Dean says students benefit from traveling the world

++Explore-the-WorldStudying abroad offers a bigger education experience by meeting people from different cultures and expanding horizons, said Arts Division Dean Ruth Charnay.

“You get to feel like you’re a citizen of the world,” she said. “That’s one of the biggest parts of travel is being a citizen of the world.”

Charnay will be going on the Central Europe study abroad trip this summer with a group of students.

“We’re spending two or three days in several locations, but it’s primarily in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic,” she said.

“It really is a variety of some historical context. We are going to Terezin and Auschwitz, incredibly important sites of the Holocaust and World War II. We’re also going to hike in the Tatra Mountains and take a cruise on the Danube [River] so there’s going to be some relaxation and just enjoying the beauty.”

Charnay said the trip will count as one hour toward a communication class. She said since it counts for just one hour, there won’t be an extreme amount of work.

“During the trip we’ll have opportunities, whether it’s sitting over a Coke or on the train going from one place to another, to talk about different [communications across cultures]. When they come back, they’ll prepare a paper or presentation.

“It’s not like we’re having daily classes on the trip.”

Charnay said there are numerous benefits to traveling abroad. One of the benefits is learning firsthand rather than while sitting in a class.

“If you sit in history classes and talk about Europe and what happened, whether it’s World War II or during the days of the Soviet Union, it’s going to make a whole lot more sense if you’re actually able to get an idea of what those communities are and how they look today.”

She said the different cultural experiences are a benefit as well.

“You’re going to learn specific things about history and culture that are different than your own and that can be an amazing experience. We’re going to see and hear things that aren’t a part of our daily culture.”

Charnay said she has been on study abroad trips to Costa Rica, a few times to London, and Greece and Italy.

She said her favorite part of traveling is the memories she makes.

“I have memories that are so clear of amazing places that I’ve visited, of moments of time when I was just able to sit at a little cafe and, even if it was an incredibly short conversation with one of the locals, those are just as clear to me as any other experience in my life.

“Sometimes I think the world comes into focus in the quiet moments when you’re someplace else. I’ve seen all the tourists sights. I’ve been to the Roman Colosseum, stood under the Eiffel Tower, and those are great — I remember those, too — but truly some of my best memories are the quiet moments when the world comes into focus.”

Charnay said younger people can derive a lot through traveling.

“A lot of people assume it would be better (to travel) later when you have more money,” she said.

“I would say if you could possibly afford it when you’re young, it’s actually a better experience to do it while you’re young, and you’re able to really take advantage of feeling free when you go places.

“Go in your blue jeans with a backpack and eat a hot dog from the guy on the corner and then stand there and talk to him for 10 minutes about his life. That’s a great travel-abroad experience.”

Oklahoma Study Abroad offers several trips throughout the year.

For more information, visit

Trip Director Christian Alyea can be contacted at


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