Students Experience Nexus Learning During Short Course in Europe

Thirteen students and three faculty members traveled to Germany, Austria and Spain for a PhilaU study abroad short course this summer.

In May 2012, a group of 13 PhilaU students and three faculty members embarked on a three-week long trip to Germany, Austria, and Spain as part of a short study abroad program. The three-credit study abroad course, a faculty-led short course entitled “Germany for Freshmen,” challenged the students to study the history, culture and politics of Germany and beyond. The course was one of several short study abroad programs offered at PhilaU; other destinations included Hong Kong, Paris, and Buenos Aires.

The students were required to maintain a blog, which effectively served as an account of their daily reflections on the course and their cultural experiences, as well as the new people that they met. To read about the trip on the students’ blog, click here. One of the students on the trip, Eric Lacy, reflected on the journey in his blog; “I just wanted to get out there, broaden my horizons, and see how people lived in other parts of the world.” Another student, Jasmine Taylor, wrote, “I learned things [during this course] that I will take with me for the rest of my life.”

The students were also required to write one short essay during their time abroad regarding the Holocaust. The students were asked to use their own personal observations from their travels in addition to course readings to explain the origins and growth of the Holocaust. These essays can be found within the students’ blog posts. The final part of the course required the students to work with a partner to create a short film that would effectively argue their historical interpretation of Europe as either a unified or disjointed space. The final video projects from each group along with other short clips from the trip can be viewed on the group’s YouTube page at

The group of students was accompanied by Phil Tiemeyer, assistant professor of history, Kirstin Patragnoni-Sauter, MSN, CRNP, of the Health Services Center, and Katie Gindlesparger, director of the writing program.

“In my various years of teaching, I have never been so proud of a group of students,” Tiemeyer said in his final blog post about the trip. “The final projects they made wowed me, Katie and Kirstin.All three of us count ourselves lucky to have worked with such a talented group as they made these very profound connections about the European experience.”

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