The University of Iowa

Fulfill Gen Eds abroad in Paris, Florence, London, and now Madrid

November 7th, 2011

By Susan Meyer

The Iowa International Summer Institute (IISI) study abroad program kicked off last summer and was well received by participants.

IISI offers six, three-credit General Education classes in Europe for University of Iowa students taught by University of Iowa faculty. These classes take place sequentially in London, Paris, Florence and, added this year, Madrid. All of the classes are taught in English and knowledge of a foreign language is not required.

The classes are taught in three sessions throughout the summer starting on May 20 and ending on August 10. Students are able to choose between taking one, two or three classes, and taking more than one allows students to experience different countries. Independent travel before or after the program is also available.

The summer 2012 program offers coursework relevant to the specific location in which classes are taught.

Elements of Printmaking will be taught in Florence, Language and Society will be taught in London, and Cultures of Spain will be taught in Madrid. The Paris location will offer three courses, including French Civilization, Introduction to International Relations, and World Literature and World Film.

Each class also includes a relevant excursion outside the city.

Michelle Gin, outreach assistant and administrative assistant for short-term faculty-led programs in the Office for Study Abroad, said that the IISI program is becoming very popular. The class in Madrid was added to the program because of this.

“We hope to continue to grow and be able to offer a course in Rome for summer 2013,” said Gin. “Further in the future, the goal is to provide opportunities such as this to various locations outside of Europe.”

Michelle also said that there are scholarships available from the Study Abroad Office for this program. Visit with her in 1111 University Capitol Centre to learn more!

The IISI program provides furnished housing for students, mostly dorm-style. The cost for the summer 2012 program has not yet been determined. Deadlines for applications are December 1, 2011 for the London program and February 2, 2012 for all other locations. The Olympics will be held in London next summer and more time is needed to secure housing. More information about dates and applications is available on the Study Abroad website.

Danielle Pittman and Lauren Scaletta participated in IISI last summer and are now the student ambassadors for the IISI program in the Study Abroad office.

Danielle took the Language and Society course in London and loved it.

“I love to travel, and it was really nice being able to have lots of free time while we were there,” Danielle said. “Class was only a few hours and we had the rest of the day to do anything we wanted. It was nice to have the flexibility to see whatever sights you wanted to see on your own with no other obligations.”

Danielle’s flat was in the Bloomsbury district of London, conveniently located near the British Museum and an Underground (“Tube”) stop. She liked this program because it was very convenient as most of the travel and housing arrangements were already made and she received three credit hours while she traveled.

Danielle was able to travel to Ireland and Scotland outside of her class. She wishes she would have stayed and taken another class.

Her most memorable experience happened when she was shopping with her friend on Oxford Street in London. She was asked to model clothes for a fashion show put on by the local art school for fashion. The fashion show was broadcast on BBC television.

“It was very exciting and something I never expected to do while I was in London!” Danielle said.

Lauren took Literary Classics and Film Adaptation in Florence, Italy. She decided to participate in the IISI program because it was affordable and gave her a chance to study abroad even when it seemed like her class schedule wouldn’t allow it. She would definitely recommend this program to other students.

“Accent in Florence is very accommodating and they set you up in your very own Italian apartment so you are independent while finding the support you need from the program,” she said.

Lauren also liked the smaller class sizes because it enabled her to become very close with her fellow students.

Even though Lauren did not speak Italian, she didn’t find it that hard to get around. She found that a lot of people there spoke English and one person in the group had some basic Italian. She said it was difficult at times but that she learned quickly how to get by.

Lauren really enjoyed making friends with the local Italians. Her favorite memories are from her time wandering around the city. Lauren and her roommate found a great handmade paper shop and made friends with the owner. She loved visiting Cinque Terre, Venice and the islands of Murano and Burano off the coast of Venice.

Lauren says of her experience, “Not only did I have a ton of fun but I grew a lot as a person.”

What are you waiting for? Visit the study abroad office today and speak with the IISI ambassadors, Danielle and Lauren, about their experiences and start planning your own!