Thursday, May 17, 2007

Study Abroad Report: Jessica Bruce in Europe

Jessica Bruce reports on her study abroad experience (the photo shows Jess in Berlin with a piece of the famous wall):

After four months in Europe, I have returned to the U.S. on Saturday and am beginning the re-adjustment process. Part of this is collecting all of my memories and sending updates to everyone who I promised to stay in touch with (including writing a summary of my experience for the IPE blog).

I spent the semester in Europe with the IES European Union program ( The program is based in Freiburg, Germany, which is within biking distance of both France and Switzerland and is the unofficial capital of the Black Forest (think Hansel and Gretel). Freiburg is a beautiful, quaint city—my first impression was that Disneyland must have been designed based on it. It features a medieval Münster, the original towers from the city wall, several beer gardens, and the Bächle—a network of small streams that run along the city streets (supposedly if you fall in, you will marry a Freiburger—I managed to stay out, however).

About a month of the semester is spent traveling throughout the EU. This occurs mostly through two ten-day trips, one focusing on the institutions of the EU (in Western Europe) and one focusing on new member states (in Eastern Europe). These two trips are packed with lectures at institutions ranging from the Hungarian Parliament to NATO. Though the lectures were rather exhausting, I learned a great deal from them, and I was able to get a personal perspective on many of the issues facing the EU as a result. (I also stood in an elevator with the former president of the EU Parliament and watched German Chancellor Angela Merkel make a red carpet entrance and present Germany’s agenda for its presidency of the European Council.) There are also a few shorter trips, and each class is required to have a field trip (mine: the Freiburg water works, Alsace, Staufen--the city where Faust lived, and a winery in Offenburg). The travel is what drew most students to the program and was certainly the highlight. (You will not find a study abroad program that incorporates more travel.) In all, I visited the following cities as part of my academic experience:

  • Strasbourg, France
  • Colmar, France
  • Geneva, Switzerland
  • Frankfurt, Germany
  • Luxembourg, Luxembourg
  • Paris, France
  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Krakow, Poland
  • Somewhere in Slovakia...
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Riga, Latvia (half the program visited Tallinn, Estonia, instead)

No comments: