by Benjamin Middendorf
Royal palaces, a Danish castle and the homes and burial places of celebrated writers: Eleven students visited all these locations and more on the annual London and Europe Study Tour led by Dr. Daniel Thurber from Dec. 26-Jan. 9.
“I’m so convinced that travel is very broadening and deepening,” Thurber said. “The places that we see are of literary, historical and cultural value. Over the years we are always in London, but then I have varied the other cities that we go to.”
This was the 22nd year Thurber has led the tour.
This year, the tour visited Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and the British Museum in London. They traveled to Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon and the town of Bath, as well as Copenhagen and Helsingor in Denmark, and Dublin, Ireland.
“I’ve always wanted to travel, so it seemed like a good opportunity,” sophomore and secondary education major Karle Embretson said. “I was excited to see that it wouldn’t just be about literary sites, but it would be a mix of different interests.”
Thurber tries to make the study tour general enough that a student does not have to be an English major to participate in the trip.
“I also tell the students that we are travelers, not tourists,” Thurber said. “Tourists go and all they’re interested in is kind of checking off to-do lists and buying trinkets to bring home. Travelers take in the experience, and I encourage the students to notice what they are learning about themselves and the larger world in which we live.”
The cost to join the tour is usually around $3,900, although Thurber said travel expenses and particular sites and locations can change this figure. Included in the cost is all transportation throughout the tour, lodging and breakfasts, admission fees and tickets to plays or concerts. Not included are meal expenses for lunch and dinner.
For many students, the study tour was their first experience with international travel.
“I’m just seeing things differently now, because when you travel and go places, you realize there’s so much more out there,” Embretson said. “It’s a journey, so you have to remember that every part of the journey is part of the experience.”
Though many of the days in the itinerary were structured, there was also time for students to explore the cities on their own and search out their own particular interests.
“I encourage them to notice how our Lord is planting seeds in their lives during our journey, which can help prepare them for the ways in which they can minister to the needs of people later on,” Thurber said.