Study USA classes offer abroad experience at home

Study USA programs are short-term, domestic travel classes offered on a variety of topics during intersession terms.

Ole Miss offers four to six different classes during each intersession and has an estimated 30 classes total.

Laura Antonow, program director for Study USA, has devoted much of her time to this program, working to increase courses and include more areas of study so more students can attend.

“It’s a great learning experience for both students and faculty,” Antonow said. “When students learn with multiple senses, they retain things better and it certainly makes it more interesting.”

The program began three years ago in conjunction with the Study Abroad office. It has since been moved into its own program.

Study USA is devoted to creating classes for students, helping them experience their potential careers in action and get field experience before graduation.

Financial aid is available for Study USA classes, and they are in the process of creating a scholarship for the program as well.

”Some students can’t afford to go abroad, and some students don’t want to go abroad,” Antonow said. “Those are both legitimate reasons to consider this program, but the most important reason to consider it is there are really cool things to do in the U.S.”

Taylor Thomas, senior hospitality management major, has been waiting her entire college career to be eligible for the Las Vegas course.

“I have to have this class to graduate, and I’ve been waiting to take it in Vegas since my freshman year,” Thomas said. “You have to be 21 to go on this trip, so I’ve been waiting for three years now.”

For the Las Vegas Hotel Course, students spend seven days in Las Vegas visiting hotel casinos and touring their restaurants and nightclubs to develop an understanding of how hotel operations work.

“I’ll be learning about my field in the field, and the ‘cream of the crop’ of the field at that,” Thomas said. “To me, education doesn’t get much better than that.”

These courses have a different setup from the average lecture course. Some professors require the students to keep a journal of their experiences, while others require final exams and research papers.

The Culture and Tourism in New Orleans course lasts almost two full weeks. These students study popular culture, folk culture and high culture.

Other classes, however, such as the biology course in Miami, are a little different – students take lectures in Oxford before traveling to Miami for fieldwork.

“We can go out one night and potentially find a 15-foot python crossing the road,” Brice Noonan, assistant professor of biology said. “There are places where we can go right down on South Beach where we can walk around and see six-foot iguanas in the grass.”

There are two Study USA classes taking place during this semester, and they will each be traveling for less than a week later in November. These classes study in Oxford the majority of the semester and travel to conventions and shows for only a brief part of the semester.

“It’s a great networking opportunity for the students,” Antonow said. “It really allows them to put what they’ve been learning in the classroom and see it applied to the real world.”

The deadline for Study USA applications for Wintersession is Nov. 15.

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