ORIGINALLY POSTED 07/15/2017
From the ice caps of Antarctica to the secluded lakes of Canada, the coffee business in China to the highest court in Spain, Roadrunners are turning distant locales into classrooms. In the most recent academic year alone, UTSA faculty conducted programs in a dozen countries and more than 500 students studied abroad—with access to every country around the globe.
“International education and exchange is key to student success at UTSA,” says René Zenteno, vice provost for international initiatives and senior international officer. “Students who participate in the study abroad program are not only more likely to graduate in four years but also more prepared to compete in the global workforce. Comprehensive internationalization helps students in their chosen careers, no matter what that career might be.”
To showcase their varied experiences—and to inspire discovery and wanderlust for other Roadrunners—Sombrilla Magazine, with the help of UTSA’s Education Abroad Services, asked students and faculty to share their top reasons to live, learn, and explore abroad. Dive into study abroad possibilities by visiting UTSA’s International Gateway.
Ph.D. student Samantha Voelker was in Uruguay as part of the College of Business International Immersion Program when her group was surprised by a street performer. She says, “It was a cloudy day in Colonia del Sacramento, a coastal town on the Rio de La Plata, which separates Uruguay from Argentina. We were having a lovely time exploring when we encountered this performer reciting sonnets for the crowd. I snapped my photo just as he blew a kiss at me. It was unexpectedly sweet.”
Witness one of Shakespeare’s plays at the Globe Theatre. Make a pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral, just like Chaucer’s characters. See the Elgin Marbles, which inspired Keats’ poetry. Retrace the steps of Charles Dickens and Virginia Woolf. All of these adventures are part of the Literature in London program.
Not every New Year starts on January 1. Parades ring in the Chinese New Year, including one of Hong Kong’s biggest night parades.
One of Japan’s largest Buddhist temples—the Todai-ji in Nara—just happens to be a stop for students studying through a program hosted by the Honors College and East Asia Institute.
Partner institutions and third-party affiliates allow UTSA students to have dozens of options from diverse courses and internships to service learning, including the CEA Rome Center, within walking distance of Vatican City, the smallest sovereign state in the world. In between classes? Take in the colorful-pantaloons-wearing but lethal Swiss Guards, who since 1506 have protected the pope, the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church. If you’re a foodie, stop by the Trionfale Market, a local favorite, and just a few kilometers away from the Vatican.
Ah, Paris. The City of Light. The Eiffel Tower. Notre-Dame Cathedral. The remains of more than 6 million people that line tunnels running beneath the city. Whether you are into history or horror movies, the Catacombs of Paris offer an intriguing look at both. The catacombs are former mines converted in the 1700s to hold remains from overflowing cemeteries; in 2014 they served as the set for the movie As Above, So Below.
Different locations mean more creative puns. And if that isn’t enough of a reason, head to the Louvre to see some of the world’s most famous paintings, including the Mona Lisa. No remains necessary.
Because it’s not always about work. Check out some of the scenic shores visited by Roadrunners Tanita Wiley ’13, Siddhesh Phaterpekar M.S. ’16, civil engineering student Ilse Malagamba, and Guillermo Hernandez ’15.
Geological sciences professor Stephen Ackley has been studying sea ice in Antarctica for more than 30 years and even has an icy point on the continent named after him. He’s led several expeditions of UTSA students and faculty to the Arctic, Antarctic, and a Mexican glacier. In October 2016 geological sciences professor Hongjie Xie and graduate student Liuxi Tianto also traveled to Antarctica. Ute Kaden took these photos in 2006 during Ackley’s first trip as a UTSA faculty member. Kaden was a Brownsville teacher who used what she learned to enrich her class. Sombrilla Magazine covered the trip at the time.
