Kelly Langford, a current senior, participated in last year’s faculty-led program in Greece with Dr. Ballengee. With the program going again this year, we thought it was a great time to speak with her about her experience.
Q: When choosing to study abroad, what led you to pick this program?
A: When I was a first year student I took a class with the program’s professor, Dr. Ballengee, and she would talk about the trip and encourage students to go. I knew then that this would be something I wanted to do in the future and remained in contact with Dr. Ballengee and maintained a fascination with Greece as a destination. As someone who is very busy during the semester the minimester faculty led program proved to be a good fit for my schedule and the stress of preparing for it was very minimal.
Q: Did your time in Greece meet or exceed your expectations? How?
My time in Greece blended together the ancient and the modern, allowing me to appreciate the rich history of the place while enjoying what the current culture has to offer. This experience exceeded expectations because of this multifaceted dynamic, climbing through ruins of ancient temples and then eating traditional dishes created an environment so much more than just a trip or vacation, it became a way to celebrate a culture and be a part of it.
Q: What was the most rewarding part of your experience in Greece?
To me the most rewarding part was really immersing myself in the culture. I tried to speak in Modern Greek to the staff at restaurants and hotels, order only Greek foods, and to take any opportunity to go on adventures either hiking mountains or navigating cities. Because I made the conscious decision to consistently push myself out of my comfort zone.
Q: Did this program suit you academically? How?
Academically, the program brings together literature, history, cultural studies, and rhetoric. As an English major with particular interest in politics and rhetoric, the program constantly challenged me to think about the underlying forces that create a nation, to question the way tourism acted as an agent and the role we played in this phenomenon. In addition to considering the business of tourism, the trip made me think about the rhetorical properties of history itself, the way a modern nation may use its history to achieve certain goals. Finally I was made to consider the way the myths of Ancient Greece had their own rhetorical functions and how they helped govern the people in ancient times and remain as an influential element today through literature. All of these concepts were so new to me and really changed the way I view the material I read, whether a poem or a history textbook, forcing me to put it into a larger context.
Q: What would you say to encourage prospective students to choose this program?
I would tell prospective students that this program has even more to offer than being a beautiful and exciting destination. For me Greece was this exotic place that I never dreamed I would be able to go to, so this program was a way to go somewhere that was truly impressive in every form of the word but also drastically different than anything I had been exposed to before. My time in Greece was filled with delicious food, fascinating museums and archeological sites, and explorations through beautiful beaches and bustling cities. It also was a way for me to learn lessons and understand academic material that I would not have been able to had it been taught in the United States.