To some students, summer is a time for drinking lemonade by the pool. For students like Renata Filler, summer means exploration.
Last summer, Filler traveled to Russia with the UC Davis Summer Abroad Program, which offers 40 study abroad programs taught by faculty in 28 different countries, including South Africa, Argentina, Japan and France.
Currently 32 programs remain open for registration. The final date to apply for all programs is Apr. 3.
“It’s really important to go abroad, [to] have something to compare your own [culture] to,” said Filler, a sophomore communication major.
The programs require that each participant be at least 18 years old, have taken at least 12 units of coursework and maintained at least a C average. Participants are selected on a first-come, first-served basis.
Eligible students can apply for financial aid to help cover a portion of the fees; scholarships are also available.
Some individual programs offer scholarship assistance, with deadlines often before the final application deadline of Apr. 3.
For the first time this year, the Summer Abroad Program presents “Music and Culture: From Sitar to Bollywood,” taught in Mumbai, India. Also returning this year are “Australia: Urban to Outback: Identity, Nature and Culture” and “St. Petersburg: Birth and Rebirth.” All three and many others are still accepting applications.
Ride a camel into the sunset
“It’s absolutely beautiful,” said Kristen Cox, recalling the camel ride she took along the beach of the Indian Ocean. Cox, who graduated in 2008 with a B.S. in animal science, participated in the “Australia: Urban to Outback: Identity, Nature and Culture” program taught by Eric Schroeder in 2007.
The program begins in Melbourne, Australia, where students stay in University of Melbourne lodging. Here, students participate in a variety of day trips as well as classroom activities aimed at expanding understanding of Australian culture.
“[Schroeder] was an amazing teacher,” Cox said. “By the time three weeks were up, I didn’t know what else I could do, we had done so much.“
The classwork, which fulfills the ENL 139 World Literatures in English credit, includes reading short novels as well as watching weekly film screenings.
During the four-week program students travel into the Australian wilderness, visiting attractions such as Kakadu National Park, Wilsons Promontory National Park and Phillip Island Nature Park.
“Kakadu is a little like Yosemite and Yellowstone rolled into one,” said Schroeder, who is also the director of the UC Davis Summer Abroad Program.
These trips satisfy the other course credit, NAC 198 Directed Group Study.
For Sam Hammer-Nahman, the fact that Australia is an English-speaking country helped him select the program.
“[I] really wanted to go somewhere abroad and I didn’t want to learn a language,” said Hammer-Nahman, a senior exercise biology major.
This year, the program is scheduled to run from July 4 to July 31, with a maximum enrollment of 24 participants. The total fee for UC students is $5,847 and $6,407 for non-UC students. To help cover these fees, the program offers two International Education Travel Awards of $500 each.
“If I had the opportunity, I would go back in a heartbeat,” Cox said.
Follow in Dostoevsky’s footsteps
It’s like reliving a novel.
Participants in the “St. Petersburg: Birth and Rebirth” program toured places in the city that appeared in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel, Crime and Punishment.
“At first it was really weird, [the places] were real,” said Filler, who traveled to the Russian Federation in 2008.
During the program, students live in St. Petersburg while reading, discussing and exploring its history.
“[The trip is] a nice ease into Russian culture,” said Antonina Shapovalova, third year international relations major who participated in the 2008 program.
In addition to organized excursions to places such as Peter the Great’s palace and places significant to the Russian Revolution, participants also visited soccer games, the Russian ballet and the State Hermitage Museum.
Both Filler and Shapovalova recalled the intensity of the fans at the soccer game.
“The people were completely nuts,” Filler said. “They were so into it.“
To create such a diverse experience, the program draws on everything from geography to geology, said Ken Verosub, a professor of geology and professor for the St. Petersburg program. He aims to study the city from every possible angle.
The program this year runs from Aug. 1 to Aug. 29, and fulfills HUM 180 Topics in Humanities and HUM 198 Directed Group Study credit. The maximum enrollment is 28 participants. The total program fee for UC students is $3,830, and $4,390 for non-UC students. International Education Awards are available from $500 to $1000 to help offset the cost of the program.
“I loved it,” Shapovalova said. “Time flew by really quickly.“
Sing in Bollywood
Subhash Risbud loves music.
Risbud, the director of the Internship and Career Center and a distinguished professor of engineering, teaches the freshman seminar “Exploring the Soul of an Ancient Culture Through Indian Classical Music.” This summer, he will be teaching “Music and Culture: From Sitar to Bollywood” in Mumbai, India for the first time.
“[The program] is an outgrowth from the freshman seminar,” Risbud said. In addition to enjoying Indian classical music, Risbud takes classes on Indian music and puts on house concerts in the Davis area.
Students will stay in the Indian Institute of Technology, in Mumbai, India.
Risbud said that students can get a feel of all of India without leaving Mumbai, because so many nations are represented in the area.
Shubhangi Sakhalkar, a professional Indian classical musician, will provide formal voice training and music instruction twice a week.
The remainder of the course will be an individual research project on any topic pertaining to Indian culture. Risbud said that students are free to present the information in a form of their choice, similar to a travel log.
The program is not restricted to music majors, nor is any experience in music required.
“[This is an] adventure in seeking a new culture and origins of music,” Risbud said.
The program dates are from July 4 to Aug. 1, with a maximum enrollment of 26 participants. The program provides credit in HUM 180 Topics in the Humanities and HUM 198 Directed Group Study. The total program fee for UC students is $4,784 and $5,344 for non-UC students. Four $500 travel awards are available to offset the cost of airfare.
SARA JOHNSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.