Part of the fun in traveling to exotic places is exploring things new and unfamiliar.
John Van Sant, Ph.D., associate professor of history, knows this. When he leads students on a two-week, study-away trip to Japan, he encourages them to notice the differences and to find the similarities.
|UAB students pose for a photo with high school students in Japan as part of the UAB in Japan faculty-led program.
“We see some old and well-known temples and shrines, particularly in Kyoto,” Van Sant says. “But we also go to see some modern things, too, particularly in Osaka, which is a very modern, gleaming city in every sense.
“A place like Japan seems completely different to the United States to some people, but there are many similarities. The people there often have similar concerns and interests to Americans.”
Van Sant will be taking students to Japan in May 2010 as part of the UAB in Japan faculty-led program. Faculty and students can learn about this and other study-away opportunities during the Study Away Fair, Thursday, Sept. 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Hill University Center lobby.
The Office for Study Away will promote its 2010 UAB faculty-led programs and answer questions about funding opportunities. App-roximately 20 additional providers with programs all over the world also will attend.
“The fair is a great way to start researching study-away options and also have specific questions answered,” says coordinator Christy Lievens.
The Office for Study Away offers students the opportunity to complement and enhance their degree programs by participating in its programs. UAB has more than 101 affiliations with universities in 46 countries. Programs of study include but are not limited to undergraduate or graduate-level coursework, internships and research projects, field studies and clinical or observational externships.
Van Sant took nine students to Japan in 2008 and will take as many as 10 students there in 2010.
Van Sant, who lived in Osaka for six years and Kyoto for one year, will travel with students to those cities and Hiroshima, among others.
The itinerary reflects his teaching objectives: Explore the historical and cultural traditions of Japan and also its urban traditions to find the similarities between American and Japanese culture.
“Osaka and Hiroshima are great modern cities that students can compare to cities they know in the United States, like Birmingham,” Van Sant says. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to show and teach students about the history, culture and society.”
Kristen Shealy, a pre-med senior majoring in International Studies with a minor in chemistry, took part in the International Partnership for Service Learning and Leadership program in Siena, Italy, this past summer. Shealy chose the program for its service-learning aspect.
“I wanted full immersion into a culture, and I really liked the opportunities IPSL offered to volunteer within the community of Siena,” Shealy says.
One of the highlights of her experience was the opportunity to learn about the socialized Italian health-care system.
“We learned the theory behind socialized health care in Italy and then saw it in action when we toured an Italian hospital or volunteered in a nursing home,” she says. “It was interesting to see what works, what does not work and what — as Americans — we can learn from the structure of the Italian health-care system. It gave me a better perspective on the current health-care debate here.”
Shealy says the opportunity to immerse herself in a culture half a world away gave her a new perspective on life abroad and at home.
“My mindset has changed to think beyond the local or even national levels to a more global level,” she says. “It gave me the desire to continue my travels around the world, and to experience more of my own culture here in Alabama. I learned to work with different people, overcome language barriers and appreciate cultures other than my own.”
The Office for Study Away works in tandem with Academic Programs and Policy and the schools throughout campus to provide a multitude of possible course equivalencies so that students do not have to put their degree programs on hold while they study away.
“We truly can find a program tailored to each student’s specific goals, and that is why we encourage students to visit the fair and explore the possibilities,” Lievens says. “Then they can make an appointment to talk to us one to one about making their goals a reality.”
Visit www.studyabroad.app.uab.edu for more information.