Summer study abroad: An offer you can’t refuse

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A student relaxing in the heat. Photo by Henry Gramling.

The excitement and value of summer travel

Another summer has come and gone, but people make new memories with each one that passes. Students can create lifelong memories each summer with the various study abroad programs that the University of Dallas offers, including trips to Avila, Rome, and Israel. These programs offer cultural, religious and educational experiences to fulfill our students’ summers.

One of the summer study abroad programs that UD offers is the opportunity to study in Avila, Spain, at the Universidad Católica de Ávila. This program provides a way for students to immerse themselves in the Spanish language and culture, as well as take classes to fulfill UD requirements. Max Kiehne, a sophomore biology and nursing major, went to Avila to experience the Spanish immersion.

“I could help a lot more people as a nurse if I spoke Spanish,” Kiehne explained. “I knew that a trip to Avila would help.”

Not only did Kiehne take an advanced Spanish grammar class, but he also took a Spanish medical class and visited a student hospital on campus. “One of the doctors gave us a tour and showed us a lot of the equipment and rooms and described the procedures all in Spanish,” Kiehne said.

A crucial part of the experience was the weekly excursions, where students went to places such as Madrid, Segovia and Salamanca. They got to see sites like El Escorial, (the palace of King Philip II) and even saw a flamenco show.

But the Avila Program is just one of the summer study abroad programs UD offers. Another program which has been gaining momentum over the past few years is the Summer Rome Program. This program is similar to the Fall and Spring Rome programs, but has also taken on a unique life of its own.

“Summer Rome is different in that there’s less people there than in a normal semester,” Anya Van Arnam, junior English major, explains. “We all became tightknit by the very end of it.” The summer Romers are the only class to go island-hopping in Greece and even their classes are unique from a normal semester, including teachers who are normally in Irving during the school year.

One of Summer Rome’s strengths is that it also allows more people to partake in the Rome experience who otherwise would not be able to attend a Fall or Spring Rome semester, allowing UD students to see the Core curriculum coming together for themselves. “I feel [the Core] came together [in Rome],” reflected Sierra “Rosie” McGill, a junior English major. “When you get to Rome, and you start taking those classes, and you start actually seeing and breathing in the air of those areas where all these things originated, you’re starting to understand how these things came to be and how they can come to be in you as well.”

Not only can the Core come together in Rome, but it can also come together in Israel. Fr. Thomas Esposito, Associate Professor of Theology, and Dr. Jon Paul Heyne, Assistant Professor of History, started a new summer study abroad program in the Holy Land this year.

“The genesis for the Holy Land trip was the realization that UD has always gone to Rome and Athens,” Esposito explained, “but we’ve never had an undergrad trip to Jerusalem, which to my mind is the fullness of civilization, but western civilization in particular.”

“[We] came up for a course for current undergrad students,” Esposito explained. “We called it Scripture and Geography of the Holy Land [and] opened the trip up as a pilgrimage to any current student or recent alumni.”

The cohort of UD students and alumni traveled all over Israel, from Bethlehem to Galilee to Jerusalem to walk the way Jesus walked, including the Way of the Cross.

“The two centers of the Church are Rome and Jerusalem,” said Ella McManus, a senior psychology major. “We spend a lot of time and energy on Rome, and Rome was fantastic. But I think Jerusalem adds a layer of richness — it brings everything to life in the Bible in a new way having been there.”

Fr. Esposito would like to encourage students to join the next Israel trip in May 2025. “Do you love Jesus?” Esposito asked, in address to both undergraduates and alumni. “Walk in His footsteps with us.” Whether in Jerusalem, Rome or Spain, UD students certainly had an adventurous summer, experiencing programs that can provide for future students’ explorations.

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