Short-term study abroad trips have long-lasting memories, lessons
The School of Communication’s short-term study abroad programs are more than a way to quickly earn credits in Chile, London or China while holding an internship back home.
They’re also opportunities to hike the Great Wall of China, run through the streets of London, produce a passion-driven documentary or tour illustrious agencies with a small group of eager peers.
The latter was the highlight for junior AD/PR major Sidney Munch, who traveled to Beijing and Shanghai this past summer for the graduate-level course International Advertising & Branding.
“We really got to be immersed in the culture,” said Munch, 20. “The class was very hands-on in the community, and we were barely in the classroom.”
The China program involved classes in the mornings and afternoon visits to advertising agencies such as BBDO, Publicis and J. Walter Thompson, according to Dr. Pamela Morris, who leads the trip. She said students stay in a hotel near Loyola’s Beijing Center and learn to navigate with the help of a tour guide.
With a project due after the trip and readings assigned beforehand, the schedule left plenty of time to see the Forbidden City, the Olympic Stadium and Tiananmen Square, according to junior advertising major Jessica Jenkner, who took the same course as Munch.
“I felt like we did a lot more tourist attractions than I thought we were going to do, which was a great surprise,” Jenkner said. “We went one day to the Great Wall. That was actually on my birthday … I turned 20 on the Great Wall. So, that’s just something that I’m always going to remember – that was awesome.”
Jenkner said the program prepared her to then spend a semester at Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center. She plans to travel abroad through the SOC again this summer, but this time for the International Public Relations course in London.
“I had such a great experience in China that I’m excited to have that same experience again,” she said. “Even if it’s a different place, it’s still the same concept of getting to know the industry and also being able to see the city.”
Like the course in China, the International Public Relations course in London entails field trips to a handful of public relations agencies, including Weber Shandwick, Zeno Group and Fleishman Hillard, according to Dr. Marjorie Kruvand, who leads the trip.
Ally Spiroff, a graduate student in Loyola’s Digital Media and Storytelling program, took Kruvand’s course this past summer. She confirmed that students actually did “study” abroad, with a few papers to write and a project to finish all in a matter of two weeks.
Some of the students’ learning, however, happened outside the University of London where they lived and took classes; the Brexit vote had just taken place.
“There were so many protests in London because almost everyone in London wanted to remain in the EU. We saw some huge protests in Trafalgar Square,” said Spiroff, 23. “Otherwise, I might have just been lost in a tourism world and [forgotten] that actual people live there.”
Spiroff said the brevity of the trip allowed students to hold jobs and internships back home, but she said she still squeezed in sightseeing by taking runs after classes.
“Through running, I would explore a lot of London,” she said. “I was running on the canals one day, and I found this amazing market. … I have the best memories from doing that and finding interesting places to go through running.”
Students taking the Digital Storytelling course in Santiago, Chile, have a little longer to settle in to their hotel – nearly two and a half weeks – but that time is full of filming.
Jack Curtin, a senior Film and Digital Media major, took the class with professor John Goheen this past summer and produced a documentary about how the remnants of a former dictatorship impacts the Chilean music scene.
“I actually have a video of the best work I’ve done that I’ve taken out of it,” said Curtin, 22, “just proving that I could do a project like this and have an experience like this. … That was one of the best things I took out of the trip was I was like, ‘Oh I could make a legit documentary in a country [where] I don’t speak the language.’”
With newfound confidence in his filmmaking abilities, Curtin said he’s now talking with one of Loyola’s anthropology professors about coordinating a trip to Peru to film a documentary on Incan ruins. The inspiration to pursue the project, he said, came directly from his study abroad experience.
“If any of the reasons for you not going are you don’t think you could really do a class like that or handle an experience like that, you’re going to prove yourself wrong – which is a good thing, which is something you can’t as easily get by just staying in the same place for four years,” Curtin said.
Other students recently returned from a fourth SOC study abroad opportunity that took place in London. That course, The International Language of Creativity, is led by Bob Akers and focuses on the creative side of advertising.
Whichever adventure students choose to embark on, the general consensus of Loyola’s globe trotters is overwhelmingly positive.
“100 percent go,” advised Munch, who took the two-week trip in London and then spent a full year in Rome before her most recent excursion to China. “I don’t know anybody that’s regretted going abroad.”
This summer, COMM 373, Digital Storytelling in Santiago, Chile, will be led by professor Aaron Greer May 12-29; COMM 278, International Public Relations, will run from June 25 to July 8 in London; and the China program COMM 421, Topics in Global Strategic Communication: International Advertising & Branding, is scheduled for July 15-29. The application deadline for those programs is March 15.