Kent’s study abroad programs ‘feed the soul’


Students and staff enjoy Machu Picchu during the geography department’s past study abroad trip to Peru. Photo by Scott Sheridan .

Danielle DeBord

Students of the geography department have the opportunity to study outside the classroom and in the field a few times a year. This year they have the choice to study in Costa Rica, Yucatan, Parks of the Southwest U.S., Cambodia and Ireland.

Geography Professor Scott Sheridan, who leads the department’s study abroad programs, said the programs have been active for more than a decade. Last year, the field studies started to reestablish and the program became structured, he said.

Sheridan went on the Peru trip last year and is leading the upcoming Costa Rica trip.

The programs change year to year, with the exception of the Yucatan program, Sheridan said.

He said faculty members usually take students to their areas of expertise.

“I think that’s what makes it successful because we have a vested interest in our region,” Sheridan said.

Certain requirements must be met for students to attend. They receive three credit hours for the program; depending on the program and professor, there are presentations and journals that have to be completed throughout the semester.

Cambodia trip

  • when: May Intercession
  • estimated cost: $2,800.

    Ireland trip

  • when: May Intercession, 15 days
  • cost $2,800

    Costa Rica trip

  • estimated cost: $1,950
  • when: Spring break, 9 days

    Yucatan trip

  • estimated cost: $1,700
  • when: Spring break

    Parks of the Southwest trip

  • estimated cost: $1,400 plus airfare
  • when: May Intercession.

Students also have to pay for the trip; prices vary depending on the program, Sheridan said. The geography department awarded four $500 scholarships to geography majors and minors for the upcoming trips.

About 12 to 20 people go on each trip; however, the Yucatan trip is strictly 12 people. Sheridan said it is a public place so it’s hard to keep track of students, which is why it’s restricted to a small group.

Jennifer Burrell, graduate student in geography, has gone on the Yucatan and Peru trips. She also plans to go on the Ireland trip in May.

Burrell said she likes the short-term programs because of the time and money. She said these programs are on her bucket list and never thought she would be able to go until the late future.

The short-term programs range from one week to a little more than two weeks. The May intercession trips are about 10 to 14 days.

Anyone is welcome to go on the trips. Sheridan said both geography and non-geography students, family and faculty have studied with the programs.

“I think it brought different generations together,” Sheridan said.

Burrell said studying abroad was an amazing experience for her. In Peru, she went to Machu Picchu, which she’s only ever seen pictures in National Geographic.

“Most important thing I learned was that no matter if you travel halfway around the world or just the next town over, a trip opens your eyes to the world around you,” Burrell said in an email interview, “And traveling is something every person should do; it feeds the soul.”

Contact Danielle DeBord at [email protected].