Learning on vacation: students trek through Belize and Europe

College of the Mainland student Bethel Moreno hikes through the jungle in Belize on a college study abroad trip.
College of the Mainland student Bethel Moreno hikes through the jungle in Belize on a college study abroad trip.

Hiking through the jungle, snorkeling in reefs and touring the Louvre were a few of the adventures College of the Mainland students had on study abroad trips to Belize and Europe this summer.

Belize 

Students traveled with COM sociology professor Luis Sabido, who is from Belize, on a trip to explore animal habitats and the nation’s many cultures. 

“We got to go to a cacao farm and see where they make chocolate. We saw how hard they work, and it makes you want to work harder,” said student Tiffany Wilcox, of Galveston. “I realized I’m good with people and with communication – that’s something to build on in a career.”

Students visited with the Garifuna people and saw traditional drumming and dancing. 

“We wanted students to interact with different cultures because these are skills companies look for – being able to put themselves in other people’s shoes and see how people form their opinions,” said Sabido.

Bethel Moreno, of Dickinson, is minoring in psychology, which motivated her to join the trip. 

“I learned so much – Belize’s people are so knowledgeable and passionate about their country. Another favorite was the Mayan sites. So much history was packed into one area and it was an honor being able to see the tombs of prior Mayan rulers,” said Moreno. “Snorkeling in the great barrier reef was unforgettable! It's not every day you get to see crystal-clear water with a full habitat living beneath your feet.”

London and Paris

Professor Doug Alvarez and 11 students in his Introductory Psychology class trekked through Europe touring the Freud Museum and one of the world’s first mental hospitals in London.

They explored the senses – touring a perfume museum and “dining in the dark” at a pitch-black restaurant in France with a mystery menu.

"When you lose one sense like sight, your others senses are heightened. We heard other diners speaking different languages. There’s a lot going on,” said Alvarez.

Students also listened to a professor lecture on how French and American mental health treatments and health care systems differ.

“I got to eat iconic foods such as fish and chips from London and crepes in Paris. Also, I got to see the Eiffel Tower light up at night on a breathtaking boat ride that gave view to so many historically important buildings. I was so astonished by all the stunning artwork at the Louvre, especially the Mona Lisa, which I did a report on just last semester!” said student Karol Paredes, of Bacliff. “I learned that there is so much of this world to explore! It's human nature to be scared and I was a little intimidated at first, but once you take that leap you feel so glad and grateful that you did. I can't wait to go on another trip, learn a new language, and hopefully stay for a longer period of time!”

Three students were helped by a COM Foundation scholarship, funded by Alvarez and others, to take the study abroad trip.

Next summer COM will have a “Mind and Matter” tour of Vienna, London and Amsterdam with biology and psychology classes.

Germany and the Czech Republic

Dr. James Heffel and the COM choirs toured – and performed – in Germany and the Czech Republic this summer.

“The Mainland Chamber Chorale and Duck and Cover A Cappella wowed audiences in venues in Leipzig and Prague,” said Heffel.

The two groups presented an hour-long show featuring traditional American music.

“The Vocal Arts at COM represented the College in its finest light, as goodwill musical ambassadors to our European friends,” said Heffel.

COM choirs have previously toured in Ireland and Italy.

For more information about COM study abroad trips, visit www.com.edu/study-abroad.

A group of College of the Mainland students explored the history of psychology in Europe with COM professor Doug Alvarez.
College of the Mainland students Brianna Landry, Karol Paredes, Jasmine Arroyo at the Arc de Triomphe in France.

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