Student Voice


June 12, 2024


Reunion offers chance to reflect

November 29, 2007

“But for now we are young, let us lay in the sun and count every beautiful thing that we see. Love to be in the arms of all that I’m keeping here with me.”

Neutral Milk Hotel said it right for the nearly indescribable feeling that sweeps upon me on the beach of the Ligurian Sea.

Did I ever think that I would be hiking up mountains in Cinque Terra on the coast of Italy? Certainly not. Every day continues to be an adventure.

Thank you, group leader Brad Gee, for bringing the 14 most fortunate students of UW-River Falls to this magical little town of Levanto, Italy. How exciting it is to meet my fellow adventurous travelers after two months of our individual life-altering experiences.

London became my new home. For Brook Radke, Amsterdam became her new home, fully equipped with a cozy apartment and a bicycle. Sam Pankratz made life-long friends in Lincoln, England, that she will continue to visit.

For two months we each stayed in our project destination sites to do interviews, research and/or internships pertaining to our field of study.

Only in these places around Europe could we find such material to learn what we strived to learn.

Jenna Wegner went to England to do a dairy farm study comparison to Wisconsin and extensive research in the field. Kylie Schultz studied the work of Gaudi in Barcelona where his architecture literally makes the city.

We each chose our cities to our liking and personal preferences. Some are smaller towns and some large cities (some more bohemian and some more conservative).

None of us will ever forget the street we came to call our own or the favorite coffee shop down the street that we frequented.

“Going on this trip was a big step for me,” said Wegner.

For those two months I believe that we have each grown stronger mentally and socially.

I was close to running mode from the train station to the hostel in Levanto to see my friends and hear their stories and see their pictures.

Only they can know what I have gone through, and I can understand how they feel about leaving their European friends behind.

“It didn’t feel like we hadn’t seen each other in two months. Paris was only last week,” Pankratz said.

Our first bonding time as a group was in Paris at the beginning of the semester. After that week in Paris, it was hard to imagine that we would not see each other for several weeks and we were about to go out completely on our own in a brand new city and country.

Now, after three wonderful days of sharing love stories and speaking American English, we depart from each other once more for another month of individual traveling. The hostel housing all 15 of us is hectic with train departure times shouted and hostel booking on the slow Internet.

“Everyone’s main concern this weekend is whether or not to go to Florence, Rome or Venice,” Jenifer Biss, fellow Semester Abroad: Europe traveler, said.

-Teresa is a journalism major and a geography minor. She is enrolled in the Semester Abroad: Europe program and has done research on the River Thames in London. She is currently backpacking independently across Europe.

Teresa Aviles is a student at UW-River Falls.