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Programs take students to Europe, Asia

Travel Study participants stop at the Lion Gate at Mycenae, an ancient Greek archaeological site.

Seminole State College of Florida students, faculty, staff and community members spent their summer in Europe as part of the College's 2010 Travel Study programs.

In May, 28 students and 22 others spent nine days touring Italy and Greece. The group arrived in Italy on May 20 and took in the sights and sounds of Rome, Florence, Sorrento and Pompeii before heading to the Greek cities of Patras, Delphi and Athens.

International Study Program participants Caitlin Jaye, Tatiana Viecco and Andrea Brumbaugh stand in the gardens of the 18th-century Schloss Leopoldskron castle in Salzburg.

Highlights of the trip included tours of Vatican City, the Colosseum, Mount Vesuvius, Accademia Gallery — which houses Michelangelo's David — and the Parthenon.

"Rome was one of my favorite cities," said information technology student David Rodriguez, 18, of Casselberry. "It is just so sophisticated and romantic. There's so much culture everywhere — the city feels alive at all times of the day."

Most travelers, including Rodriguez, opted to lengthen the duration of their trip with a three-day cruise extension package, which began May 28 in Mykonos. Ports of call included the Greek islands of Rhodes and Patmos, as well as the Turkish resort town of Kusadasi.

"The cruise was great," Rodriguez said. "I wasn't really sure what to expect going into it, but I loved every minute. I really enjoyed the relaxed pace and flexibility we were given on the ship."

The Italy/Greece tour was organized by EF Educational Tours. Seminole State Theatre Professor Richard Harmon led the group and taught a corresponding three-credit course.

Also in May, three honors students traveled to Salzburg, Austria, for the Salzburg Global Seminar's weeklong International Study Program.

Tatiana Viecco, Caitlin Jaye and Andrea Brumbaugh, the sixth consecutive group of Seminole State students to attend the seminar, joined scholars from across the United States to complete international projects and learn what it means to be a "global citizen." While there, they attended lectures about constructing world order, global governance systems, international perceptions of America, and thinking globally while acting locally. They also worked in small groups and participated in cultural exchange activities.

Professor Rachel Braaten (second from right) stands with students in front of the Taj Mahal in India.

"Salzburg was one of the best experiences I've had in my entire life," said Viecco, 21, a Colombia native who resides in Winter Springs. "The fact that Seminole State gives you the opportunity to travel abroad and learn from other scholars really opens your eyes and broadens your horizons."

One of the most moving experiences, she added, was a visit to the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial in nearby Germany.

"It was very shocking and touching to be where the Holocaust happened," said the aspiring industrial engineer and 2010 Jack Kent Cooke Scholar. "It is a sight we must always remember if we want to prevent something like that from happening again."

The trip to Salzburg, which took place May 28-June 4, was largely funded by donations from Art Grindle, a longtime Seminole State supporter and the namesake of the College's Art & Phyllis Grindle Honors Institute. English Department Chair Bill Schmidt accompanied the students, who earned three honors credits for completing the seminar.

European Travel Study programs weren't the only study abroad trips this year. In March, 10 people — including four students — spent the College's Spring Break in India, where they explored several cities, villages, palaces, mosques and tombs. The group also experienced an elephant ride in Jaipur, a rickshaw bicycle ride through Delhi and a tour of the Taj Mahal in Agra.

"After we visited the Taj Mahal, I sat on a ledge and just stared," said accounting student Cathy Arce, of Casselberry. "I was trying to imprint the image in my mind because I knew no picture could capture it. It was amazing."

Students say they were surprised to discover that a poverty-stricken country like India could be so beautiful and harbor such a strong religious culture.

"What got to me was the rich history and heritage that coexisted with the poverty," said Esteban Andrade, 20, an aspiring electrical engineer who hails from Ecuador and lives in Altamonte Springs. "The whole country is built on religion and tradition. It was really inspiring to see how it affects every facet of people's lives."

Like Italy and Greece, the trip to India was organized by EF Educational Tours. Seminole State Humanities Professor Rachel Braaten led the group's day-to-day activities and facilitated the optional, three-credit course.

Plans are already under way for Seminole State's 2011 Travel Study programs, which feature excursions to Spain, Egypt and Southeast Asia. For more information, visit the Study Abroad website.

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