by Jeff Samoray, Published November 11, 2011
For the ultimate learning experience, Rose Branstrom recommends leaving the lecture hall.
Actually, she isn't just talking about leaving the building. She means traveling outside the country.
Branstrom, a junior Public Relations major, enrolled in "Power, Place and Image in Florence and Rome" (HIST 329), an 11-day, Winter Break course offered through Eastern's Academic Programs Abroad office. She not only learned about the culture and society of medieval and Renaissance Italy, she also discovered a love for travel.
"Every student should have this kind of learning experience," she says. "Studying a subject in context beats any textbook. One of the sites we visited was the Baths of Diocletian. I touched the same columns that Michelangelo commissioned. You can't replicate that in a lecture."
"I became the first member of my family to visit Europe since World War II. I kind of wished I had missed my flight home."
EMU Associate Professor of History Ron Delph took the class to a number of historical sites, including the Colosseum, St. Peter's Basilica, Sistine Chapel, the Vatican and its world-class art collection, and other cultural attractions. Prof. Delph's lectures gave students the opportunity to learn about the relationships between architectural manifestations of power and lives of those who exercised social and political power over ordinary citizens.
"Every day, Professor Delph took us to a different location and gave a lecture about the site," says Branstrom, a Presidential Scholarship recipient. "We learned about the Colosseum as we stood inside it. We spent an entire day at the Vatican and saw its gallery filled with amazing sculptures and paintings. I craned my neck with my classmates to see the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I definitely gained a better appreciation for fine art through this trip. Another benefit was forming close friendships with my classmates and a strong student-teacher relationship with my professor."
Branstrom is already planning her next trip abroad. She and a friend will backpack through Germany, the Netherlands and France next summer.
"Traveling abroad makes the world seem more accessible," Branstrom says. "It's amazing to get on a plane and 12 hours later step into a foreign culture where a different language is spoken. It's the kind of experience you'll remember the rest of your life."
For more information about Eastern's international education opportunities, visit the Academic Programs Abroad website or contact the office at 734.487.2424 or 800.777.3541. You can also check out videos of the trip to Italy on the EMU Videos web page.