Finding it hard to pick one study abroad spot, Sarah Krumholz ’13 opted instead to circle the globe, city by city.
Sarah Krumholz ’13 (Guilford, Conn.) spent the fall semester abroad, but by no means stayed in one place. Travelling with 34 other students enrolled in the International Honors Program’s Cities in the 21st Century class, the geography and urban studies major spent four months flying around the world living in and learning from five cities.
Where did you study abroad and how long were you in each place?
I was in Detroit, Michigan, for two weeks; Sao Paulo, Brazil, for a month; Curitiba, Brazil, for a week; Cape Town, South Africa, for a month; travelling on my own in South Africa for a week; and in Hanoi, Vietnam, for five weeks.
Why did you choose this particular program?
Because I’m an Urban Studies concentrator, I found it interesting. Also I was unsure about where I wanted to study abroad and whether I wanted to be in one place the whole time, so this program seemed like the best option: I got to travel around, see many places, cultures, and cities, and learn about the world. I literally flew around the world.
Did you have a favorite country?
Vietnam was probably my favorite because it was the most different. It was just a whirlwind to be there, and every day was a mystery and a new adventure I’d find myself lost within. Cape Town was the most challenging in terms of understanding how it is such a physically beautiful place with such an ugly history. That contrast really hit me; we lived in a township there for two weeks and experiencing what it’s like to have such limited access to resources was interesting. For us it was just two weeks but for the families we lived with, it was their whole lives.
How did the coursework proceed when you kept moving from one city to the next?
The whole premise of this program is that it’s experiential rather than classroom-based. Every day was different, whether we were going on a site or agency visit, exploring a neighborhood, or having a guest lecture from a local professor. We had a planned itinerary from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday but it was still really day-by-day and sort of unpredictable.
Do you still stay in touch with people from your program?
I learned an incredible amount from the people I encountered within the cities themselves, but I also learned so much from the students I was with. It was refreshing to be surrounded by students from various-sized institutions who didn’t necessarily have the same priorities that Macalester students have in terms of their academic path or politics. I’ve seen many them since we’ve been back, and we all stay in touch pretty well.
With moving around so much, were you able to really meet local people?
We stayed with families so we made connections there; our longest homestay was four weeks. But yes, one of the downfalls of only being in each place for a limited time is that you don’t make the same connections that some of my friends who went to one place for an entire semester made. But I still stay in touch with my families, and it was fun for them because we would send them postcards from every country we went to. And when you live with someone for four weeks you still get an insight into their world.