As a criminal justice graduate student, Nishita Maliek ’17 has taken study abroad experiences in Spain, where she gained some insight on her planned career: “There is a garden in the middle of the supreme court in Madrid to give workers, lawyers, judges, etc., a place to relax and gain peace of mind. To remind them that work is not the only factor in life and that it is OK to take a break and smell the roses. Although studying criminology is commonly seen as training to be a public servant, it is important to also take care of your own well-being. This is important not only for personal benefits but to remind you of what you love to do, and you will do it happily rather than dread the job.”
Explore international business with College of Business Immersion: Cuba, to see the once-in-a-lifetime first steps of an opening economy and consider why so many U.S. businesses want to do business there. Trips include exposure to legacy and developing industries. City visits include Havana, Cienfuegos, and Trinidad. There’s also a visit to Finca Vigía, the Ernest Hemingway home restored with the help of UTSA architecture professor William Dupont.
Health and the Environment, launched for Summer 2017, explores infectious disease, environmental change, and risk perception through research and service learning in San Antonio; South Padre Island/Brownsville; and Guadalajara, Mexico. Anthropology professors Michael Muehlenbein and Jill Fleuriet combine their academic passions for public health and infectious disease transmission to dive into two research topics—risk perception of pregnancy and the Zika virus, as well as disease risk and primate-based tourism. “My research abroad focuses on understanding the risk factors for infectious disease transmission from wildlife to human populations,” Muehlenbein says. “This includes those viruses and protozoa that can be exchanged between humans, monkeys, and apes, particularly within the context of travel and ecotourism. Different people travel to different regions for different reasons, and we are trying to detect some of the cultural variation in peoples’ motivations to have risky exposures to endangered species, in addition to the actual consequences for disease transmission.” Research and service learning sites will include zoos and wildlife rehabilitation centers or sanctuaries.
Watch the Sydney Opera House transform with the work of Australian indigenous artists. Each summer, for almost a decade now, the sails of the famed structure are used as a canvas for the Vivid Live video production with accompanying music.
English and classics major Bianca Pulido traveled to Redondo, Portugal, for archaeological field school. In her blog she explains a daily schedule, including pottery washing: “On a typical day we’ll put on music, sit around our buckets, and discuss pottery or classical history, so I definitely look forward to the relaxed environment. My only suggestion is that you don’t shower before pottery washing because the chances of getting extremely wet and dirty are pretty high.”
Something to finally write home about! Top scholar and biology student Bharath Ram used humor (and yes, puns, thanks to his sister’s creative titles) to chronicle his time traveling alone in France and England before joining his classmates to study ancient classical civilizations in Italy. His best advice for travelers going it alone? Have a plan but be flexible. This is something he learned in Paris when the city experienced the worst flooding in more than 30 years. He had to switch up his schedule and many places were closed, but he still enjoyed some great sites.
Anthropology doctoral student Lydia Light has spent hours upon hours watching gibbons in the forests of Thailand. Her research looks at how gibbons change their behavior to cope with harsh ecological conditions. “Almost all primates are threatened with possible extinction, most often because of human actions,” she says.
By conducting research in Thailand, Light hopes to use her data to inform conservation policies and help alleviate some of the tension between marginalized people and powerful conservation organizations. She’s been awarded the American Dissertation Fellowship from the American Association of University Women to continue her studies.
In these videos, a male and female gibbon communicate with each other using a call-and-response technique. If you look closely, you can see in the second video, one of the adult gibbons holds a baby.
“We used to think that gibbons mated for life because they were often seen demonstrating the Western ideal of true monogamy,” Light explains, “but research has now demonstrated that gibbon pairs are not lifelong mates. Some individuals will unpair and later pair up again with a different mate, and some individuals look for mating opportunities with individuals other than their pair mate. Yet these behaviors seem to vary greatly between individuals. My research examines the ecological factors influencing gibbon behavior and considers how ecological differences might influence mating and social behaviors.”
Say hi to Frodo, resist the power of the ring, and sing a tale of adventure. Or just pose in front of Hobbit houses during a Lord of the Rings movie set tour in New Zealand.
