Students Travel Across the World as Part of Sophomore Residental Seminars


The lively bunch poses in a Jamaican national gallery after studying and living together for a semester. 

The Sophomore Residential Seminars program (SRS) recently concluded its set of trips for members of the Class of 2018. In its fourth year of installment, the program features five seminars: three international trips to Jerusalem, Jamaica and Turkey, and two domestic trips to San Francisco, California and Austin, Texas. During winter break, from January 6 to January 13, students embarked on the trips they had been waiting for since the beginning of the fall semester.

The program has many defining characteristics, among them the obvious travel element, but likely more important is the tremendous community created in sophomore residential halls. Two of the international classes, Jerusalem and Istanbul, occupy 100 Hamilton Street and the other three reside on the fourth and fifth floors of Drake Hall. Students of the Drake classes could often be found working on assignments together in massive groups in their fourth floor classroom with students in 100 Hamilton behaving in much the same way.

The trip to Jamaica featured seven days of immersion and observation of a

distinctly Caribbean culture. The seminar was a Caribbean literature course titled “Empire and its Aftermath.” Students learned about the countries’ rich history and culture. The nations’ culture blends elements from several different groups: the native Taino people, Spanish colonialists, English colonialists, formerly enslaved Africans East Indian and Chinese migrants.  

“It’s so hard to pinpoint just what was my favorite part of Jamaica. I really enjoyed our trip to Firefly estate in St. Mary where we got an awesome view of the northern coastline,” sophomore Tyler Maxie said.

Similarly, the trip to Jerusalem granted students the opportunity to immerse in a city whose history combines that of many different peoples. The course titled “Jerusalem: City of Gods” allowed students to visit religious sites like the Western Wall and The Dome of the Rock. 

“We visited so many historical, loved, contested areas. It was incredible to see how each Abrahamic religion fought over areas but also coexisted in the same areas across different time spans,” sophomore Taylor Washing said.

The trip to Istanbul, Turkey was preceded by a “Challenge of Modernity” course. The class visited popular attractions like the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and even toured the Bosporus region. 

The trips to San Fransisco and Austin were a little closer to home but still somehow felt worlds apart as students considered vastly different aspects of the American experience. The trip to Austin followed a course titled “Hunting, Eating and Vegetarianism” while the trip to San Francisco was centered on a course titled “Sexual and Immigrant Cultures.”

Students traveling to San Francisco embraced the city’s history, one that has made it a mecca for different sexual movements and a safe heaven for a thriving immigrant community. Students stayed in the Castro, a historically prominent LGBT community. The trip to Austin allowed students to visit a city very connected to nature and even visit an aquaponics farm, accomplishing the goal of the SRS program by applying what they had learned in the classroom to real life.

Recruitment for the fifth annual set of trips has begun for the Class of 2019 with seminars and trips centered around Spain, Greece, India and Istanbul.