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Vienna becomes a classroom this summer

Wednesday, August 15, 2007  
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A group of Oklahoma Christian University students traveled across Europe this summer in order to acquire college credit and an experience of a lifetime.

The 16 students from Oklahoma Christian and Cascade College, OC's branch school in Oregon, began by spending five days in London. Next, the group flew to Vienna, Austria, where they took up residence in Schloss Neuwaldegg, an 18th century castle in the western part of the city that OC rents for study abroad students and other visitors.

"I thought Vienna was different than some of the other cities because it had not been taken over by tourists," OC sophomore Alyssa Beekman said. "I still saw people doing their daily grocery shopping and kids getting out of school. In Vienna, it was easier to blend in because not everything was touristy."

For the next seven weeks, the students split their time between living like citizens of Vienna, listening to class lectures, visiting museums and historical buildings, attending operas and ballets, and traveling outside Austria. The program allows participants to travel with a train pass around the entire continent of Europe.

Shawn Jones, academic dean and Bible professor from Cascade College, sponsored the trip along with his wife, Nancy. Jones says he witnessed the academic, personal, social and spiritual growth that resulted from the students' time in Europe.

"Their worldview is greatly expanded," he said. "History becomes more than textbooks and pictures. It is an absolute thrill to see the maturation of our students in such a short period. They are blessed to be in a setting that gives them significant life skills."

While this program, along with Latin American Studies, gives students six to eight credit hours, other study abroad programs during the fall semester allow students to earn 12 to 16 hours of credit. Vienna Studies and Pacific Rim Studies both send groups of approximately 30 students around the globe. Ibaraki Exchange is a long-term program concentrating on full immersion of a smaller number of students in the schools and in the culture of Japan and Korea.

"Traveling abroad is definitely worth the experience," OC senior Stephen LupPlace said. "When we first left Oklahoma, I had no idea what to expect. I'd never even been out of the country before and yet there I was, flying to Great Britain. The moment we got off the plane we hit the ground running."

To view pictures of the students' travels, click here.

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