This unique study abroad program has allowed hundreds of students to chart their own course to Europe since 1963. You will have the satisfaction of planning your own project; carrying out research in a European country of your choice; living, learning and traveling independently; and creating a final project paper that will very likely be the highlight of your academic career at UWRF.
The project paper lies at the heart of SA: Europe . You will develop the project during the spring semester with the help of a faculty project advisor in a particular area of study. This advisor and the SA: Europe staff will help you shape the scope of your study and assist you in making overseas contacts prior to your trip to Europe in the fall. When you arrive in Europe, you will be fully prepared to spend eight to ten weeks focusing on your topic.
Each project is unique and requires an individualized approach to conducting research. Some of the methods that SA: Europe participants use to gather their information in Europe include: conducting personal interviews with contacts, using specialized materials at libraries and museums, doing volunteer work for organizations, and auditing a class or classes at a local university.
SA: Europe participants have done projects in almost every discipline taught on campus. You can develop a completely new and unique project or explore a new approach to a topic that has been done previously.
Imagine being able to spend eight to ten weeks in one country as a temporary “insider” rather than a tourist. You will return from Europe not only with a deeper understanding of your research topic but also with a unique insight into a foreign culture. You will have experienced that culture firsthand, every day, in a thousand different ways--buying warm baguettes at the corner bakery, riding the local tram through town, speaking with a museum guide about your research topic, or picking up some fresh yogurt and fruit from the “mom and pop” grocery down the street.
To get the most out of your immersion in European culture in the fall, you will attend a series of preparatory meetings during the preceding spring semester. These meetings, held on Tuesday evenings, will cover research skills, health and safety issues, travel tips, and cultural information.
The focus of SA: Europe is on you, your project and your travel plans; however, you also have the comfort of knowing that you belong to a group of individualists—UW-River Falls students all over Europe who are going through the same learning and life experiences as you. The entire group meets in Paris for several days at the beginning of September to prepare to travel to their research locations. In November, after you have completed most or all of your project work, you will gather with the rest of the group for a three-day meeting in Levanto on the Italian Riviera. It's a great opportunity to share your experiences of the past several weeks, exchange travel tips, and map out your travel plans for the remaining time in Europe.
SA: Europe allows you to live and work independently; however, you will also be staying in contact with the group leader--an SA: Europe staff member who remains in Europe throughout the fall to provide support, encouragement and advice. He or she will also visit you at your research location to discuss your project. The group leader is committed to helping you have a successful and rewarding experience abroad.
After completing your research and attending the group meeting in early November, you are free to travel until the return flight home in mid-December. By this time you will have developed the travel skills and practical “know how” to take full advantage of your remaining time in Europe. Do you want to spend some time exploring Prague? Maybe a week in a village in Tuscany? Hiking in Switzerland? It's up to you. In addition to traveling, many students wisely use this time to start writing their project papers.