Dr. Jason Swanson and three students spent the spring 2019 semester abroad in London. They are, from left,  Arizzona Albright, Catie Archambeau, and Emma Rosenzweig.

Dr. Jason Swanson and three students spent the spring 2019 semester abroad in London. They are, from left, Arizzona Albright, Catie Archambeau, and Emma Rosenzweig.

Emma Rosenzweig had never been outside the United States, and now, thanks to a study abroad program sponsored by the Department of Retailing and Tourism Management, she has lived in London for four months and traveled to eight foreign countries, including France, Spain, Poland, and the Netherlands.

“This was the first time I ever traveled to another country. For me, the best part was being able to do so many weekend trips to different European countries,” said Rosenzweig, a 20-year-old junior Hospitality Management and Tourism major from Long Island, N.Y.

Rosenzweig studied with Associate Professor Dr. Jason Swanson and two other students, Arizzona Albright and Catie Archambeau, in London during Spring 2019 in a rare opportunity to live among a foreign culture rather than just visit it for a few days.

“I absolutely loved getting to know British culture − the small differences like food shopping and getting comfortable with a different currency,” Rosenzweig said. “I got to know London in a very special way, a way I probably will only know a few places throughout my life.”

Swanson felt the same way, especially since his family joined him for the semester. Swanson’s wife, Ellen, is a professor at Centre College, who was also teaching her students in London. The couple brought their two children, Peter (4 years old) and Eloise (6 months old), along for three months of adventure and exploration.

Their favorite part of the journey was visiting the museums, Swanson said. Each one usually had a children’s section that Peter enjoyed, and by reading and explaining things to him, the adults learned too.

The family’s favorite attractions were the British Museum and the Tower Bridge, which includes a glass floor on the high-level walkways between the towers. Peter would even lay face down on the glass almost 140 feet above the River Thames.

Besides having his family along for this experience, Swanson said this trip felt very different from the shorter excursions he usually takes with his students.

On a short-term trip, you’re “with students all the time – at the same hotel or village, and you spend all day together on an excursion,” he said. “In London, it was more like we were on campus.”

Swanson taught HMT 486: Transformative Travels: Exploring the United Kingdom and HMT 580: Trends Analysis in the Hospitality Industry.  Students took other classes through Arcadia University’s London Center.

Rosenzweig felt her four classes were very different from being on campus because her two University of Kentucky classes met only once a week for a longer period and included only the three students who traveled abroad.

“But I feel like I have benefited so much from everything about those classes,” Rosenzweig said. “The class size, the work we did that directly went along with our experience, and the ways we got to know London together.”

And an audience will get to enjoy them getting to know the city in Season 2 of Swanson’s KET television show, Transformative Travels.  Brian Volland, a videographer with UK’s College of Agriculture, joined Swanson and the students for eight days, filming their experiences in the city and even, in some cases, their travels to other countries. 

They filmed enough for three episodes, each focusing on a different student, that Swanson hopes will be ready to air before the end of the year.

Living abroad requires adjustments, but also offers some unexpected benefits.

“For me the hardest thing was adjusting to the time difference and being so far away from the people I love,” Rosenzweig said. “I think it pushed me outside my comfort zone and really helped me grow.”

Swanson enjoyed living in a large urban area, especially when compared to his home in Danville. London offered all kinds of restaurants and entertainment options within walking distance. Even if it was easier or quicker to take a train to a destination, Swanson and his family often walked because the journey would be much more interesting.

London was an ideal study abroad destination, Swanson said.

“It’s very easy to live there and visit there because of our similarities,” Swanson said. “We have the comforts of English and our similar customs, but they have all that diversity built in, too. That’s really nice for the students.”

There are 300 languages spoken in London.

Students also got to observe a crucial time in Britain’s history.

“Instead of just hearing about Brexit on the news, I got to talk to Londoners and attend protests to really understand what was happening,” Rosenzweig said.

Students who want to experience a semester abroad can learn more on the Education Abroad website at http://international.uky.edu/ea.

Anyone who is intimidated by the cost of studying abroad should know that a semester out of the country is often cheaper than out-of-state tuition and expenses. Scholarships available through Education Abroad and the department also can help defer the cost.

“I would absolutely do it again,” Rosenzweig said. “It was such a positive experience, and I really feel that it helped me grow as a person.”

Author: Alyssa Simms
Terms: RTM