Ben Jacquier Reflections 23 March 2011

Ben Jacquier Reflections 23 March 2011

United States and World War II Europe Study Abroad

With one semester remaining before I graduate from Michigan State, I can look back on the United States and World War II Europe study abroad program as one of the fondest memories that I have of my time in college.  There are not many experiences that could have taught me as much about the world and myself as the month spent with Dr. Charnley and my classmates in Europe.  Many of my friends have participated in other study abroad programs sponsored by Michigan State, but few of them were able to travel to five countries including major cities such as London, Paris, Luxembourg, and Berlin.

Dr. Charnley’s study abroad program provides the perfect balance between classroom learning and freedom for students to explore Europe on their own.  With two weeks of class time taking place before we left the United States, we were able to truly maximize our time abroad.  Rather than lecturing to us in a classroom, all of Dr. Charnley’s lessons were tied to actual sites that we were visiting in the five countries through which we traveled.  We were able to learn unique lessons about the war while visiting the actual locations where events occurred.

By providing us with the freedom to tour Europe at our leisure after his lessons were finished each day, Dr. Charnley sparked my interest in additional trips that I hope to take in the future.  We were treated as adults and allowed to learn the lessons of traveling abroad on our own.  While our classmates and Dr. Charnley were always close by to help us out and provide guidance, each student was able to make the trip what they wanted it to be.

In four weeks I gained a better cultural understanding of the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.  I was able to observe differences in societal norms and day-to-day lifestyles.  Through our class work, I was able to see how these differences had often formed partially as a reaction to the unique experiences of each country during World War II.

For the material that I learned in class, the sites that I was able to witness first-hand, and the relationship that I formed with my classmates, this study abroad program gave me everything that I had hoped for and more.  I would gladly recommend it to any Michigan State student with an interest in World War II, European culture, and/or personal growth.

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