“There is a world out there waiting for you, so go chase after it!” Salma Mendez Gomez ’16 racked up a whopping five study abroad excursions in her years at UTSA, picking up a wealth of experiences.
“My favorite memories,” she says, “include Mass by Pope Francis in Vatican City after roaming Rome, a talent show by UTSA and Chinese students at Beijing Normal University after climbing the Great Wall of China, my birthday raclette dinner at home with my French host family in Paris, and being a French-Spanish start-up intern in a business incubator in Madrid.”
“Most recently, studying abroad in Japan was a journey into the intertwined world of tradition and modernism. In Kyoto we gained an understanding of Zen Buddhism from its temples and shrines, we explored the historic Arashiyama mountainside through its bamboo grove and monkey forest, and spent time in its geisha district discovering Japanese delicacies in the high-end restaurants that line the streets. In Tokyo we attended a sumo tournament, participated in a beautiful Japanese tea ceremony, and rose at the crack of dawn for a sushi breakfast in Tsukiji fish market. We also learned through lectures and gift exchanges that the formality of their culture is all part of a very welcoming and international-minded society.”
Marvel at the old and new, the secular and sacred, and the everyday. From one country to the next, magnificent architectural structures are a feast for the eyes and have served as inspiration to designers who've transported styles across cultures.
Nearly 700 years of history, culture, art, and architecture await students in Urbino, Italy, where for years UTSA’s College of Architecture, Construction and Planning and the College of Liberal and Fine Arts have been partnering with the University of Urbino. But this year, for the first time, Urbino became a triple threat with students from the College of Engineering’s civil engineering department working with architecture and construction students on their senior design projects.
As a UTSA civil engineering student, Carla Martinez ‘17 was the first undocumented immigrant at UTSA to study abroad through a 2012 executive order, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It includes a provision to authorize eligible applicants, like Martinez, to travel outside the U.S. and reenter legally.
“I started college in August 2012, and at the time I did not know what this new law entailed,” Martinez says, “so I did not think that studying abroad would be a possibility for me. Being a first-generation college student, I was overwhelmed adjusting to a completely new life as a college student in a new city with new people and ideas. Perseverance was the key to seeking different options, and getting to travel was one of my many dreams, even if it was throughout the United States. As if time could not have been more perfect, studying abroad was offered for the first time through the College of Engineering program to civil engineering students like me. I knew there were potential challenges that would come about in being the first undocumented student at UTSA to study abroad. Throughout my journey, though, I was fortunate to have friends and family who were very encouraging and supportive of my dream.”
When King Ludwig II of Bavaria decided he’d had enough of public life in the late 1800s he built a castle on a mountaintop. Seven weeks after his death, the doors of Neuschwanstein Castle opened, and now nearly 1.4 million people, including Roadrunners, visit the tourist destination in Germany near the Austrian border.
Yes, this is a thing. How could we leave out jumping-in-the-air photos of ’Runners studying abroad! Be it on a beach, an overlook with magnificent view, or a narrow cobblestone alley, any spot works great as a backdrop for celebrating with fellow students.
Just do it. Let your inner child or geek shine. Take that touristy photo—even if so many others have done it before you. Better to live with the memories than possible regrets. Let Bharath Ram and Salma Mendez Gomez '16 show you how.
Because everyone and every place has a story—even though you may never discover what it is. There's mystique and beauty in an unexpected moment on an adventure that opens the mind to completely new worlds.
“I’ve been to Mexico several times and never looked at it this way. I think this course made me more culturally sensitive,” says Samantha Mendoza, a public health major who is premed and traveled to Mexico as part of the cross-cultural medicine program. Mexico has become a strategic focus for UTSA and launched eight faculty-led programs in 2016 with 104 student participants.
Whether it's soccer or football or futbol where you're exploring, 250 million athletes in more than 200 countries make the game the world's most popular sport, even for the casual street or park field player. So a conversation about favorite teams is a great jumping off point for conversation with the local populace. Even one hanging from a light post.
