Claire Turner from the top of the astronomical clock in Prague.
Claire Turner from the top of the astronomical clock in Prague.

An Experience Of A Lifetime

Holy Cross Athletics   08-20-2016

By Mary Patalita
Special to

Over the years, the Holy Cross Summer Study Abroad Program has been a great way for Crusader student-athletes to get the amazing experience of studying in a foreign country without missing any of their athletic seasons. This summer, for 15 student-athletes from seven teams at Holy Cross, this program allowed them the opportunity to travel beyond Mount St. James to study abroad. Here is a look into the student-athletes’ experiences in six different Holy Cross Summer Study Abroad Programs.


Class: Russian Language Course at the Russian State University for Humanities

Who: Senior Bridgid Carey (Women’s Rowing)

Why Russia: “I studied abroad because I wanted to fully immerse myself in a culture which I had been studying for three years. Holy Cross gave me the opportunity to go somewhere that I would have never had the chance to see otherwise. I took a class on Russian songs, which was an absolute blast. We watched music videos and sang every class, everything from traditional Russian songs to modern pop and rock songs. Studying abroad not only allowed me to increase my language skills exponentially, but I was able to observe first hand both the similarities and differences between American and Russian cultures, which not many people are able to do!” said Carey.

About The Class: “I took a language intensive one-on-one class with a Russian professor every day for three hours. That was certainly one of the more intimidating aspects of my abroad experience. Additionally, I was in a new place that used a different language with different letters, and the majority of people understood very limited English or none at all. Even buying things at the grocery story or ordering food at a restaurant was difficult. To say I was outside of my comfort zone is an understatement, but the constant practice helped with my comprehension and understanding of Russian and it also forced me to practice it a lot,” said Carey.

Experience: “My favorite part was definitely experiencing a brand new culture and making new friends. The people I met in Russia, as well as the people on the trip with me gave me life-long memories I wouldn't change for the world. It was fun and exciting to explore a culture halfway across the world with people I didn't necessarily know before going to Russia. Overall, it was a great time and I would do it all again in a heartbeat,” said Carey.


Class: Tuscany and the Philosophy of Food

Who: Junior Katie Conners (Women’s Swimming & Diving), senior Gina DeFloria (Women’s Swimming & Diving) and sophomore Sarah Friess (Women’s Track & Field)

Why Tuscany: “Being of Italian descent, I’ve always wanted to go to Italy. I picked this program because of the location, my interest in food and the Italian culture. This being my first time abroad, being with my teammate, Katie, definitely helped ease some of my incoming anxiety,” said DeFloria.

Favorites: “I really enjoyed that we weren’t in a touristy area since we were in such a small town. We were truly able to immerse ourselves in the Tuscan culture this way,” said DeFloria

School: “We took a Philosophy of Food course with a basic Italian language class. Some of my classmates and I stayed on a vineyard called Le Cinciole while others either stayed in a bed and breakfast, La Piazzetta, or at another vineyard, Le Fonti,” said DeFloria.


 British Theatre in Perspective

Who: Juniors Caroline Quinn (Women’s Rowing) and Cammie Loeber (Men’s Rowing)

Why London: “This particular program caught my attention my freshman year, through my mom actually. She was a theater major at Holy Cross from the class of 1991, and one of her favorite professors is one of the two professors who runs the British Theater Perspective course in London. He told her about the course when they were catching up one day, and both my mom and I thought it sounded like the most amazing experience! It was a great way to connect with my mom and learn something totally out of my majors/concentrations,” said Loeber.

Favorites: "The after class field trips to different parts of the city were easily my favorite part of the trip. Our professors were extremely knowledgeable and excited to go somewhere different every day. I also loved the area that we stayed in, Bloomsbury. It was fairly residential, but had lots of coffee shops and interesting book stores," said Quinn.

Brexit While In England: “The craziest part was waking up to find out the Brexit vote passed! It was crazy to be there at such a significant and historical time. I have two local newspapers from the day that I brought back with me,” said Loeber.

Keeping Up With Athletics: “In Stratford-Upon-Avon, Caroline and I actually got to go boating with classmates. We found a place to take out a row-boat, which for a coxswain is perfect practice in giving commands,” said Loeber.


Class: Rome in History and Imagination

Who: Juniors Vanessa Amendola (Women’s Lacrosse), Caitlin Harty (Women’s Soccer), Rachel Marasco (Women’s Swimming & Diving), Kate Spitler (Women’s Cross Country & Track & Field) and Anna Tanji (Women’s Lacrosse)  

Why Holy Cross Summer Study Abroad Program: “When my older sister studied abroad going into her junior year, I knew that was something I wanted to do. She was also on the lacrosse team at Holy Cross, so I knew that a Maymester was the perfect option to have an abroad experience without sacrificing time from lacrosse,” said Amendola.

