Nursing faculty members Melissa McDowell and Lisa Spurgin each spent part of their summer this year experiencing the many benefits of studying abroad on separate and very different trips that spanned a total of seven European countries.
McDowell, an assistant clinical professor, went on a personal study abroad trip as part of her coursework toward a doctorate in education from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. She spent June 6–21 in Europe learning about international education practices, policies, politics, resources and cultures, as well as their implications regarding current education systems in the U.S. Her travels included Belgium, France and Germany, though she spent much of her time at Maastricht University, the Zuyd College of Applied Sciences and the Orbis Medical Center in the Netherlands.
“The faculty of Maastricht University shared problem-based curricula,” McDowell said. “I also had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Marijke van Oppen, who shared her research on cultural competency in the classroom. In the future, I plan to collaborate with Dr. van Oppen to study barriers to student success. Traveling internationally provided insight into the cultural competency required as an educational leader in a global society.”
Some of McDowell’s other experiences included visiting the Anne Frank House and The Hague parliament in the Netherlands, D-Day landing sites in Normandy, and cathedrals and other attractions in Bayeux and Paris, France.
Spurgin, a clinical instructor, was also in Europe at roughly the same time as she led a group of 48 high school students from around West Texas on a cultural learning trip through the People to People Student Ambassador Program.
“This organization was founded in 1956 by President Dwight Eisenhower as a program to travel students internationally to learn about politics and culture and embrace the international interaction,” Spurgin said. “We spent 19 days and went to Italy, Austria, Switzerland and France.”
In addition to visiting the traditional tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum and Notre Dame Cathedral in France and the Roman Colosseum, Vatican and Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, Spurgin and her student group also:
- Toured the Council of Europe
- Made pizza in Italy
- Toured an Austrian tourism school and made apple strudel
- Visited a World War II concentration camp
- Toured a cheese factory in Switzerland
- Helped build a castle using medieval tools in Austria
- Took gondola rides in Venice, Italy
- Spent a 3-day home stay with families in Streyr, Austria
Many of these same types of experiences are available to ASU students through the study abroad trips offered by ASU’s Center for International Studies.