Student Spotlight

Caroline LibsockCaroline Libsock and classmates with statue

Major: Social Studies History Teaching
Hometown: Tempe, AZ

Where did you study (describe institution and who were your classmates)?
I studied at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. This is one of the oldest colleges in the United States, second only to Harvard. It is also the alma mater of U.S. Presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and John Tyler. I studied there through the National Institute of American History and Democracy (NIAHD), which is a partnership between the college and Colonial Williamsburg, which is a neighboring living history museum where the 18th century America comes to life.

There were three other students from across the country accepted to attend this program. They were from Siena College in New York, Moravian College in Pennsylvania, and Hamilton College in New York. We took courses along with other full- time William and Mary students. Having a small, close- knit group of fellow students made this program infinitely more enjoyable!

What courses did you take?
During my time here, I took four courses that centered on Colonial American history. I learned about topics ranging from the history of Virginians and how they prepared for and participated in the American Revolution to looking at Virginia's plantations and how they have told the stories of enslaved people then and now. I also got to learn about the field of Public History, examining the problems and challenges museums and other educational institutes face as they attempt to represent history accurately while maintaining visitorship.

My favorite class I took was a weekly travel course where we would get in a van and travel through time as we went to historic sites across the states of Virginia and Maryland. With this class I got to see many things I had only before encountered in the history books. We explored places such as Jamestown, Yorktown, and the Great Dismal Swamp and visited the homes of many founding fathers including George Mason, Harry "Lightfoot" Lee, and Patrick Henry. We even ended our semester at Mount Vernon, home of George Washington.

Describe the best part about studying history abroad.
The best part of studying history in Williamsburg was being able to take advantage of the endless historical resources this region had to offer. Williamsburg is completely engulfed in early American history, unlike any other place I have lived or been to. As a William and Mary student, I was given an unlimited pass to visit Colonial Williamsburg. This meant that I could go and visit the living history museum as many times as I wanted, free of charge. I was able to watch performances, take house tours, watch trade shop interpreters and much more! Beyond Colonial Williamsburg, there are many other nearby living history museums, such as those at Jamestown and Yorktown, as well as Founding Fathers' homes. The list is endless!

What were some of the most memorable historical and cultural sites?
Jamestown was the first historical site that my travel class visited and perhaps my favorite. Previously, I did not have a lot of experience with living history museums, so they were unfamiliar territory to me. There are actually two separate living history museums at Jamestown (both of which I visited): Historic Jamestowne and Jamestown settlement. Historic Jamestowne is run by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and the National Park service. It is the actual location of the Jamestown settlement and the site of archeological excavation. The experience of watching archaeology happen right before my eyes was incredibly exciting to me. At this site, I was also able to visit the Archaearium, which was filled with countless artifacts, including the remains of "Jane", an adolescent victim of cannibalism during the "starving time" at Jamestown. Unlike Historic Jamestowne, Jamestown Settlement is a recreation of the 17th century settlement where reconstructed buildings and costumed interpreters take visitors back in time.

What advice would you give to students considering studying abroad?
The first piece of advice I would give is if you are considering a study abroad program or any other similar program, do it! It will be worth it. Second, once you are studying abroad, actively and intentionally take advantage of the unique resources that your location has. Your time studying abroad will fly by, so you need to keep visiting all the places you want to see from the start! Don't let your time pass you by.

Future goals and plans?
One thing I am looking forward to is an opportunity I will be taking this summer with Operation Groundswell. Operation Groundswell leads backpacking trips all around the world that center on activism and ethical travel. I will be going to Kashmir for 40 days to work on a service project at Secmol, which is a democratic school devoted to students who are not served by the government, and I will be backpacking through the Himalayan Mountains with my team!

Since I love backpacking, another one of my future goals is to thru- hike the Pacific Crest Trail sometime in the next 5-10 years. That would mean taking about 5 continuous months of hiking from the Mexican border to the Canadian border through California, Oregon and Washington.

I will also be looking for a teaching job near Minneapolis to start next school year. My dream position would be at a middle school for either Social Studies or Math (my minor).

Halley WintersMajor: History
Hometown: Blaine, MN

Where did you study (describe institution and who were your classmates)?
I studied abroad at the University of Westminster in London, England. The school has 4 campuses spread across central London, and a student population of about 20,000. All of my classes were at the Regent Street campus, which is where the school was established in 1838. My campus was located about a 10-minute walk from Piccadilly Circus (Similar to Times Square in NYC), and only 5 minutes away by tube from Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. The Regent Street Campus is also where the members of Pink Floyd were going to school when they formed the band in 1963.

I had one class that was all British students, and I was the only study abroad student. Everybody thought it was great to have an American in class with them, however I quickly learned that many of them only wanted to talk to me about the election, which got old very quickly. My other two classes were about half study abroad and half British students. The University had approximately 800 study abroad students during the Fall 2016 semester, most of whom were from the United States.

What courses did you take?
I took 3 classes while I was going to school in London, the first was called Imperial Capital World City: London 1750-1914. This course was focused on the rise of the British Empire. The second was Conflict and Commemoration: War and Memory in Twentieth Century Europe. This course looked at the different ways countries in Europe remembered wars that have occurred the years. The last course I took was The Blitz: Image, Impact, Legacy. This class was my favorite, and it focused on the Blitz that occurred over London and other big cities in England during World War II.

Describe the best part about studying history abroad.
The best part about studying history abroad, was that I could actually go out and see the places I was learning about in class, which is something that is rather difficult to do in Winona. There was one particular day in my class on the Blitz, where my professor was teaching about a bombing that had occurred in the financial district of London. After about 10 minutes, he turns to the class and says “You know what, let’s just go there.” So the whole class packed up, and got on the tube for 4 stops. We ended up having class on the steps of the royal exchange that day, and it still blows my mind that we were able to do that.

What was it like to live in London? What were some of the most memorable historical and cultural sites?
Living in London was absolutely fantastic. I love big cities, so being able to live in downtown London was pretty much a dream come true for me, and it was certainly a huge change from living in Winona.

For the class that I took on the British Empire, we had the opportunity to have “field learning experiences” versus having class in an actual classroom. My professor for that class managed to pull some strings, and for our last field learning experience, we had the privilege of going into the archives in the houses of parliament. It was absolutely incredible to see so many original acts of parliament dating back to the 1400’s that were signed by Kings and Queens. That was probably the coolest thing I was able to experience in London. I had the opportunity to go to Stonehenge, which was pretty awesome as well.

Also, traveling around Europe while you are already there is very affordable, so I was able to go to Edinburgh Scotland, Paris, Amsterdam, and Rome during my time in England.

What advice would you give to students considering studying abroad?
Do it. Going abroad for an extended period of time might sound a bit scary, and I’ll admit that I was terrified because I went all by myself. Taking that leap across the pond made me learn a lot about myself, and I became much more independent as a result. Also, if you are considering to study abroad, don’t let the cost deter you. It might be fairly expensive, but I promise that the experience will be worth every penny.

Future goals and plans?
My ultimate goal in the future would be to get a job as a museum curator, because ever since I was younger I have been really interested in museum work.