Adventures in Europe: Students explore tourism from inside a top destination

by Matt Overing

Centre College students visited the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, as part of their "Economics of Business" summer study abroad course.

It was a simple task for students in ECO 252: Economics of Tourism: be tourists.

And what better location than France — the No. 1 tourist destination in the world — for students to learn about the economics of tourism?

Blazer Professor of Economics and Business David Anderson recently led a group of 12 students to study abroad in Strasbourg, France, where he applied a simple adage for the group to consider while they explored historical sites and landmarks.

“Life is a challenge, and one of the greatest hacks we have is to go to other places and see how people are navigating these issues that we all face,” he said.

Anderson said the summer course is a great opportunity to study abroad. Whether it’s for athletes or pre-med majors who struggle to get away for a full semester, a summer course provides a good mix.

“I think if you're apprehensive about going abroad, going with a class like this is great, because it’s planned for you — you're there with friends and leadership,” Anderson said. “Unlike a lot of colleges where they farm out teaching to study abroad companies, your Centre professor that you might've already had or know is with you. You've got a group of friends from the very beginning.”

Along with visiting historical sites, like the Eiffel Tower and European Parliament, students observed on a local level how tourism impacts people and places.

Rising junior Tyler Kinney (Ashcamp, Kentucky) said that he took note of how global travel was embraced with multilingual displays and gift shop offerings throughout tourist destinations.

“We also saw how cities made efforts to preserve or restore their historical settings to draw in tourists and how the economies catered to tourists,” he said.

Kinney opted for the course partly because of his major of economics and finance. But he’s also curious how the world looks through different cultures — he’s studied abroad in Japan and is currently continuing his summer European adventure with a course in Austria.

“I can say that understanding the world from simply a domestic perspective is not enough,” he said. “To understand other countries is to understand the world around you. You understand how to approach people of different cultures in a respectful way that allows you to work together.”

It was a particularly special trip for rising sophomore Chaney Garrison (Mount Sterling, Kentucky). She had been to Strasbourg previously with her family, and this summer was the 30-year anniversary of her mother, Kristi Ann Smith ’95, studying abroad in Strasbourg as a Centre student.

Rising sophomore Chaney Garrison, pictured at right years ago with her sister (left) and mother (center). Garrison's mother, Kristi Ann Smith '95, studied abroad in Strasbourg as a student at Centre.
Rising sophomore Chaney Garrison, pictured at right years ago with her sister (left) and mother (center). Garrison's mother, Kristi Ann Smith '95, studied abroad in Strasbourg as a student at Centre.

“When the course was announced it was exciting for me, because it was a full-circle moment,” Garrison said. “I didn't tell (mom) when I applied to the course, I waited till I got accepted. I told her, and she was just speechless.”

Garrison said she enjoyed diving deeper into the museums and landmarks — more than what you’d typically see as a tourist.

“We got to learn more about what we were seeing, more than just surface level,” she said.

An example of that was what students learned about the intersection of public policy and the economy of tourism in regard to sustainability and efforts to keep landmarks and natural attractions intact.

“I was very inspired by France's sustainable practices,” Kinney said. “They don't use plastic bags at all. France and Strasbourg are very advanced in their recycling techniques, and the city calls itself a green city.”

Rising senior Abby Jamison (Floyds Knobs, Indiana) said the class was the perfect blend of coursework and adventure, as students were free to explore local communities on weekends. Those experiences led to some real-world learning experiences, including a trip to Switzerland hampered by a delayed train and a stressful return to Strasbourg.

“It was one of those experiences that challenged us to get out of our comfort zones a little bit,” Jamison said. “We realized that the way they travel in Europe is so different. None of us had experienced that before. I look back now and think, 'that was fun.'”

Jamison added that she knows some students might be apprehensive, because friends might not be joining them on the journey — she had those same reservations. But this summer changed her perspective.

“I think that's a really unique thing you see in study abroad,” she said. “You're doing those daily things that bring you together, like going to the grocery or traveling. I think a big apprehension for a lot of students is 'I don't know anyone' or 'none of my friends will do it.' Having gone through it now — you're going to meet people and make friends.” 



This article is featured as part of the Centre Summer Adventure series, highlighting experiential learning through study abroad and away opportunities across the globe.