Students who have participated in The Abbey study-abroad program with The University of Southern Mississippi agree the program was a life-changing experience. Junior art history major Kyle Simmons, a spring 2013 participant, was sad to hear of the suspension of the program due to budget issues.
“It is a different way of life,” Simmons said. “It was a good thing to get a break from Hattiesburg. …hopefully USM will realize what it lost and bring the program back soon.”
Over the past 12 years, the program has hosted around 550 students from several universities in a 1,000-year-old abbey in the village of Pontlevoy, France.
During the program, students spent the semester attending regular classes but with the added excitement of learning through the study- abroad program. With courses in French, art history, history, religion and literature, students were able to travel to places like Berlin, Rome, Dublin and Paris while taking their basic courses.
Simmons said those participating in the program were under the instruction of many knowledgeable, passionate professors who took their students to explore and learn on the streets of Paris.
“Being in Europe and getting to learn in these great cities added to my learning experience,” he said. “Instead of just looking at pictures of great artworks, we got to visit them.”
Students also had the opportunity to travel and explore independently for a week and visited the Louvre, Musée D’Orsay and the European Impressionism Museum.
“It is sad news that the program is suspended because it was such a new opportunity for me to learn things in a way that I could not on the Southern Miss campus,” said Anna Kate Baygents, a sophomore international studies major. “The program is different than the British Studies program in that you spend three months overseas instead of one and it feels like you become a part of the village.”
Although Southern Miss no longer hosts The Abbey program, students who are interested may go through The University of West Florida.
For more information, visit the International Programs website at usm.edu/study-abroad.