Professor leads students across continent with ‘Europe by Rail’

Jun 04, 2015

Every other year, Associate Professor of History Kelly McFall, Ph.D. leads a group of students in a trip across Europe called “Europe by Rail.” With the trip almost over, participants are already expressing the transformative experience.

A total of eight students chose to go on the trip this year and have already visited Vienna, Krakow, Prague, and other areas. They still plan to visit Berlin, Budapest, London and other well-known European cities. The group left for the trip on May 18 and will return June 6.

 In a previous story, McFall said he was hoping the students would get a feel for both the culture and what it takes to plan their own trip. Participants said they are getting exactly that. Students have been given the opportunity to travel and make their own conscious decisions such as navigating the subway. McFall said he often leaves it up to individual students to be in charge of leading the group to a specific location.

“[The first time he asked me,] I was a little freaked out,” sophomore Megan MacGill said. “I’m really bad at directions but I’m getting so much better at the subway system. It’s easier now.”

Students noted Prague as one of their overall favorite places to visit, but expressed that, as a whole, visiting Auschwitz made the most impact on them. Senior Gloria Esparza said it helped her take a different outlook on traveling.

“I think the thing I’ve been most happy about is having to visit Auschwitz,” Esparza said. “I’ve learned so much history throughout this trip. We should take advantage of all the experiences out there to learn. I know it’s a vacation and I know sometimes we just want not think about anything and just do whatever is fun. But there are so many other ways and things to learn and you should take advantage of that. Traveling makes you a better person – being exposed to something else brings you out of that bubble we live in.”

Participants said they are glad they decided to take the trip.

“If you’re on the fence about taking this trip, take it,” MacGill said. “You get to experience new cultures, new language, new food and so much history. I’m a big fan of history – you can learn a lot [about the past] and apply it to the world now because history kind of tends to repeat itself.”

“It’s a once in a lifetime thing,” senior Shaughnessy Stockemer said. “It’s great to do it while you’re young, because I think it helps you form character. For me personally, I’m going to take back what I’ve learned on a cultural standpoint and use it because I majored in nursing. I meet people from everywhere.”

A selection of photos taken on the trip with captions included by McFall can be found below.

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