Traveling Outside Of Rome: “I'm so happy I traveled outside of Rome because I have no idea when I'll travel back to Europe. I went to the Amalfi Coast (Sorrento and Capri), Copenhagen in Denmark and Interlaken in Switzerland. After my program was over, my brother and sister came, and we went to Florence, Pisa, Barcelona and Berlin,” said Amendola.

Keeping Up With Athletics: “Our classes did not start until 10:00 a.m., so a few days during the week I would run to a park near the Colosseum. Some days I would do longer runs around the Colosseum, and on other days I would stay in the park doing short sprints. The mix of tourists and Italians walking around was a great distraction and always kept me entertained,” said Harty.

Class: “Our classes were at the Notre Dame campus in Rome. Walking to class, we passed the Colosseum every day! In the mornings we took an Italian class with an awesome professor named Gitti for an hour, and then Professor Martin or Seider would come in and teach us Roman history or literature. In the afternoons, our professors led us around Rome to different sites such as the Roman Forum, the Pantheon and the Vatican Museum,” said Marasco.

Favorite Part: “It is almost impossible to pick one thing as my favorite part because every aspect of it was so incredible, but I would have to say it was going from being so out of my element with people I hardly knew in a city I was unfamiliar with, to feeling right at home with good friends in a city I loved! That transition and growth made it really difficult to leave, but it also made everything so much more worthwhile,” said Tanji.

Favorites: “My favorite part about my study abroad experience was meeting other Holy Cross students, who before I only knew by name or face, and some I didn’t even know at all. We all share this unique experience now after traveling around together for a month, and it’s great to know that when I return to Holy Cross in the fall I will have 18 more people to say hi to and hang out with,” said Spitler.

Class: Roman Catholicism and Pilgrimage

Who: Junior Meaghan Celmer (Women’s Lacrosse), senior Joseph Metzger (Men’s Soccer) and sophomore Jenny O'Brien (Women’s Swimming & Diving)

Why Rome: “I wanted to study abroad in order to experience a new culture and a new place. I picked a Maymester because it was the perfect amount of time for me. I chose to go to Rome because I have been there once before and felt like it was a place I would definitely want to be able to spend more time,” said Celmer.

Experience: “My favorite part was just being able to explore completely new places with my friends. I loved how beautiful Rome was. Famous historical monuments and buildings are located in the middle of the city that you can just casually pass by every day,” said Celmer.

Favorites: “The trip was such an amazing experience. I’d like to thank my mom and dad for allowing me to go on the Maymester. My favorite site in Rome was the Pantheon,” said Metzger.


Class: History, Memory and the Holocaust in Central Europe ( Prague, Berlin, Krakow, Lodz, Lublin, Warsaw, Vilnius)

Who: Junior Claire Turner (Women’s Cross Country & Track & Field)

Why “History, Memory and the Holocaust”: “I decided to do a Maymester because I am a three-season track athlete, so going abroad during the school year wasn't an option for me. I have been interested in the Holocaust and World War II since elementary school, so I was eager to learn more about the era. I am also a Political Science and History major with a concentration in Peace and Conflict Studies so this program fit perfectly into my academic program as well,” said Turner.

About Class: “Our class was on the Holocaust in the four countries that we visited (Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic and Germany). We visited sites where the Holocaust was carried out such as the Ponar Forest, Auschwitz,Terezin and the House of the Wannsee Conference in Germany where the Final Solution was planned. Everyday we would embark on a five to six hour walking tour and then the day would be finished off with a class meeting for roughly two hours where we would discuss what we saw that day and how it fit in with in with our daily readings. We stayed in local hotels during our stays,” said Turner.

Experience: “We moved from city to city every four to five days. My favorite city we visited was Prague. There was so much to do and see there. The Old City was perfectly preserved, unlike many other European cities in the region. The view from the top of the astronomical clock was incredible. I explored Prague more than any other city. I walked over the Charles Bridge multiple times and had to pleasure to view both the sunrise and sunset from it,” said Turner.

New experiences: “I ventured outside my comfort zone on a daily basis. I could not speak any of the languages of the four countries that we visited, so I was unable to read street signs, public transportation and even items in the grocery store. However, that did not stop me from using public transportation with my fellow students without our professors and try new items in both restaurants and from the local markets. I became far more independent than I was before I left the USA,” said Turner.

All 15 student-athletes had different perspectives and experiences while on their Holy Cross Summer Study Abroad trips, however they all gained an invaluable opportunity to study abroad during the summer months. Learning from their host institutions and Holy Cross professors who traveled with them, these student-athletes were able to absorb new information in the place that their course was based out of. Returning to Holy Cross this fall, they will come back to the Hill with new experiences to share with old friends as well as bring with them new friends that they bonded with thousands of miles away.

Mary Patalita is a senior on the women's lacrosse team. Patalita studied abroad in Rome in the summer of 2015.

Go Here To Learn More About the Holy Cross Summer Study Abroad Program

To support our amazing student-athletes, please consider making a gift to the Crusader Athletics Fund by going here.

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