Study Abroad: Summer Humanities come alive in the culture-rich city of Prague

Of all the mandated courses at Geneseo, the most dreaded is often Humanities: an eight-credit two-class series that tries to cover centuries of western history in a survey format. Simply put, there is too much subject matter for a student to have a full educational experience in the confines of a classroom.

Humanities abroad offers a unique and unforgettable solution to this problem. Over the summer, I enrolled in the Humanities II course in the city of Prague in the Czech Republic. Constantly surrounded by the effects and remnants of the very material I was studying, the trip impacted my understanding of modern western society in ways no Humanities lecture could ever duplicate.

Our study of Sigmund Freud, for example, led us to Vienna, Austria. There we took a tour of the Freud museum located within the psychologist's actual house. We moved on to a lecture about the Holocaust, and our instructor, Dr. Cynthia Klima, made these topics come alive for us like no textbook ever had done by bringing us on a tour of Prague's pristine Jewish quarter, and later to a former concentration camp called Terezin in the Czech countryside.

Aside from our studies of Western history, our residence in Prague gave me hands-on insight to Czech culture. Sampling cuisine, shopping at the marketplace and watching a televised Czech soccer game with hundreds of other fans in the Old Square immersed everyone in the true Bohemian lifestyle.

Another memorable feature of the trip was the bonding that occurred between all of the members of our class. Living as well as learning together allowed us to get to know each other much more fully than if we had just taken this course as a regular class on campus. In the evenings, we became even closer through group dinners and outings to some of the local Czech nightclubs.

In short, the idea of a Humanities class may make some students cringe as they remember all of the information summarized to them over the course of the semester. Humanities abroad, however, offers a much different approach: a shorter time span (only four weeks) with a greater focus on individual events, along with informative and relevant tours and trips.