Le Moyne Students Experience a New Culture

More stories from Ashley Goyco


Thirteen Le Moyne College students, accompanied by Dr. Julie Olin-Ammentorp and Dr. Holly Rine, went on an 11-day visit to Paris, France, this past winter break, where they were able to experience the importance of food and the simplicity of French culture.

Throughout the trip, the class discussed how French culture differed from American culture. Dr. Olin-Ammentorp claimed, “It’s not all men in berets carrying baguettes . . . although you do see a lot of people with baguettes, and who can blame them, because French baked goods are so delicious!”

The experience of a different culture helped many students “think about different ways life can be led and different values that different societies hold,” she continued.

Julia Hofstetter, a junior who went on the trip, noted how different French culture was from American culture. “Their life is much simpler than Americans’,” she said. “They aren’t always in a hurry like we are.” Hofstetter further noted that food is very important in French culture and that normally it takes two hours to finish a meal. “In class, we weren’t able to grow a bond,” she said. “But in Paris, we were able to enjoy ourselves and spend time getting to know each other while sharing a meal.”

Molly Vadala, another student on the trip, said Paris taught her to appreciate non-fiction writing more. “Being able to appreciate the world and seeing the beauty of Paris that gave the inspiration to artists like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Wharton was incredible,” she said. “There is so much out there to inspire authors and artists, but nothing like Paris.”

Dr. Rine, an associate professor of History, joined the Paris trip as an extra chaperone and because she wanted to travel with students since she is considering developing a travel course. Rine said that as a historian, she enjoyed experiencing Paris. “The course was a literary course, so I was introduced to the literary history of Paris, which was a lot of fun and has now added to my reading list,” she said.

One of Dr. Olin-Ammentorp’s favorite moments was when the class first visited the Place du Trocadero. “When we arrived at the airport outside Paris, our guide and bus driver took us on a scenic tour through the city,” she recalled. “We stopped at the big square overlooking the Eiffel Tower. Everyone got out and took in the view, and we knew we were really in Paris! One of the students said, ‘Best Monday ever!’ It was a wonderful moment.”

The trip took place January 7-18, 2018. While there, Dr. Olin-Ammentorp and her students visited many tourists’ attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Notre Dame Cathedral, as well as many attractions that Dr. Olin-Ammentorp said tourists often miss, such as the Chambord Chateau located in the Loire Valley, the Orsay Museum, and the Cluny Museum.

Students that took ENG 329: “Literary Paris: Americans in Paris,” taught by Dr. Olin-Ammentorp, were eligible for this trip, and each student was required to pay about $3700, which covered the cost of airfare, the hotel, some meals, and tourist attractions.

During the Fall 2017 semester, those students studied many works and films about Paris and the American experience in Paris. For instance, they read Edith Wharton’s A Son at the Front and watched Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. The purpose of these texts, said Dr. Olin-Ammentorp, was to allow students to have a much deeper and meaningful experience in Paris than the usual tourist experience.

The last time Dr. Olin-Ammentorp taught ENG 329 was four years ago, in Fall 2013. She said she would encourage students to take this course in the future because “there is so much wonderful literature written by Americans about the experience of Paris, and Paris itself is such a wonderful city. Reading the literature and going to the city – each enhances the other in a way that is impossible to achieve in any other way.”

Faculty-led short-term study abroad courses, such as this one, have been in place for about 10 years, according to Dixie Blakley, Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences. The first was “Literary London,” in the fall of 2008. In each case, students take a semester-long course followed by a study abroad trip that complements the classroom experience.

Other courses have studied and made trips to Venice and Costa Rica. Students must fill out an application given by the professor of the course who then reviews each application and sends the accepted list to the registrar. For those accepted, financial aid is given to help fund the short-term study abroad trips.

The O’ Leary Travel Fund, named after and funded by Harriet L. O’ Leary, who was a professor of Foreign Languages and Literatures, gives help to those students with real financial need. There are two branches of the fund, one of which awards up to $2000 to students studying abroad for a full semester, and the other up to $600 to each student on a short-term trip.

Students are required to fill out an application as well as submit an essay to the O’Leary Committee. The grant recipients are required to give back to the college and help promote the study abroad program by either writing about their travel experiences or working with the Global Education Office.The travel fund is highly competitive, but it funds lots of students each year. Every semester there are opportunities for students to take a faculty-led study abroad course, such as the “Literary Paris” trip. “It’s a hugely popular program,” Dixie Blackley, who oversees the O’Leary Travel Fund, said.