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Honors Program students return from adventures in Germany

Participants in this year's Honors Travel program in Germany.

Twenty-five students from the Illinois State University Honors Program recently returned from an 11-day study-abroad experience traveling through Germany.  This Honors Travel program provided these students with an immersive cultural experience that highlighted the history, traditions, and commerce of this beautiful country.

The City-as-Text Honors course was created last year by Director of Illinois State’s Honors Program Tim Fredstrom.  Students in the Honors Program are able to take this course as an Honors Learning Experience.

Consisting of three parts, the course guides students through a short-term study abroad trip from pre-trip preparation through post-trip reflection.  The first part of the course is a series of preparatory meetings featuring guest speakers and topics about the chosen location for the course.  The second part is a study abroad experience in a particular world city or country during which students take part in tours of various landmarks and historical or cultural areas.  Throughout the trip, students reflect on their experiences by keeping a journal of their thoughts and reactions.  This journal is then used upon the students’ return to the United States for the third component of the course, which takes place online.  Students submit a number of essays and responses to prompts reflecting on what they experienced during their trip.

Students in the 2015 Honors Travel program visited Berlin, Leipzig, Wittenberg, Munich, and Dresden and toured sites such as the Berlin Wall, Neuschwanstein Castle, the Bach Museum, and the Volkswagen and BMW factories. Students were extremely excited to take part in this experience and were able to cultivate a vast knowledge of German culture and history.

“The Germany program was the perfect blend of learning and fun,” says Ethan Witting, a junior Honors student.  We got to see five historic cities that most of us may have never visited otherwise, and we were able to form lasting relationships with our peers unique to that experience. This is my second time participating in Honors Travel abroad, and I can say without a doubt that they were the two best times of my life.”

The course instructors were Fredstrom and Assistant Professor RJ Rowley from the Department of Geography-Geology.  In addition, Assistant Provost Rita Bailey and Dean of the College of Applied Science and Technology Jeff Wood accompanied the group.

“I am thrilled the Honors Program can support the campus goal of doubling the number of students studying abroad through programs like Honors in Germany. The pre-departure experiences, learning in our ‘moving classroom’ on the bus ride between cities, and the online course upon return, provide a transformative learning experience for students. I look forward to continued partnerships with the Study Abroad Office as we work together to provide opportunities like this for Honors Students,” says Fredstrom.

For more information about the City-as-Text Honors course, please contact Dr. Tim Fredstrom, Director of the Honors Program at Fredstrom@IllinoisState.edu.

For more information about opportunities to study abroad, please contact the Study Abroad Office at studyabroad@IllinoisState.edu.