Dozens of University of Wisconsin-Platteville Performing and Visual Arts students traveled across the pond to embark on short-term faculty led trips to Europe over winterim. Dr. Tyler Ostergaard, associate professor of art, and Gregory Nelson, professor of art and art program coordinator, led the Art Study Abroad to Rome. Dr. Bob Demaree, director of choral activities, and Stephanie Klein, associate director of choral activities, organized the Chamber Choir London Tour. Dr. Ann Farrelly, professor of theatre and theatre program coordinator, Jeffrey Strange, professor of theatre, and Sarah Strange, senior lecturer of theatre, guided the Theatre Study Abroad to London.
“Short-term study abroad programs like ours give the students an amazing opportunity to experience another country and culture without the commitment or price tag of a full semester abroad,” said Sarah. “It opens up their world and exposes them to incredible theatre experiences that they might not have access to in the Midwest. Traveling and experiencing other parts of the world are truly an invaluable part of their education.”
For one student, Emma Wagner, this was her second time participating in the Chamber Choir London Tour. She said the group had the opportunity to see different shows including “Hamilton,” “Moulin Rouge” and “Othello.” Students also visited historic landmarks: the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, the Globe Theatre and the British Museum.
“The great thing about the trip, it was full of educational activities and interesting shows, while allowing us time to come up with our own destinations within London. Our choir really got to bond because of this trip,” said Wagner, a senior choral education, general music education and vocal non-teaching major from Potosi, Wisconsin. “My favorite part was the gorgeous cathedrals we got to sing in. You could feel the history of the space – it was a once-in-a-lifetime trip. It broadened our horizons past what we grew up with in the U.S. It gave us valuable experience we can share with future students. It was 100% worth it.”
The choral trip visited London for a week. Through this experience, Demaree hopes the students now have a greater appreciation for artistry and cultural differences.
“There is just so much to experience in this world,” he said. “It's always important to remember that only a fraction of our students have traveled outside the U.S. On this trip, we had several students who had never been on an airplane. Even if it's only a week, the differences between the traffic patterns, food items, language choices and historical gravity hits them square on – immersing for a week is incredibly powerful.”
The 14 students who traveled to Rome were mainly art majors and art history and architecture minors. The 10-day trip included seeing the Roman Forum, the Coliseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and the Galleria Borghese. The art program is planning a similar trip for winter 2025.
“Study Abroad is an incredible educational opportunity,” said Ostergaard. “The biggest thing I hope students took away from the trip is just how vast our world is. When we look at artworks in class or in books, they can start to feel very same-samey. But when we are walking through the Roman Forum or looking at a Baroque church, we begin to appreciate the tremendous variety within human artistic production. It hits harder and leaves a stronger impact on us.”
This is the fourth study abroad trip to London for the theatre program. According to Farrelly, since 2016 nearly 80 students have participated. She said the next Theatre Study Abroad to London is being planned for 2025.
“Study abroad takes students outside of their comfort zones, it introduces them to other cultures and the broader global community and it teaches them wonderful lessons about self-sufficiency and confidence,” said Farrelly. “Students literally walked on the same floor where Shakespeare walked. They have seen where he grew up. How can that not change their perspective? I hope students better understand the world and its vastness. I hope they continue to want to be explorers. I hope they not only have a better understanding of another part of the world, but also a better understanding of their role in the world.”
To learn more about the Department of Performing and Visual Arts, visit www.uwplatt.edu/department/performing-visual-arts.
To learn more about study abroad programs, visit www.uwplatt.edu/study-abroad.