This year’s Global Adventures in the Liberal Arts Europe program kicked off last Friday as 20 Butler students touched down in Barcelona, Spain.
The GALA program is a semester-long study abroad opportunity available to students each spring. Participating students explore specific regions of the world together, trading the traditional classroom experience for a more hands-on, culture-oriented one.
“With the GALA programs, we have Butler faculty members who are experts in the study of various issues in different world regions who are teaching these courses,” said Monte Broaded, international programs director for the Center for Global Education. “Students have the opportunity to learn those courses on site in these places rather than here on Butler’s campus.”
The program is designed to address Butler core requirements, which are supplemented by tours and excursions. Every few weeks, a different Butler faculty member flies out to teach a course relatable to the group’s current location.
During this year’s GALA trip, students begin with a Perspective in the Creative Arts writing class in Spain before flying to France to learn about political Islam in Paris.
The group will continue on to Belgium, followed by the Netherlands and England before arriving in Ireland to finish up the semester.
“I have a hard time saying what I look forward to most,” current GALA class member Matt McCue said. “Spain has already exceeded my expectations, and I know that every other country we visit will do the same.”
While each student has individual goals to accomplish while studying abroad, the GALA program offers a unique approach by allowing students to travel together in groups and do all relevant coursework in English.
“I think the group definitely helps with study abroad,” junior Erica Yothment said. “I would never have gone without a group because it gave me a certain level of comfort and security even though I was halfway across the world from everyone.”
Yothment participated in last year’s GALA trip, which took place in East Asia. She studied courses ranging from Japanese history to Daoism and art in China.
“It was a hard adjustment coming back,” Yothment said. “It was so much easier for me to grasp things that I normally wouldn’t find interesting.
At Butler, if you’re reading something boring, then you just close the book. But if you’re walking around and get consumed by all of it, you have to have some interest.”
The application process to participate in the GALA program can be competitive depending on the location. A participant limit must be maintained for efficient management of students.
“Different regions of the world appeal to different students, but in general, the programs get pretty full,” said Jill McKinney, Butler international programs associate director.
McKinney said that due to the excessive number of applicants for this year’s Europe trip, not all students were accepted to participate.
The GALA program is a unique opportunity in that students pay nearly equivalent Butler tuition directly to the university. Students are also allowed to apply any institutional aid or scholarships toward the trip’s cost.
“I don’t know of a program being offered at any other university similar to the GALA program,” McKinney said. “I think it’s exceptionally rare that students could go on a program like this and pay their regular tuition and scholarships. That’s a pretty amazing testament to what Butler is trying to offer for its students.”
Next year’s GALA program will take place in Latin America, and students will have the opportunity to visit Chile, Argentina and Peru. Information sessions will begin in February.
“Call it vacation or call it class,” McCue said. “All I know is that for the next three months, I will learn and have more fun than I ever have had or likely will in the future.”