From backpacking across Europe to conducting research in Africa, college students are all across the globe this summer.
It all started with a $100 bet from his father. All it took for Sam Morrison to receive it was to do a backflip every day in 2011.
A year and many flips later — culminating with a YouTube video with over 701,000 views that shows each flip and Sam $100 richer at the end — he decided to challenge himself even more. In his lifetime, he wants to do a backflip on each of the seven continents.
To start crossing some off, Morrison, a senior majoring in information management and technology at Syracuse University, is spending the summer backpacking through Europe and Asia, and possibly down to Australia.
Since starting May 6 in Israel after finishing Birthright (a free, educational trip to Israel for Jewish 18- to 26-year-olds), Morrison trekked to Turkey, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands and England.
And he’s not done. Not even close. He’ll make his stateside return to Syracuse in the end of August.
Although he shared his travels with USA TODAY College from London, he will not be there long. The self-proclaimed “fast-paced person” said he likes to travel at a similar speed.
“This experience is good for me, since I am able to do whatever I want,” he said. “And since I like to move quickly, I will often get bored of a country after two to three days, in which case I move on to the next.”
Looking back at his rapid travels, some of the highlights include racing horses in the desert to the Egyptian pyramids, rioting in Mostar, Bosnia, after the Croatia vs. Italy Euro 2012 match and stealing 50 oranges to make homemade orange juice in Cyprus.
And he continues to take it day by day.
For Whitney Shephard, it all began with a Google search: “summer study abroad public health South Africa.”
Shepard, a junior at the College of William and Mary, discovered a program through Duke University’s Organization for Tropical Studies, and eventually found herself conducting field research in rural areas of South Africa.
The kinesiology and health sciences major said she always dreamed of doing research in Africa, and the program fit perfectly.
Now back in the States, she reflected upon her four-and-a-half week trip. During those weeks, she stayed in four different locations and a three-day homestay in a rural village. HaMakuya, an isolated camp on a river, remains her favorite memory from the trip. Living in spacious six-person tents, she said she could enjoy the scenery while spending the nights around a fire pit just hanging out and talking.
Looking into the future, if she has her way, traveling will remain a staple in her life.
“I love traveling and I hope studying global health will be an avenue to exploring all over the world,” she said.
When Tiffany Kuperschmidt went to study in Paris, she knew no one, and the only plans she had were to go to class for three hours a day. Now, in the middle of the seven-week program, completely in love with Paris, she said she doesn’t regret her decision.
While most college students can choose whether or not they want to study abroad, for Kuperschmidt, a junior at Lehigh University, it was mandatory.
As part of her global studies major and a Global Citizenship program, she was required to study abroad for at least five weeks. Due to other involvements and leadership positions that she holds on campus, a semester away wasn’t a plausible option.
But leaving the States isn’t foreign to her; she went with her synagogue to Israel during high school, and as a college freshman she traveled to Shanghai, China, through the Global Citizenship program.
Now, away for a stint longer than two weeks, she’s taking two classes: French cinema and French language. But what’s made her trip, she said, has been immersing herself into the culture and viewing what the city has to offer. Some of the memorable spots include vintage shops in Le Marais, where Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald used to write, and beautiful gardens where she will sit and read.
Also, in her spare time, she’s made it her goal to go to the only five cupcakeries within the city. With two more to go to, she claims that France may do cupcakes better than America.
Living in the city until the end of July, she continues to create her experience each day at a time.
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