Photo courtesy of Study Tour Students
By Hannah Birtell
During Christmas break, Thurber led 16 students and fellow faculty members on a 17 day trip to Europe.
The group visited London, England; Budapest, Hungary; Prague, Czech Republic; and Delft, and Amsterdam in the Netherlands this year.
“I chose these cities because over the years I have led this study tour, these seem to be the most popular among the students that I took,” Thurber said. “This is kind of a silver anniversary tour, so I wanted to have us visit the cities that had proved to be very popular with the students in previous groups.”
They always begin in London and branch out to various cities from there.
“I try to have a balance between the places I want to show them as a group and then time for small group exploration in twos and threes and fours,” Thurber said.
Some of Thurber’s favorite sites from this year’s trip was the new Globe Theatre, which is the same size as Shakespeare’s original Globe Theatre, the Hungarian Parliament, and Prague Castle, the largest castle in Europe. The group does not just visit large tourist attractions, though. They also see local neighborhoods.
“I also try to take them to the real neighborhoods, the byways and highways where actual people live and see how they live their lives,” Thurber said.
Students enjoyed getting to see the smaller neighborhoods and communities around the bigger cities they visited. For some of them, it was even one highlight of the trip.
“We went to this little village outside of Amsterdam called Delft,” junior Alyssa Bierwagen said. “That was probably a highlight, just being away from the business of the big city and getting to see an actual Dutch village. It was just quiet, and it had everything you would expect to be in the Netherlands.”
Students experienced many cultural differences in the countries they visited, but they also found unexpected similarities.
“We all live in different places, but we’re all human, and down to the core, it’s pretty similar,” sophomore Abigail DeLoach said.
Pictures of European cities can easily be accessed online, but students emphasized that just seeing pictures on a screen cannot substitute for actually experiencing the cultural differences for yourself.
“People should go on this trip because it is just an incredible experience, like you get to experience cultures that are so different than yours, and just get to see firsthand the way people may do something differently,” junior Madison Beran said. “I feel like in America we think that we do things the right way, but there is different ways to do things, and you are never going to get to experience that cultural difference if you don’t go out of the country and actually experience it.”