Backpacking through Europe to see rich historical sights, sample gourmet food and experience diverse cultures is any traveler’s dream. For a group of students in the College of Human Sciences, it’s an invaluable learning experience to further enrich their Auburn University education.
A group of CHS students traveled through Italy, France, the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria and Ireland this spring to study tourism and global trends. To give international context to what these students learn in the classroom, they are given the opportunity to experience European hospitality and culture firsthand. During their month-long journey, they experienced the food, history and culture of European cities such as Florence, Nice, Paris, Amsterdam, Prague, Budapest, Salzburg and Dublin, among others.
The learning opportunities on the road were extensive, plus students were responsible for planning a portion of the study tour. Rising Global Studies sophomore Hollen Terry said the tour’s management responsibility drew her to the opportunity. Each student was tasked with choosing a European city along their route and planning what the 16-student group would do, see and learn while there. Terry said she learned how to be flexible and balance a full schedule for the assignment.
“It was a challenge that is beneficial for everyone, no matter their major. Learning those logistical planning skills and discerning what is and is not worth visiting was one of the biggest learning curves of the entire experience,” Terry said. “I highly recommend this backpacking experience to anyone looking to engage more deeply with the world, and grow personally and professionally.”
Hospitality Management Department Head Martin O’Neill accompanied the students on the trip.
“From a global perspective, this trip is truly unique in that students not only plan the trip, but also then have to execute their plans in a managerial sense,” O’Neill said. “They are responsible for all facets of the planning exercise including time, space, budget and risk and while on the ground, they have to meet the objectives set for each city. It truly is wonderful to watch the group dynamic and the many lightbulb moments as they progress and grow.” In addition to lessons about management, fine wine and gourmet food, students make memories that will be with them forever. Terry said her favorite memory of the trip is biking through Salzburg down trails lined with fields of poppies and enjoying a picnic in a quaint park within view of the Austrian mountains. Terry also said she learned a lot interacting with people she wouldn’t otherwise encounter on Auburn’s campus.
“These are invaluable lessons that can only be learned through an experience as unique as the Backpacking Europe trip. Every successful career requires a teamwork-oriented mindset, flexibility, innovation, curiosity, engagement with your surroundings and a global perspective,” Terry said. “These are all skills I acquired or strengthened during this trip, and they will all be used in my career.”
For more information on the Backpacking through Europe program, visit the Global Studies Study Abroad page.