Hamline News

Hamline Students Study Abroad in January

Before classes spring ahead into the next semester, it is time to reflect on the busy and adventurous J-Term many Hamline students had. From Jamaica to Germany, Hamline students traveled all over the world through the wonderful J-Term study abroad option.


BelizeTo escape January in Minnesota, a small group of ten students, along with Professor of Biology Leif Hembre and staff member Frantz Joseph, ventured to Monkey Bay, Belize. They spent their time soaking up the sun outdoors, snorkeling and learning from a course titled “Water Ecology from Ridge to Reef.” With all the conservation efforts going on throughout the country to preserve the rain forest and the animals that live there, the course highlighted the impacts of human activity on the surrounding watershed area.

“What I learned in Belize made me realize the importance of applying conservation efforts here at home, even if they are small, and continue to encourage people to think about the impact we have on the land, water, plants, and animals everywhere,” said Maddy Bygd. 

Hembre was thrilled by how the students tried new things that were outside of their comfort zones.

“There was a lot of firsts on this trip,” said Hembre. "A lot of students had never been out of the country, or gone camping. Being disconnected from technology and not being in constant contact with their normal lives enabled them be more immersed in the experience.”

Central Europe

central europeOn a less tropical and more musical journey, Hamline’s A Cappella Choir, along with Director and Professor of Music George T. Chu, shared their choral pieces abroad on a tour of Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic. The 32 student choir visited historical sites, such as Mozart’s birthplace and Flossenbürg concentration camp, and they also performed six concerts for local listeners-- including host-families they stayed with while in Germany. Their last performance at an English school in Prague was especially memorable as the choir lined the stairwell and sang for the students being released from their last class of the day.

“I loved staying with actual families during our time in Germany.” said junior Kiira Christopherson. “Everyone was so hospitable and friendly. It made learning about their culture more genuine and meaningful. It was great to practice some German, too!”


Sophomore Egeziharya Yilma had an especially busy J-Term. She attended the choir trip in Central Europe and she also went to Ethiopia with the newly formed student organization, the Ethiopian and Eritrean Student Union (EESU).  A total of five members of EESU traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to attend a conference titled “Health Education and Advocacy through the lens of Ethiopian Diaspora Youth.”

"EESU’s mission is centered around creating and promoting various cultural events and academic discussions revolving around topics of identity, diversity, justice, and freedom,” said EESU Public Relations Chair Raie Gessesse.

EthiopiaThe group also met with the Ministry of Education to start the process of forming an official partnership with Addis Ababa University. This is exciting news for future students at Hamline because the Addis Ababa partnership will allow students from both universities to connect and share experiences across cultures for years to come. Regarding this partnership, EESU has discussed potential mentorship opportunities, cultural discussions and internship opportunities for students at both universities.

"One thing that we will all take away from this trip is the importance of seeking community through unity,” said Gessesse. "Ethiopia and Eritrea are two extremely diverse countries with many different tribal languages, traditions, and customs which often become points of division amongst us. However, we learned that as an Ethiopian and Eritrean diaspora youth group, we have the power to begin encouraging tough conversations in hopes of a future that promises both justice and unity. We are humbled and excited to bring back our newly kindled love of our home countries to our diaspora community."


Coordinator of Civic Engagement and the Hamline to Hamline Collaboration at the Wesley Center Kevin Yang and Director of the Wesley Center Nancy Victorin-Vangerud traveled to Laos with a class learning about the religion and culture of Laos, focusing mainly on Buddhism, Christianity and Animism.

laosStudents attended spiritual sites throughout Laos including wats, churches, mosques, and the homes of spiritual leaders. Students wrote journal entries and engaged in daily conversations about the many concepts and people they encountered.

In addition to their visits to spiritual sites, the class partnered with an organization called the Sunbeam Center. Here students helped facilitate lessons at a hospital during the early afternoons and then spent the rest of the day with a Laotian college youth group. The students assisted in the classrooms by preparing presentations covering their cultural experiences in the United States and also by practicing conversations with students in English.

Yang also explained how embracing the way in which other cultures see and understand the world can shift our own understanding of how we perceive certain everyday things.

“Studying abroad not only gives us the opportunity to learn, but also experience these differences.” said Yang. “It can be something as simple as the way a spoon is held or something as great as our understandings of life and death. These different perspectives enrich our experience as learners because they open our minds to new ways of thinking and allow us to continue practicing empathy with difference.”

England, Netherlands, and Italy

england netherlands and italyWhile many students travel through Hamline’s abroad options, Hamline students also have the unique opportunity to travel abroad through partnering programs and schools. For example, the Upper Midwest Association for Intercultural Education (UMAIE) is a study abroad program that includes Hamline as well as five other schools in the Midwest.

This J-Term UMAIE took a trip to London, Amsterdam and Florence. Three Hamline students joined 23 others from neighboring universities to attend this trip led by St. Thomas University professors. The course titled “Surviving Adolescence”  was a literature course focusing on the transition from childhood to adulthood in early works from European authors from the three cities visited. Students immersed themselves in the culture by partaking in museum visits, walking tours, cultural events, and historical site visits. 

By partnering with other programs students are immersing themselves in the culture of a different country and learning alongside students from different backgrounds and schools.

“It was interesting to travel with people from different schools who contributed a different dynamic,” said senior Emma Hamilton. “This [experience] really helped me to step out of my comfort zone and try things I otherwise wouldn’t have.”

The many other abroad trips that Hamline students ventured on this J-Term included:

Athens, Greece
Dublin, Ireland
Rome, Italy
Salamanca, Spain
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Sydney, Australia

To learn more about study abroad/away options visit the Hamline Study-Away Website or stop by the Global Engagement Center.


Written by Emma Larson and Autumn Vagle