Thursday, September 22, 2022
Christian Frank at the top of Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh, Scotland
Christian Frankl at the top of Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh, Scotland, wearing his Hawkeye Marching Band jacket.

Even though the fall 2022 study abroad fair has wrapped up, the opportunity to explore study abroad experiences continues throughout your time at Iowa. A perfect example of this lies with the experiences of Christian Frankl, a rising senior who studied abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland, in spring 2022, and can be found leading the Hawkeye Marching Band this fall as the drum major.

“My sister went abroad to London when she was in college and had a great experience studying at a new university in a new city and making new friends,” said Frankl. “So I knew I wanted to study abroad, but didn’t actually go abroad until the second semester of my junior year to do it.”

Majoring in political science (pre-law) and music, Frankl sought out opportunities to study in a place that would complement his academic program and allow him to continue on a path toward graduation without setting him back academically.

Christian Frankl with four friends in the Scottish Highlands
Christian Frankl (left) with friends visiting the Scottish Highlands after learning about the Highlands in their coursework at the University of Edinburgh.

“I chose to study at the University of Edinburgh on the Regents Semester in Scotland program through conversations with my academic advisor, Martha Kirby, and my study abroad advisor, Ana Jimenez,” explained Frankl. “We talked through the classes I could take abroad and how they would fit in to my overall academic plan; making sure to find courses with credits that would transfer easily. I ended up taking two political science courses and an art history course on visualizing Scotland. I liked that I was able to study in a place that was a larger city and had a lot of international students studying at the university who were in a similar situation as me.”

Frankl found himself in a peculiar position while studying abroad though. As a member of the University of Iowa Hawkeye Marching Band, Frankl began thinking about auditioning for the drum major position during his second year at the university. Not afraid of a challenge, Frankl worked hard to plan how he could study abroad during the same semester in which he hoped to compete at an in-person drum major audition in Iowa. He made it work by flying back to the United States mid-semester to audition, then returned to Scotland to complete his study abroad program.

“My best piece of advice is to stay in contact with your study abroad advisor and your academic advisor to make sure the program you are pursuing works for your educational goals.”

“In a lot of situations, it would be difficult to do something like this, so the decision was thoughtful and planned out,” said Frankl. “While I was abroad, I focused on meeting new people, studying so I could excel in my classes, and utilizing time management strategies learned over the years so I could also spend time each week training and preparing to interview for the drum major position.”

Four to five times a week, you could find Frankl atop a hill in Arthur’s Seat, a park-like area near Frankl’s dorm in Edinburgh. There, Frankl spent time practicing his mace routines after his coursework was completed, and teaching some of his new friends about the drum major position, too.

“Many of the friends I met didn’t necessarily know what a drum major was or what the mace I used for marching was, so that was neat to be able to share experiences with people I wouldn’t have met if it wasn’t for studying abroad,” said Frankl. “Some of the friends I made were from France and the Netherlands and after our studies were done, we took a backpacking trip through the Highlands. It was beautiful being able to connect what I learned in my visualizing Scotland course at Edinburgh to the natural beauty of the Highlands, and share that experience with my new friends.”

Christian Frankl, drum major
Christian Frankl as the drum major of the UI Hawkeye Marching Band during a fall 2022 football game.

Frankl credits other Iowa students studying abroad at the same time as him, along with the new friends he met in his coursework, for supporting him through his drum major audition. Now in the middle of the marching band season and reflecting on his time abroad, Frankl had this piece of advice for future students considering and/or planning to study abroad while at the University of Iowa:

“My best piece of advice is to stay in contact with your study abroad advisor and your academic advisor to make sure the program you are pursuing works for your educational goals,” shared Frankl. “Be open to different programs, too, and be open to the things your advisor tells you because they have a lot of great advice for you.”



Interested in studying abroad during your time at the University of Iowa? The Study Abroad office is excited to help you plan and execute your international experience! Once you're ready, our expert team of advisors can walk you through each step of the way, from deciding which programs can help you advance your degree to funding opportunities, and more.

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International Programs (IP) at the University of Iowa (UI) is committed to enriching the global experience of UI students, faculty, staff, and the general public by leading efforts to promote internationally oriented teaching, research, creative work, and community engagement.  IP provides support for international students and scholars, administers scholarships and assistance for students who study, intern, or do research abroad, and provides funding opportunities and grant-writing assistance for faculty engaged in international research. IP shares their stories through various media, and by hosting multiple public engagement activities each year.