Ohio Northern University recently offered 8 study abroad development grants to faculty. The university felt that this was a wise investment because it wants to expand the study abroad experiences of the students here. As it stands, ONU sends around 5% of its students on study abroad trips. Bluffton University, a much smaller school, sends around 30% of its students on study abroad trips. While the national average for private liberal arts schools sending students abroad is 51%.

Dr. Strittmatter is taking the opportunity to offer a course this semester called World War Memory in Normandy and the Western Front as a result of ONU’s new initiative to promote study abroad opportunities for students. Students who take this course will learn about America’s involvement in the world wars in Normandy and the Western Front. 

Promotion Video for the course: World War Memory in Normandy and the Western Front (Video/Ohio Northern University History Program)

For the first 6 weeks of the course, the students will learn about the historical sights they will see. They will also be briefed on some of the practical aspects of the trip. The trip overseas will be an eleven-day trip during Spring Break. The students will begin the trip in Paris, France. They will see the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Arch de Triumph and much more. The students will then travel to a small town named Ypres. 

In this town, there is a memorial for WWI called the Menin Gate. Every evening since 1929, the Last Post tribute has been played here to commemorate the lives of the soldiers who died in the war. This tradition was halted for 4 years during the German occupation from 1940-1944. When Ypres was liberated by Polish forces in 1944, the sound of the bugles rang out over the city once more that very evening, though battle raged on in the background. The students may have the opportunity to lay a wreath at the memorial during this ceremony to leave a tribute themselves to honor the soldier who died in World War I. 

After exploring the small Belgian town of Ypres, the students will travel on to Normandy where they will see the Bayeux Cathedral and walk the D-Day beaches. After two nights here, they will return to Paris, and then to America. 

The course will cost $4,200 unless the number of students that sign up ranges in the 20s. In this case, there may be a refund to the students which could be anywhere between $500 and $600. 

The students who go on this trip will, “encounter different cultures, learn to adapt to changing circumstances, and will become more confident” according to Dr. Strittmatter. Strittmatter also stresses this may be the only time students will be able to travel to remote places like Ypres. While Paris is a relatively easy city to travel to, it takes more initiative to go to smaller cities nearby. The traveler would have to rent a car in a foreign land and learn to drive according to the metric system. By traveling with the study abroad program, the students will get to see more remote places which they may not have the chance to see otherwise. 

This course offers students the opportunity to travel abroad and see the places that they have learned about with their own eyes. To tread foreign soil, and immerse themselves in new cultures and new ideas. 

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