By Natalia Asis, Secretary 

UMF graduate Shannah Cotton with Susan Anzivino and Katie Marchesi on her trip to Italy (photo courtesy of Shannah Cotton)

UMF graduate Shannah Cotton with Susan Anzivino and Katie Marchesi on her trip to Italy (photo courtesy of Shannah Cotton)

Kaisha Muchemore in Machu Picchu (photo courtesy of Kaisha Muchemore)

Kaisha Muchemore in Machu Picchu (photo courtesy of Kaisha Muchemore)

Students from the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) have the opportunity to travel abroad in May through the upcoming summer travel courses. The countries students will be visiting include Italy, Peru and Tanzania, among other destinations. This is the first year that Tanzania has been offered as an option for students studying abroad.

Students in the summer travel courses spend a short amount of time, two weeks, in the foreign country studying different aspects of the region while being exposed to a different culture and language. Different assignments such as a research papers or journals are a part of each trip because students receive credit for the course.

Tanzania is the newest destination being offered. The travel course is sponsored by Political Science Professor and Director of International and Global Studies Linda Beck. “This is a unique opportunity and the most affordable way to have a Safari experience in East Africa,” said Beck. “Students will be living in African villages, eating African food; everything will be authentic.”

Some exciting activities in store for the students traveling to Africa include the safari and going to the base of Kilimanjaro. “We will go to a national park in the Serengeti,” said Beck. In the park students will be able to see different kinds of animals in their natural habitats. The park is home to many exotic species, giraffes, lions, elephants, rhinos, zebras, flamingos, and many others. “Kilimanjaro is losing its glacier,” said Beck, while explaining that this will change the ecosystem of the area in the near future.

In Peru students will be exposed to the culture of the Peruvian Andes from prehistoric to modern times. Before her trip UMF alum Kaisha Muchemore had heard that Peru would change her. “I always wondered what they meant and after going on this trip, I know what they mean!” said Muchemore via e-mail. “I expected to see ruins and learn about a culture I had never interacted with before, and the trip definitely exceeded those expectations!”

The trip provides allows to see new places and to connect with people from another culture. “We had the opportunity to visit a rural village in the Andes. They didn’t speak English and lived in simple traditional homes,” said Muchemore. “Although we were so different, they welcomed our group. We shared a meal with them, played games, and despite the language barrier we managed to have such an amazing time. This was one of those experiences that stays with you.”

In Italy, students attend different seminars related to the location and a theme for the program. “I decided to go on a summer travel course because I was in need of extra credits,” said UMF alum Shannah Cotton. “I had the amazing good fortune of financial support from my father for the trip.”

Cotton particularly enjoyed Venice’s classic architecture and picturesque beauty.  “My favorite Italian city we visited was Venice. There was something about the atmosphere there, the little shops down tiny alleyways and beautiful bridge views of gondola on the water, they fill you with a different kind of air you can’t get anywhere else,” said Cotton. “Venice was magic to me!”

Traveling abroad is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about a different culture first hand. “Being able to get credits while travelling somewhere is an amazing deal,” said Muchemore. “Now that I have graduated, I wish I had taken more travel courses!”

Students who have traveled abroad would urge current students to take advantage of these programs while they have the chance. “People should sign up because there is nothing more enriching for one’s life than traveling abroad, said Cotton. “You will never regret it. The world is waiting for you.”