Maybe you’ll find enlightenment in Tibet; maybe not. But what does it matter when you can enjoy the amazing view and hang out with a chill yak. (But it won’t talk back.)
“Visiting and working at the sites in person through UTSA’s Belize Summer Field School in Archaeology provides insights that simply cannot be taught in a classroom environment, both about the ancient Maya and archaeological field methods,” says Zoe Rawski. A doctoral student, Rawski has studied in Belize under professor Kathryn Brown for multiple summers. “Through my work in Belize, I have also been able to gain new perspectives on the impact of archaeological research on local communities.”
In early 2017, Rawski received a National Geographic Young Explorers grant for her research in Belize.
The Sahara Desert may not be the first destination that comes to mind for a Semester at Sea program, but Taylor Buchanan ’17 visited 15 countries in one semester, including an excursion to the African desert. He took a public health course and visited hospitals in Ghana. He learned traditional Indian cuisine from a famous chef in India and rode camels through the Sahara. Music professor Mark Brill was also on this voyage with Buchanan, interacting with scholars and hundreds of students from around the world.
This alpaca pun was brought to you in part by UTSA doctoral student Lynn Kim M.S. ’09, who took the photo while conducting research in Bolivia’s Charazani district.
Oh, Canada! The neighboring nation to our north gets a lot jokes poked at it for its laidback attitude, but with such relaxing sites as Emerald and Peyto lakes, turning off and tuning out is easy. And once you're soaking in the beauty and serenity, you might just get a sense of why the country is truly idyllic.
UTSA Volleyball players from Eastern Europe got to visit their homeland when the team traveled there for tournaments. Antonela Jularic’s family were introduced to her teammates when they played in Croatia. The players were highlighted by the San Antonio Express-News in a story in which player Dajana Boskovic ’17 talked about what it meant to have her teammates see her home country: “I was happy they got to meet our families. I’m sure that they learned a lot about Europe and our culture. I think now they can understand our side of the story, because before they did not know how we lived there.”
Being a student globetrotter provides the opportunity to experience foods in their native setting—like sushi or noodles in Japan—or simply with a different cultural perspective. Some Japanese tea or a cup of Italian coffee, anyone?
A burgeoning coffee scene attracted Christopher Brown ’17 to China, where he learned about Chinese youth creating, building, and managing their own coffee shops, including those at Amy’s Coffee in Xi’An, a city of 8.5 million and about five hours away from Beijing. The owner of Amy’s even let Brown work there for a bit. During his senior year as an anthropology student, Brown traveled to China through a program with UTSA’s East Asia Institute.
Eat your heart out, Kentucky Derby. The Palio in Siena, Italy, is a truly historic horse race that dates back to the 1600s. Twice a year more than 60,000 people crowd into Siena's historic square to watch horses from 10 different neighborhoods compete in the race.
Covered in gold leaf and more than 150 feet long, the Reclining Buddha statue is housed at Wat Pho, a temple complex in Bangkok. Visitors to Thailand describe the Temple of the Reclining Buddha as a must-see.
The archways of the walled city of Castiglion Fiorentino in eastern Tuscany offer a medieval perspective on architecture. It’s one of the many reasons Italy is a top study abroad destination, especially for architecture students like Mitchell Oviatt ’12, who shot this photo during his time there.
Introducing the world to Rowdy is its own reward, and no one does it better than trekkers on College of Business international programs. From Finland to Russia, India, and China, Rowdy has visited them all.
Come on. You know you want to. There will be a moment. In an amazing spot. And you're going to get an overwhelming sense of connection—to the place, to your experiences, to your memories that are currently being filed away mentally. And all of that will link back home to UTSA; you're a world traveler. So do it. Share your Roadrunner pride for the world to see. But make sure you get someone to snap a pic of you doing it!