College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Increasing Opportunities for Study Abroad

February 10, 2015 | by Drew Jansen, courtesy of The Daily Mississippian

Quito, Ecuador Courtesy of Hadley Peterson

Quito, Ecuador |
Courtesy of Hadley Peterson

A new, faculty-led program titled “Art in the French Riviera” joins recently added exchange programs in Japan, Norway, China and France as part of the expansion of study abroad options for University of Mississippi students.

Assistant Professors of Art and Art History Kris Belden-Adams and Joshua Brinlee are leading the August intersession course, which focuses on exposure to art history in southern France through museums such as the National Picasso Museum and modern art museums in Cannes and Marseilles.

Belden-Adams explained that while the region is familiar to both faculty leaders for the trip, the course is exploratory in nature for the faculty as well. Belden-Adams and Brinlee hope to compile a text with the help of students this summer for future iterations of the course and those interested in similar excursions.

“Most art history classes take place in a dark classroom, viewing slides on a screen,” Belden-Adams said. “But it’s so much better to see art in real-life. You can gain an appreciation for the environment that inspired it.”

Associate Professor of Psychology Laura Johnson has been leading study abroad trips to Tanzania since 2009. The three to four week summer course, “Environment of Psychology in Tanzania,” focuses on psychology’s role in environmental and social justice issues faced by youths, their communities and their natural environment.

“Although the safaris are amazing and the beach is beautiful, it is the people, our Tanzanian partners, that have the most profound and unexpected impact,” Johnson said.

Johnson first went to East Africa in 1989 as a junior at UM and went on to work in the Peace Corps in Papua New Guinea and complete Fulbright scholarships in Uganda and Tanzania.

“I remember it took Susan (Scott) some significant convincing of ISEP program staff that a student from Ole Miss could handle the year with no blow dryer,” Johnson said. “That year in Kenya was formative for me, as it is for many who venture abroad during their college years.”

Last year, the university sent around 550 students abroad. Approximately 325 of those students went abroad during the summer.

The most popular destinations for students in the summer are Spain, the United Kingdom, Italy and China, according to the Study Abroad Office.

“During the semester, we have students almost evenly distributed throughout the world, though the United Kingdom and China generally have the most students abroad at a time,” Assistant Study Abroad Director Blair McElroy said.

Senior international studies major Sammy Lund explained the challenges and values of her time studying in Fez, Morocco and Angers, France.

“Africa was the first place outside the United States I had ever visited,” Lund said. “Culture shock is definitely a real thing, but it is also an integral part of the experience that allows you to truly come to terms with the differences between your culture and others.”

Johnson expressed her commitment to an international-minded approach to psychology and discussed the psychological and social aspects of living abroad.

“I tell the students to expect a time when they feel pretty low, like they made the wrong decision, like they should get on a plane and go home,” Johnson said. “When they notice this, they can be happy they are going through the rich process that is intercultural learning.”

About a third of UM students who study in countries with a foreign host language choose to study the language, while roughly two-thirds of students in that scenario opt to take their classes in English, according to McElroy.

The UM Study Abroad Office is hosting the Spring Study Abroad Fair Thursday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. in the Student Union.