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Study Abroad Testimonials

Michelle DiPietro '09 (pictured above - spent summer 2006 in Dublin and fall 2007 in Galway, Ireland)
In my early days of pursuing the Medieval and Renaissance Studies AOC, I became interested in medieval Ireland and decided to spend some time at an Irish university. My New College professors urged me to do so, as they understood the value of working with obscure materials and impassioned specialists, wherever they may be. My first study abroad experience was a summer in Trinity College, Dublin, which counted for ISP credit. This six-week whirlwind of intensive classes punctuated by weekend treks to historic sites both on and off the beaten path whet my appetite for further travel. A year later, I went back to Ireland for a full semester at the National University of Ireland, Galway, studying medieval Irish literature and history, and discovering the text that would form the basis of my thesis (I met my husband there too!). In my final year, I was thrilled to receive a New College Alumni/ae Association Research and Travel Gravel and a Nellie Mae Thesis Research Grant to fund three weeks of thesis research in Ireland and the UK, including the at University of Oxford, where I later went on to earn a masters degree in Medieval Studies. New College is far from a static learning environment, especially where Medieval & Renaissance Studies is concerned. It follows a “go forth and prosper” model that trusts its students to make the most of worldwide opportunities and boomerang back as knowledgeable, daring, and independent scholars (and perhaps someday as conference presenters). It is no overstatement to say that study abroad was one of the best things that ever happened to me, and it wouldn’t have been possible without New College’s alumni donors and outstanding faculty.
 

Crawford Bennett '10 (spent spring 2008 in León, Spain)
Study in León, Spain, was irreplaceable. The program I attended provided me opportunities to visit and live in places pertinent to the studies I had begun in the United States. Being able to see first-hand examples of architecture, manuscripts, and historical artifacts that I had only inspected via photos, movies, or mere descriptions brought the Middle Ages and Renaissance far more alive for me than they had been. Living in Spain settled many areas of my life and gave me a steadier direction for when I returned home. Ultimately, my study abroad experience cleared up my choice of thesis topic. Since 2008, I have been to Spain once more in 2011 and am already looking forward to another trip. Study abroad caused a certain solidification of my love for the place where the events of my studies happened, which is something I hope others can experience because it will make their academic life all the more enjoyable.
 

Derek Black '13 (spent spring 2011 in Munich, Germany)
Studying at the University of Munich introduced me to just how interconnected the work of medievalists is across the globe. The first question when I entered the office of one of my German medieval history professors was, “What are the names of your professors at home? Perhaps we know each other!” My professors in the Munich history department were consistently thrilled to work with an American undergraduate. I learned to look at familiar questions from the various perspectives of my fellow students whose passion for similar material came from different experiences. Seeing in person some of the places we studied in class lent a tangible reality to periods of time that were hard to imagine while at home. One weekend we arranged a trip to view Carolingian architecture in Aachen, Germany and the next week an excursion let us see its Byzantine inspiration in Ravenna, Italy. I learned to research in some of the largest libraries in the world. The variety of languages I encountered both among my peers and in my research prepared me to confidently cross language boundaries when researching my thesis back at New College. It was not until I returned to the U.S. that I realized just how much I had grown in my abilities and confidence as a student. My time abroad was essential to my personal growth, training me to find solutions to challenges I would otherwise not have attempted. My experience has contributed to my credibility when applying to graduate schools and research programs and to my ability to think globally. My experiences abroad were critical to my progress as a student and I could never have begun my journey without the essential support of many people along the way.
 

James Cross '07 (spent AY 2005–6 in Uppsala, Sweden)
As part of my studies at New College, under the guidance of Professors Beneš and Harvey, I developed a particular interest in medieval Scandinavian and Icelandic history and literature. However, this fell well outside the topics covered by New College's normal course offerings and even ISPs and IRPs can only go so far. Further, study in modern Scandinavian languages, a requirement for accessing the literature in my field of interest, was not offered at New College or any other Florida university. Fortunately, I had the opportunity, partly thanks to a grant from the New College Alumni Association, to study at Uppsala University in Sweden. While there, I was able to gain proficiency in reading both academic and literary Swedish. With some effort, I was able to expand this into reading academic Norwegian and Danish as well. I was also able to take several courses in Scandinavian history, ranging from the Migration Period to the modern day. As an added bonus, I was also able to take a historical theory and methods course, something not yet offered at New College while I was an undergraduate. Between my studies at Uppsala University and New College's excellent courses in general medieval European history and Latin, I found myself extremely well prepared for a Master's program at the University of Iceland.