Fifty Year Anniversary

Program Reflections

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"I've learned a lot about myself on this trip and can't wait to experience the rest of Europe.  My goals of becoming more independent, confident, and assertive have already come true!  Traveling is hard work--anyone who says this program is a 3 month vacation for students is dead wrong!" - 2000 Semester Abroad participant

"The flies are your friends!"  Anyone preparing for the Quarter Abroad in the sixties heard this from Doc Bailey many times.  It was one of his ways to get us involved in "participant observation."  One evening in 1965 I walked with Doc on the streets of Amsterdam and we encountered a student demonstration protesting the Dutch government housing policies.  As Doc was fluent in Dutch, he translated that the Queen had a huge empty palace in the city while many students were homeless.  Next came a loud police demand that everyone leave the area immediately.  "Shouldn't we get inside this café?" I asked Doc.  "Let's watch this…" he replied just as two cops in trench coats handcuffed us and pulled us to their van.  After three hours in a holding cell with the protesters and a newspaper reporter, we were back on the streets of Amsterdam – observing! - Gregory Brindley, 1965 group

Regarding the trans-Atlantic crossing by ship in the 60's: "800 students, two supremely overworked bartenders, about 8 regular passengers and a few crew riding the rowdy autumn storms of the North Atlantic south of Iceland. Bar prices were very cheap, Amstel beer at 11 cents each up to the most expensive drink-a singapore sling at 28 cents per. Cheap because the ship had been condemned for transatlantic travel and they were liquidating the ship's stores. When the Liberty Ships were built for WWII they were expected to be sunk after a few voyages, if they lasted that long. They were not built for the long term...On the ship, many classes were also offered-I am still enjoying a 10 day Art History course from there. Still by far the best Art History course I have had. Half the passengers were American students going abroad, but half were European exchange students on their way home, and they had their own ideas to teach about what we should know about European History and folkways, and how we might comport ourselves without social friction in the various countries of our destinies. Pearls of wisdom beyond price." - Todd Pierce, 1963 group

"There are so many special memories of Europe. However, one of my favorite memories of Semester Abroad is Sandy Soares and Charles Lonie arguing about how many pair of underwear one should take to Europe during the spring orientation class! On a serious note, the spring orientation class was the true key to my successful experience in Europe. I was prepared, and had the opportunity to learn tricks and learn from others' mistakes. 19 years later, I am still very passionate about study abroad and eagerly encourage young people to take the opportunity to study abroad." - Chris (Eidem) Ballman, 1994 group

Fifty years ago, on a cold and rainy November morning in Nürnberg, Germany, Bob Armitage and I headed for Vienna, Austria. We engaged in the typical student method of travel at the time, hitch-hiking (called "autostop" in German) and were well prepared, or so I thought. We had made a large sign reading "Amerikanische Studentinnen, Wein" which we displayed to the passing cars. After the first hour with no one stopping, we became confused and discouraged. It had never taken so long to get a ride previously. After two hours we became even more distressed, especially since we noticed drivers laughing as they passed us. Finally, after about two and a half hours, a car stopped driven by an elderly fellow who introduced himself as an English professor at the University of Linz. He explained that he could not take us all the way to Vienna, but he could drive us to Linz. He also advised us to change our sign if we wanted to get to Vienna. The sign as written proclaimed that we were two female American students in search of wine. I had used the wrong gender endings and spelling! The English professor advised us to change the sign to read: "Amerikanische Studenten, Wien". We had no trouble getting a ride from Linz to Vienna the following morning. And, so we learned a valuable lesson as part of Doc Bailey's first group to Europe: "Ask, even though you think you know".  - Thomas J. Knutson, 1963 group


Tom Knutson and Bob Armitage in Munich, 1963