and the tense days of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The program will include an overnight trip to the Bay of Pigs, site of the CIA-orchestrated attempt to unseat Castro in 1961. Students will also gain a greater understanding of current Cuban politics and social and economic conditions in the country.

Cuba Trip 2

 Street Scene, Havana, Cuba

Professors Pajakowski and Masur will have more information about the trip in the next couple of weeks. Students who are interested in the program should plan to enroll in Hi 399: The Cold War in the spring semester. (Note: students will have the option of taking Hi 399 without participating in the Cuba trip.) We are estimating that the program will cost $2,660, not including airfare to Miami, the cost of some meals in Cuba, and spending money. (We will have a more detailed cost breakdown by the end of August).