Tuesday, September 5, 2017

September 5, 1967: Leaving On a Jet Plane -- The Institute of European Studies Adventure Begins

I know what I was doing fifty years ago today, and I cannot think of anything else I would rather have been doing. Thanks to my good fortune, I was getting on a flight to London to embark on a two-week study tour of Western Europe with about 200 other college students from throughout the United States.

I say it was my good fortune for several reasons. First, I was fortunate that the faculty and staff of the Vienna campus of the Institute of European Studies (IES) were brave enough to load a large group of college students on five buses to show them (I should say, "educate them about") Western Europe. This study tour kicked off IES's year-long "study abroad" program in Vienna, and it was a great start to the school year. Also, it was my good fortune that at the time such a trip was financially feasible. The dollar was strong and the costs of gasoline, hotel rooms, and meals were a fraction of the cost today, even considering the impacts of inflation. Finally, I was most fortunate to be on one of the buses, thanks to an IES scholarship honoring Sen. J. W. Fulbright. Without that, I would have been back on the University of Arkansas campus. 

The IES Tour Bus at the White Cliffs of Dover Waiting for a Ferry
September 14, 1967

Below is the agenda for the "Western European Field Study Trip." It took the group in my bus to London, Oxford, Stratford-on-Avon (where I saw McBeth at the Globe Theater), Bruges, Paris, Trier, Munich, Salzburg, and Vienna. At different locations, we had lectures from IES faculty members (Porhansl, Benesch, Mowatt, Balekjian, Arndorfer, Fellner), plus local specialists. Of the group, I especially liked Dr. Benesch, who had a relaxed manner, a notable sense of humor, and did not take himself too seriously, as was common among Austrian faculty members.

IES Students in Paris, September 17, 1967

The trip was made more enjoyable by the group of students traveling together in our assigned bus. The long trips provided an opportunity to get to know a bunch of students from campuses scattered throughout the United States. I had a chance finally to meet some Yankees and Californians, about whom I had heard rumors but rarely talked to. 

IES Students at the Salzburg Castle, Sept. 24, 1967

Yep, fifty years ago I was getting on an airplane to start one of the best years of my life. Probably before I departed someone should have told my parents, "Don't send your kid to Study Abroad unless you are prepared to welcome home someone you don't recognize."

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