Field school program offers students hands-on learning, travel and lasting friendships

Four Concordia participants reflect on their experiences abroad
October 18, 2018
By Renée Dunk

Photo by Hannah Grabowecky Photo by Hannah Grabowecky

Interested in studying abroad yet daunted by the idea of committing to a term away? Try a field school!

Concordia International’s Short-Term Summer Programs — which range from 10 days to six weeks in countries such as Colombia, Iceland and Israel — allow for international travel while earning credits toward your degree.

Four 2018 field school participants reflect on their summertime study-abroad experiences.

Imagining Iceland

Hannah Grabowecky, a student in the Master’s in Art Therapy program, participated in the Imagining Iceland field school. Kathleen Vaughan, associate professor in the Department of Art Education, led the trip.

It was designed for students to explore textile practices of spinning, weaving, natural dyeing and knitting, while spending four weeks in the Icelandic Textile Center in the city of Blönduós.

Grabowecky says that studying abroad gave her the opportunity to explore, first-hand, specific areas related to her research.

Photo by Hannah Grabowecky Photo by Hannah Grabowecky

“The highlights of my time in Iceland include dedicating a whole month to enriching my artistic practice of fibre art and exploring how textile-based art therapy interventions can be used in medical settings. I also met talented people who turned into lasting friends.”

Her advice for students considering a field school?

“Self-direction, as well as an interest in exploring new materials and techniques, is a must.”

Grabowecky adds that her work in Iceland was very independently driven and hands-on, though extracurricular group activities ran the gamut from workshops about the production of Icelandic wool to a visit to the Blanda Hydro Station.

A transformative month in Israel

Yana Moscovitz, a second-year student in the Department of Biology, spent a month of her summer vacation in Jerusalem as part of a program offered by the Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies.

While taking a course taught by Csaba Nikolenyi, professor in the Department of Political Science and director of the Azrieli Institute, Moscovitz was able to connect with people from a wide range of backgrounds — ultimately opening her up to a world of new ideas, opinions and beliefs.

“We tend to become close to those who resemble us — other biology students, in my case — as we visit similar facilities, clubs or associations,” she says.

“By going to Jerusalem through the Azrieli Institute’s summer program, I became friends with amazing people I wouldn’t have met otherwise, which I'm very grateful for.”

She notes that the opportunity to participate in a field school in lieu of an on-campus course is quite special.

“Not many people get to say that they took field trips for a university course. Learning about the politics of a new country while travelling gives a much stronger appreciation of the material.”

Moscovitz advises students to jump into the field-school experience with both feet.

“It might be scary at first to immerse yourself into a new country, maybe without knowing anyone in your program, but it will be worth it. The stunning views, connecting with lovely people and taking a captivating course made my summer the best one yet.”

Photo by Timothy Charman Photo by Timothy Charman

Fine Arts in Colombia

Timothy Charman and Danielle Savage travelled to the city of Manizales, Colombia, last summer with associate professor of music Ricardo Dal Farra.

This particular field school offers students from a variety of fine arts backgrounds the chance to work on research-creation projects of their own design. In addition to attending workshops and cultural activities at the Universidad de Caldas, students are offered the opportunity to present their work at the annual Festival Internacional de la Imagen.

Charman, a second-year music major, says that taking part in the field school allowed him to meet an outstanding group of creative practitioners in his fellow participants.

“By spending so much time together over 10 days and collaborating on various projects, we were able to build lasting artistic bonds and friendships that continued past the trip itself.”

He says the best thing about his study-abroad experience was performing at the festival in a live telematics jam — in which musicians in different geographical locations made music together via internet streaming programs.

“I was invited by a couple friends that I met in Manizales,” Charman explains. “The team at the Universidad de Caldas had worked non-stop to get all of the equipment working and all of their hard work paid off as we had excellent sound and video throughout the performance. It was amazing to be able to perform in front of a full room with a super-attentive audience.”

Photo by Timothy Charman Photo by Timothy Charman

For Savage, now a graduate of the Electroacoustics Studies program in Concordia's Department of Music, the field-school experience also allowed her the one-of-a-kind chance to discover a new place in the context of her studies.

“It was productive, eye-opening, fun and beautiful all at the same time,” she says.

“It deepened my relationships to my professor and fellow students, as well as gave me an opportunity for real professional development by presenting at the festival.”

Savage suggests that students considering this type of experience approach a field school with an open mind.

“It’s a great thing for people who can work autonomously and a great opportunity overall. Stay adaptable and you will probably have a life-changing experience.”

Learn more about field school offerings at
Concordia International. The 2019 field schools offerings will be published on the website in January 2019.


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