Office of Study Abroad announces GALA Spring 2019 European experience

The 2019 GALA trip will stop in Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden and Denmark. Graphic by Lauren Goslee.


In about nine months, 20 Butler students will have the opportunity to travel to Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden and Denmark.

Global Adventures in the Liberal Arts, commonly known as GALA, is a program in which students study abroad with Butler faculty and Butler students. The location for the GALA trip changes each year, as do the courses. The Spring 2018 trip focuses on the Caribbean, and students are currently in the Dominican Republic.

The trip will last from Jan. 19, 2019 until April 19, 2019. It is not major specific and costs $8,900.

In addition, excursions in Italy specifically include the Vatican, Florence, Pisa and Venice.

On other parts of the abroad, students will also visit the Mozart houses, Holocaust Memorial sites, Swedish island Djurgarden, Kronborg Castle and Tivoli Gardens.

Students will continue to pay Butler tuition while abroad, and be able to apply 100 percent of federal and financial aids, outside loans and academic scholarships.

Calie Florek, study abroad advisor at Butler, helps students throughout the entire study abroad process: the research phase, pre-departure phase and when they come back.

“GALA is an opportunity for students to study abroad not just in a city, but a specific region in the world,” Florek said. “Not a lot of universities offer this style of program, and it’s a really great way to see a couple of different countries within a region.”

Each course taken on GALA is part of Butler’s Core Curriculum, and is also co-listed as an elective in the respective area of study. For spring 2019, students will enroll in 14 credit hours.

Each course will count for three credit hours, excluding the five-credit-hour Natural World course. The Physical World will count as a Natural World credit or Physics elective, and covers scientific elements of the outside world.

Additionally, GALA is the only study abroad opportunity offered at Butler in which both of student’s GHS course requirements can be fulfilled. Students get one GHS waived from simply studying abroad, and the trip includes a GHS course called Global Women. Global Women can also count as a history elective, and will delve into the cultural and historical role than women play in global societies.

Art Across Borders, discussed in detail below, will count as a PCA credit or Art elective, and covers artistic representations of immigrants and refugees. GALA’s final course is a social world credit or psychology elective, entitled Determinants of Well Being. It will discuss differences and types of well being.

Sholeh Shahrokhi, an associate professor in Butler’s history and anthropology department, will serve as the resident director for the Spring 2019 GALA trip. 2018 marks her 10th year of employment at Butler, and she considers herself an advocate for global education.

“The appeal of the program rests not just in the destination of choice, more so in the experience gained through that journey,” Shahrokhi said. “There are some things that cannot be simulated, no matter how innovative we are in the classroom. In GALA, it’s the full package of such a visceral education, based on a holistic human interaction. That’s the beauty of GALA. Students will get a full semester of academic immersion, while experiencing six countries at a personal level.”

Shahrokhi taught a social world course on a previous GALA trip titled Political Islam in Paris. In addition to serving as the resident director for the entire 2019 Spring GALA trip, Shahrokhi will teach a class called Art Across Borders.

“Bringing critical analysis into the everyday sense of appreciation for creativity and artistic expressions,” Shahrokhi said, “this class aims to make familiar an otherwise ambiguous idea of border-crossing, statelessness, and the power of art”

Art Across Borders is an interdisciplinary course, as the materials combine interests from humanities and social sciences. Shahrokhi and her students will spend time in each country delving into the roles of refugees.

“By far, majority of the displaced are and remain outside of Europe and North America,” Shahrokhi said. “Art Across the Borders, looks at the creative, artistic expressions both by the immigrant refugees and/or by professional artists who visualize the contemporary life-matters and represent the conditions of being an ‘immigrant-other’ in Europe.”

Another benefit of the Spring 2019 GALA trip is that the trip offers a natural world course. At Butler, these core courses are composed of a three hour lecture and two hour lab. The trip’s natural world course is titled The Physical World, and will be taught in Italy by Butler professor Xianming Han.

The course information ranges from astronomy, to Newton’s theory, and ultimately modern physics.

Han has been teaching Physics at Butler since 1991. He has not participated in a study abroad program before, but has done summer research abroad with students.

“Being able to teach on GALA is so exciting,” Han said. “Teaching Natural World where Galileo walked and studied physics is excellent. In Italy, we will learn some history first hand and physics at the same time.”

Han is one of four professors who answered the call when the office of study abroad sent out an email to gauge professor interest in teaching on a potential GALA trip

“We basically try to reinvent the wheel each year, and the planning for GALA starts pretty organically,” study abroad advisor Florek said.

The process continues by grouping together which professors are interested in teaching in which regions, and piecing together the trip accordingly.

One of the aspects of studying abroad, specifically on a Butler GALA trip, is learning outside of the classroom.

“GALA is unique in that students don’t just sit around in a classroom and get lectured at but they are learning course material in a museum or at a concert to really round out the education,” Florek said.

Some of the additional features of a GALA trip include a non-traditional learning environment and exposure to several new cultures.

“I think there’s tremendous value in putting oneself outside of one’s comfort zone, whether it be with language barriers, food exploration, architectural or artistic exposure, or simply put, appreciating the diversity of human life,” Shahrokhi said. “There’s absolutely nothing like being there: feeling homesick, getting over it, feeling super excited, and getting over it. I think the glitz and challenges of travel — especially travel abroad — matures you in a way, and adds another personal level of learning.”

Emily Dworak, sophomore strategic communications major, is currently on the Spring 2018 GALA trip and believes GALA is a good option for students who want to study in multiple different countries or don’t want to be completely alone in a new country.

“My advice for students planning on going on a GALA trip is don’t really come in with expectations and keep an open mind,” Dworak said in an email to The Collegian. “I would also recommend to meet people from the different countries and explore what each country has to offer, even if it means getting less sleep or skipping some reading homework.”

Taylor Soto, senior psychology major, went on GALA’s spring 2017 trip to the Mediterranean. Soto’s favorite part of her trip was staying with an Italian host family, because it made her feel part of the culture rather than an American tourist. Soto also took note of the atypical learning environment GALA promotes.

“We had class in a bar,” Soto said, “In a hotel lobby, in a living room or our hostel, and on the bus on our way to Mt. Olympus if that tells you anything. I could probably count on my hand the number of times we were actually in a college-setting classroom. It’s great though because you learn about a topic in your text, then quite literally the same or next day, you’re there seeing it in person. I didn’t think I would like that much experiential learning, but I was wrong — it was awesome and so unique.”

Resident Director Shahrokhi has similar advice to students thinking about going on the Spring 2019 GALA trip.

“I want the students signing up to go to Europe next spring to be open to the idea of everything, which is not in the window dressing of Europe,” Shahrokhi said. “I would work to teach them how to embrace that which is beyond the comfortable, repetitive image of Europe as we’re consuming it from a distance. I’m looking forward to that moment when we’re on the ground and the students get a whiff of that air and realize that they’re going to be nineteen once, and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. That moment, for me, is worth all of it.”

To apply, students must have a 2.75 GPA, and all application materials are due by April 20.

You can follow Meghan on Twitter @meghan_stratton.



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