Intellectual Heritage Students Share Their Favorite Parts of Studying Abroad
By: Nick Santangelo
The College of Liberal Arts prepares students for their future lives and careers by exposing them to new perspectives and teaching them how to ask the right questions and think critically about the world around them. For many of our students, experiential learning is one of the best ways to build that skill set. And one of the college’s myriad ways for students to learn outside the classroom is through the Intellectual Heritage Program’s study abroad opportunities.
Intellectual Heritage (IH) began offering study abroad trips four years ago as a way of showing students that questions asked in the curriculum’s texts about societal wellbeing are asked the world over. For instance, Intellectual Heritage II students read Plato’s Republic, and this past summer the program brought 40 students to study in Athens. But the program also took about 25 students to Seoul because, as Assistant Professor and Associate Director for Special Programs Genevieve Amaral explains, the classics can be studied through different lenses in every corner of the globe.
“We can see how those classics are applicable anywhere and can resonate with any culture,” says Dr. Amaral. “By taking literary and philosophical classics on journeys, we discover both new proof of their timelessness and universality and new limits to their explanatory power.”
In their IH classes, adds Associate Professor and Senior Associate Director Doug Greenfield, Temple students are continuing conversations about the human good that have been going on for millennia.
“Taking those conversations abroad—where our assumptions can be challenged every day in new and surprising ways by the lives of others—only enlarges and deepens them,” says Dr. Greenfield.
The destinations vary yearly, with Rome and London having been 2018’s destinations and Prague and Taipei being new additions for 2020. When picking locations, Dr. Amaral says the faculty looks for places where the curriculum will resonate the strongest while also giving students exciting and unique travel opportunities.
I have no words for how great it was
Sophomore Anna Stewart, a psychology major, saw that firsthand when she went to Athens last summer with IH. Stewart hopes to eventually spend an entire semester in Rome. She realized spending four weeks in Athens with IH over the summer and earning a full three credits would both give her a way to visit a country she wanted to see and give her a sense of whether or not an entire semester abroad was feasible.
Looking back, Stewart says the experience was “incredible,” allowing her to learn in small classes that felt to her like the classic vision of academia: small libraries, old buildings and cobblestone streets.
“We'd also sit in these little outdoor cafes and keep talking about the material,” recalls Stewart. “It was very much what I’d pictured studying abroad to be like.”
Stewart was also floored when George Economou, an internationally famous author, came and spoke to the students, tying the themes of his writings back into many of those found in the classics students study in IH.
Sophomore Sruthi Sathya, a global studies major with an environmental studies minor, says her experience studying abroad in Seoul was similarly powerful. Following her morning classes, Sathya got the chance to see real-world applications of the philosophical topics discussed each morning.
“Our reading directly lined up with the places we went to or had discussions around,” says Sathya. “It wasn't like I was randomly given course info. It was very much integrated into where I was in the course.”
Of course, the curriculum is just one part of studying abroad. Finding time to explore a foreign country on your own terms is also integral to the experience.
“I have no words for how great it was,” gushes Sathya. “When I got back, people asked me how was Korea, and it was great. The sounds, the food, the culture—it was the place to go and see.”
And students seem to love IH’s study abroad program no matter where it takes them. Senior and economics major Joe Conroy went on the London trip, and merely hearing about the chance to study there under Dr. Amaral, whose teaching approach Conroy loves, was enough to sell him on the trip.
My favorite part about the experience was the people
Conroy hadn’t spent much time outside the U.S. before going, but he found it easy to get acclimated and felt “very much at home” before long.” While there, he got to see Canterbury and Oxford University, studied feminist literature and took a Karl Marx tour.
“They did a great job of intertwining the classroom part of the experience with the location of London and all the history there is there,” says Conroy.
While in London, Conroy also had the opportunity to form some new and lasting friendships.
“My favorite part about the experience was the people,” he explains, “and all the kind of great friends I made there. I didn't really know anybody going besides the professor, so I had to make friends over there, and the friends I made were the best part of the experience. I brought home so many fun stories of them, and I still hang out with many of them today.”
Email Dr. Amaral at email@example.com to find out what your options are for studying abroad with the Intellectual Heritage Program!