While J-term may be no more, over fifty students and faculty were lucky enough to escape the Erie snow and travel to places like Greece, Italy, Ireland, Guyana, France, Germany and Switzerland.
150 students enjoyed seeing new places and experiencing different cultures all while keeping their noses in the books. Though J-term is only a few weeks long, students who went on each trip say they made the best of those few weeks.
“Studying abroad is something I think everyone should do at some point. I went to Italy and Greece, and the trip was filled with a lot of great food, cool adventures and wonderful people,” said Katie Appell, a sophomore on the water polo team.
“My favorite memory is hard to pick, because we made so many, but I probably most enjoyed our spontaneous decision to book a 40 euro flight to Santorini, a Greek island, and spend the day exploring the small, but very beautiful, island.”
Appell notes another perk to studying abroad.
“I also think it was great to be able to get to know professors better and see first-hand what they are passionate about,” Appell said.
Assistant Professor of Communication James Lohrey went to Ireland over J-term and taught a documentary video production class about the Sisters of Mercy. The classes’ documentary will be screened on campus and will be open to all students in the upcoming weeks. Lohrey agrees that he got to know the students a lot better while traveling abroad than he would have if he had taught the class at Mercyhurst.
“It was definitely an experience, and there was a lot of bonding. From the bus ride to the airport and the plane ride over to just doing stuff over there. We did a lot of walking around and touring different places,” said Lohrey.
“I felt more engaged with students just because I saw them a lot more and it’s not just a strict Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday, Thursday class. I saw them every single day, all day long. We went to dinners together and we saw movies together at the theatre. It was really fun and it definitely felt like a family.”
Though Lohrey was sick the entire time he was in Ireland, he still enjoyed his time spent abroad and made some unforgettable memories.
“One of our first days there, we did some touring of Dublin and we actually went to Croke Stadium, the third largest stadium in Europe, where they do hurling and other sports we don’t do here. They also have huge concerts there as well. It holds upwards of 80,000 people and it was fascinating because we got a behind-the-scenes look at the stadium, like we went into the locker rooms and the suites,” Lohrey said.
Olivia Brandow, a sophomore Integrated Marketing Communications major, went to Ireland with Lohrey.
“It’s a great chance to go and discover the day-to-day life of another culture and see its beauty. There is so much out there outside of the U.S. that I think everyone should get the chance to see. I can’t wait to travel again and I highly recommend it because it’s an adventure you’ll never forget,” Brandow said.
Other students who studied abroad agreed that their experiences were unforgettable.
“My study abroad trip to Switzerland, Germany and France was easily the best trip I’ve ever been on. I went into the trip knowing one person and now I have about 15 new friends. My favorite part of the trip was getting to know all the other students and being able to hang out with them in each city we went to,” said junior John Eskind.
“I would definitely do it again if I had the opportunity to. For sure, the best experience at Mercyhurst for me.”
Maggie Switzer is a senior social work major who traveled to Guyana, South America as a trip through the social work department.
“Some of my favorite memories were bonding with the group of students on the trip because I felt like we all went through an incredible experience together.
I learned a lot about the culture in Guyana and about international service in general, which really helps me because I have applied to the Peace Corps and other programs and want to continue helping people on a global scale.”
As a whole, Mercyhurst students and faculty greatly enjoyed their time outside the United States and collectively agree that their experiences were unforgettable.
“I would definitely go back in a heartbeat, it was definitely the best experience I’ve had at Mercyhurst and something I’ll remember the rest of my life,” said Paige O’Neil, a junior who went to Italy and Greece.
Though Mercyhurst will not have a J-term next year, the opportunity to study around the world is still open for anyone who wants to explore for an entire semester. Studying abroad is a different experience, and a good one.
“[Studying abroad is] much more relaxed, and it’s much more free, I think. You basically can tailor towards the students’ needs and also to whatever course you’re teaching abroad. So, it’s not as structured as it would be if you were teaching in a classroom at Mercyhurst,” Lohrey said.