Seven of UF’s liberal arts students stepped back onto American soil after spending three weeks studying in London in May. These students,along with Professor Robin Visel, adjunct faculty member, traveled to London as a class to explore London’s culture and conduct individual research projects.
The London Experience was created when Gary Johnson, Ph.D., dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and Chris Sippel, coordinator of international education, decided UF needed a study abroad program in Europe to complement already-established Asian study abroad offerings. Figuring London would be a popular location for a wide range of students, Sippel worked with CAPA International Education, an organization that hosts study abroad and internship opportunities in other countries, to create a three-week program.
Before traveling to London,each student took a required three-credit-hour London Experience course. Students were able to put spring semester financial aid toward the cost of the trip.
The course covered basic outlines of British history, economy, culture and more, while focusing on London’s role. They also studied London’s geography, media and visitor resources.
“The goal was for each student to arrive with an individual itinerary that included both important cultural-historical sites and a research plan,” said Visel.
Students began their research before the trip but conducted most of the research while in London.
“Students could choose any topic connected to their majors in some way,” said Visel. “They chose the alternative music scene, soccer clubs, monuments, museum public relations, — a whole host of imaginative projects that I would never have thought to assign.”
Each student could follow his or
own interests as long as research topic used London’s opportunities and required a physical presence in London to complete. Along with their primary research, they also were required to use academic sources to complete their research.
“The students did find that they had to change their focus based on what they could realistically accomplish in London,” said Visel.
After the trip, the class members were given two weeks to gather additional research that could be obtained through secondary sources.
In addition to tours and sightseeing throughout London, several students took the opportunity to visit Paris and Ireland, attend the Heineken Cup Final and more.
The students who participated will present their research findings in a forum at UF in the fall.
Since the College of Liberal Arts plans to offer other study abroad opportunities that are very similar to the London Experience, the purpose of this type of experience is to further liberal arts studies. Students who enroll in the course should be majors within the College of Liberal Arts and be interested in pursuing an individual research project.
For information on study abroad programs, contact Sippel at email@example.com or 419-434-5467.