Alison Perelman, The Miami Student
Many Miami University students spent winter term catching up on sleep, watching countless episodes on Netflix and eating too much comfort food. Others took the opportunity to spend time in completely different countries - climbing mountains, volunteering with locals, touring historical sites and experiencing unfamiliar cultures.
Hiking in Peru
Senior Adrienne Moncrief traveled to Peru with the KNH 402 Health and Culture program. The group started in the capital, Cuzco, with visits to archeological sites in the mountains before heading on a six-mile hike up the last leg of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
"[The hike] was very physically challenging, but so rewarding and so empowering, too," said Moncrief. "It just made me feel so much stronger, physically and mentally."
Moncrief decided to go on the trip because she had always wanted to see Machu Picchu, but the experience turned out to be more than she could have dreamed.
"I remember learning about [Machu Picchu] in school, seeing it in textbooks or on Google images, and it's just not the same," said Moncrief. "It's so much more beautiful and impressive than you could ever imagine."
The group headed back to Cuzco for a night, then took a bus to Puno, where they went on a boat tour of Lake Titicaca - visiting three of the islands and staying overnight with a host family.
Adrienne's host family didn't speak English, and she was the only student there who spoke any Spanish. But she wasn't worried at all. It was simply another challenge, another mountain to conquer.
"We all got a really good idea of what the culture is like in Peru," Moncrief said. "I think we were all pushed out of our comfort zones." The group ended the trip in Lima, where they explored markets, tried new foods and interacted with locals.
"As I see more and more of the world, I'm just so fascinated by its diversity and how each place you go, there's a different culture, a way of life, different religion, different dress, different food, different music," said Moncrief.
Studying theatre in London
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Senior Andrew Lynn flew across the pond to London with a program through Miami's theatre department.
While abroad, the students took two classes and met with guest speakers, including an actor from the UK version of "The Office" and Noma Dumezweni, who was recently cast as Hermione in the upcoming play, "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child."
One of the features of the program was the opportunity to see seven different theatre productions. "Cymbeline," performed with only candles for lighting, was one of Andrew's favorites.
Given their location, Shakespeare was a large part of the program's content.
"We all grow up hearing about Shakespeare, so it was very interesting to go to Stratford-upon-Avon and see all those historical sites and go to the new Globe Theatre," Andrew said. "[It] brings American education full circle."
Comparing Arabian economies
When senior Ian Marker told friends and family where he was studying during winter term, he always had to reassure them that he'd be safe.
Marker traveled to Oman and the United Arab Emirates with a religion class focused on Arabian Gulf economies and social transition. While there, the students kept to a strict itinerary. They met with businesses, had small group discussions and kept a daily journal.
The group compared their two destinations, analyzing each by the influx of money and the presence of oil.
"My favorite part was seeing the transition between the really cultural and traditional Oman to its neighbor country, UAE, that is just this economy of corporations and money," Marker said.
While in Dubai, the group was given a free day, but had to remember that the laws were completely different.
"It was interesting to learn how to control yourself and not just think you're in America and do what you want or say what you want," said Marker.
Volunteering in Jamaica
Being in Jamaica for winter term felt like home to senior Tola Adedipe, whose family is from Nigeria. She traveled abroad with a political science class studying globalization and development in one of the world's most underdeveloped countries.
The first half of the program was spent working one-on-one with Jamaican locals before visiting the more tourist-heavy areas.
"We fell in love with the real Jamaica before we saw all the familiar stuff," Tola said.
The students volunteered at a retirement home, spent time with students at a local school and built houses for people in need. The experience made Adedipe reconsider what she might want to do after graduation.
"[It] just really opened my eyes to the amount of help different individuals actually need and it made me feel like I want to do something more - especially with my major - something that can give back to these people or at least help them build better schools, better roads, something that will help the people advance in their society," Adedipe said.
Adedipe learned a lot from a Jamaican woman who benefited from the housing-development program. This particular woman was driven and worked hard to fulfill her dreams - dreams that, to Americans, might seem very simple.
"I think my favorite memory was just watching her talk about how she's supporting her four kids and how she is basically triumphing in this battle," said Adedipe.