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Honors-oriented study abroad

VSU offers students many opportunities to expand their minds and study abroad.

One such student, Chelsie Norton, a senior math and middle grades education major, is excited to study abroad in Germany this summer with the Honors College.

Participants will be traveling to Germany, the Swiss Alps, Liechtenstein, Dachau, Neuschwanstein Castle and the Heidelberg Castle wine barrel.

According to Norton, the only time she has ever been out of the country was when she went to Canada. Like any student, Norton is dealing with the normal butterflies that accompany travelling.

Norton is a very active student in the Honors College and is looking forward to spending this study abroad with the close-knit Honors family.

This is the first time that a study abroad is specifically Honors oriented. The trip will take place from June 3-13, and is limited to Honors students and mass media majors.

Mike Savoie, interim dean of the Honors College, Dr. Charles Johnson, an Honors history professor and Marie Elliott, a mass media professor, are organizing the trip.  Dr. Johnson is a German historian and is in charge of the experience.

The total cost of the trip is $3,310. The price includes everything except tuition and spending money for the students. Students are able to set up monthly payments through EF Tours.

Applications for the trip must be accompanied with $100 to ensure a student’s commitment to the program. The application price will increase $50 after Dec. 15.

Although no deadline has been set, Savoie said he would like students to sign up as soon as possible.

As part of the Honors College curriculum, an Honors student must complete a global requirement, which is fulfilled by taking nine hours of a foreign language, studying abroad or an approved alternative.

Honors classes being offered on the trip are Honors 1990, Honors 3999 and Honors 3330. Respectively, those classes are the introductory Honors class, the research methods class and the Honors option.

Other classes being offered include world civilizations history and Germanic castles and cultures. A mass media workshop class is offered as well.

The Honors option allows students to make a non-Honors class an Honors class by completing a contract with the professor declaring a project that will exceed regular class requirements.

“If students have a requirement outside of that, that we can accommodate, then we will,” Savoie said. “We’ll do a direct study for another area-if we are capable of doing it.”

The study abroad aims to have 30 students participate. While the study abroad is primarily focused on Honors classes and students, there is no limit to how many mass media majors may go.

“Any opportunity to hone our craft, especially abroad, is great,” Elliot said.

“You’re going to be seeing post-card picture small towns and medieval cities,” Dr. Johnson said.

Amber Blocker, Honors student and junior biology major, said the Honors study abroad is a great concept.

However, she thinks that two weeks isn’t enough time for the students to get adjusted to the areas before they have to pack up and move to the next destination.

“I think that it’s a really good idea, but I feel it’s going to be exhausting,” Blocker said.

Norton thinks that two weeks is plenty of time for the students to see everything.

“I think two weeks is honestly enough time to see what we want to see,” Norton said. “I think after a while we’d start to get homesick and frazzled.”

The Honors College has held two informational meetings to discuss different aspects of the trip.

On Nov. 1 Dr. Johnson, Savoie and Elliott answered questions and showed documentaries to about 20 interested students.

“Going on the trip shows that besides being a fantastic student, you’re culturally diverse,” Dr. Johnson said.

A major point of interest during this meeting was the cost of the trip.

According to Savoie, he and Dr. Johnson are dealing with how to fund scholarships. HOPE will only cover tuition.

“I don’t mind going into debt for it, but I’d rather it be as little as possible,” Courtney Chikas, a junior mass media major, said

On Nov. 12, the three professors talked to a smaller group about the practicalities of the trip. Some items discussed were how to pack, understanding the exchange rate and registering for classes.  Students who had already committed to the trip were the main audience.

The academic logistics and professors’ compensations are being handled by the International Programs. EF Tours is handling the rest of the logistics, such as lodging and booking tours.

This is the first time that a study abroad at VSU is being managed by a private company.

“We’re a pilot,” Savoie said. “Nobody else has done this yet. So, if it works, it may be a good model for the rest of our programs to sort of adapt to.”

Norton is eager for the Honors students and mass media students to get to know each other.

“It might be kind of weird the first few days,” Norton said.  “I feel like we might be two separate groups until we start to mingle.”

Norton expects the trip to be a success. She said she can’t wait for June to arrive, so she can spend part of her summer in Europe.

Students interested in going should contact the Honors College immediately.  Students may stop by the Honors House, located on the corner of Georgia and Oak, or email the Honors College at honors@valdosta.edu.

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