For anyone who has gone abroad--for vacation, for school, for research--the experience can be life-changing. The immersion in a different culture, the interesting people, and the opportunity to be a part of something out of the ordinary day-to-day can help shape a person in ways he or she never imagined.
Our guest blogger, Marguerite Madden, who will be a sophomore Integrated Marketing Communications and Economics double major in Fall 2015, shares with us her memorable experience of this course and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Thank you, Marguerite, for taking time out of your summer plans to tell us about your time abroad!
"Just a few weeks ago, I returned home from a trip of a lifetime with friendships and memories that I will hold onto for years to come. Fortunately for me, I have been lucky to travel abroad to other countries starting at the young age of 6 months. I have family who live overseas, and that has always served as a good excuse for my parents and me to go to Europe once every several years. Having just finished my freshman year at Duquesne, however, I had never had the opportunity before this year to study abroad. From the moment I kissed my mom and dad goodbye at the airport, my experience in Europe this time around was completely different from any trip I have taken before.
'...[W]e were able to take full advantage
of our time abroad
and gain an education
that was much more beneficial
than if we were to simply learn it
in a classroom at Duquesne.'
"The purpose of our trip was to commemorate and study some of the World War I events that took place 100 years ago. As we traveled through England, Belgium, and France, we were exposed to parts of history that are seldom seen and often under appreciated. Without sounding cliché, there were so many wonderful aspects of our trip that it was hard to choose one to write this post about. When I was trying to think of a similarity that each one of my favorite moments had in common, I found myself always going back to the friendships among the students and professors that were formed on the trip. Whether it was touring Westminster as a group before any of us recovered from the severe jet lag, or participating in the Last Post ceremony in Ypres, Belgium, each and every cultural and educational experience we shared was a different bonding experience that tied our whole group closer together.
|Students Jill Purcell, Andrew Donnelly, and Marguerite Madden lay the wreath at the Menin Gate memorial during the Last Post Ceremony in Ypres, Belgium.|
|Animals In War Memorial, near Hyde Park, London. Shane Myers – shown here taking a photo of the Memorial - is one of our students. The monument commemorates animal service and suffering in many conflicts.|
"While some of us were interested in the beauty of the architecture and landscapes, others were interested in the historical aspects of the trip. Regardless of our various interests, however, we were all joined together as we paid our respects and gave our remembrance to the lives lost of soldiers from many backgrounds and nationalities.
"On one of our tour days in Belgium, our guide took us to the Langemark German Military Cemetery. Established in 1915, this grave site is the only World War I German cemetery that exists in Belgium. As our guide told us details about the various parts of the cemetery, he called our attention to a piece of land that was no bigger than a tennis court. To everyone’s shock, the single piece of land held the bodies of 24,917 German soldiers. For the majority of our group, the horror of the Great War was felt more in this small plot of land than at any other point in our travels. Together, our group was able to reflect on the great tragedies that were a result of the war and the sorrows the war brought upon the soldiers and their loved ones.
|Langemark German Military Cemetary|
|Tyne Cot Cemetery, Zonnebeke, near Ypres, Belgium - nearly 12,000 burials and its memorial monument commemorating the approximately 35,000 servicemen from the United Kingdom and New Zealand who died in the Ypres Salient after 16 August 1917 and whose graves are not known. It is the largest Commonwealth military cemetery in the world, for any war.|
|The Smell of War exhibition by smell artist Peter De Cupere to commemorate the first en masse use of poison gas as a weapon of war during the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915.|
"Not all of our bonding experiences throughout the trip dealt with the tragedies of World War I, however. There were many other adventures that brought our group together such as touring the Palace of Versailles, seeing the famous play War Horse at New London Theatre, and my personal favorite, eating the regional food from all three countries we visited.
|View taken from the Ypres (Belgium) rebuilt medieval Cloth Hall Bell Tower over Ypres town and the WWI Ypres Salient. Ypres was completely destroyed in World War I, and the current “medieval” town was rebuilt in the 1920s as closely as possible to the way it was before WWI. The Cloth Hall now serves as the “In Flanders Fields Museum.”|
|No trip to Paris is complete without a selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower.|
"Having the privilege to travel overseas and experience the different cultures of countries is never an opportunity that should go unappreciated. With the help of our professors, we were able to take full advantage of our time abroad and gain an education that was much more beneficial than if we were to simply learn it in a classroom at Duquesne. In spite of our different majors, ages, and backgrounds, each and every one of us formed new friendships that we’ll carry with us when we return to Duquesne in a few short months. When I study abroad in the future, I can only hope that my next trip will be as educational and memorable as this one."