September 19th, 2013 (Jupiter, FL)—
Even when college students have the chance to study abroad, not everyone is able to become immersed in the life and culture of a single city. But at Florida Atlantic University’s Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, study abroad opportunities are a high priority for students and faculty. This focus on giving students the best possible educational experience has enabled students not only to travel to a wide variety of foreign countries, but also to do so with scholarship funding specifically designated for students wishing to study abroad. This summer, Wilkes Honors College’s Kira Geiger, a Henry M. Flagler scholar, capitalized on her opportunity to see the world by spending six weeks in the beautiful city of Venice, Italy.
Towards the end of her junior year, Geiger realized that it was time for her to consider a study abroad program that would be a perfect fit for her interests. “I knew that for my Flagler scholarship, I needed a study abroad that was at least 5 weeks long, so I started looking at the study abroad programs that FAU was offering for the summer,” she says. “The program in Italy just sounded perfect for me.” After applying to the program and going through all of the registration procedures, Geiger packed her bags and left on May 10th, 2013 for the city of Venice, where she would make memories that would last a lifetime.
While living in Italy, Geiger spent her time studying Italian and taking every opportunity to explore the city of Venice and immerse herself in Italian culture. “My professor was actually a native Venetian so she knew everything about the city and set up a ton of great activities for us,” says Geiger. “We visited a bunch of museums, including the private sector of the Doge's palace, went on a great many boat rides, and just generally got to experience the best of Venetian culture.” Geiger was also able to take her explorations outside of the city and get a glimpse of the Italian countryside. Some of her fondest memories were created during trips like these. “My favorite part of my trip was an outing we had one Friday to the Dolomite Mountains. The view was breathtaking, and as we climbed higher in our little bus, it just got better and better,” she describes. “On that day, we also had lunch in a little restaurant up in the mountains which served Austrian cuisine—I was unaware that Venice was influenced so heavily by Austria in the past, so that was a bit surprising.” Throughout her European adventure, Geiger also enjoyed examining the traditions and practices of the Venetian people. As a psychology concentrator, Geiger made it a priority to study not only the Italian scenery, but also the Italians themselves. The trip, she says, “added a little bit of knowledge to my ongoing, casual study of human nature. Italians are a fascinating group of people.”
Now back at the Honors College, Geiger is excited to finish her senior year of her undergraduate experience, and believes that her study abroad will serve her well as she continues her studies. “Learning Italian has inspired me to learn Latin as well,” she says, and thus far her Italian studies have been very helpful in the Latin course in which she enrolled this semester. “It also definitely gave me the travel bug,” she continues. “I would love to do another tour of Europe and see France this time as well.”
Geiger looks forward to graduating from the Honors College and entering graduate school, after which she plans to pursue what she hopes will be an “illustrious psychological career.” She feels than any student who has the chance to study abroad should take advantage of the opportunity. “It was very refreshing to step outside one’s comfort zone and see that not everyone acts in ways we may be accustomed to,” she explains. “Study abroad trips can be expensive and may be stressful to arrange, but the experience is well worth it.”
About Florida Atlantic University: Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of three signature themes – marine and coastal issues, biotechnology and contemporary societal challenges – which provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit www.fau.edu