Europe on the Edge

Traveling to six countries with four professors over the course of three weeks, students on Westminster’s Europe on the Edge May Term trip trekked across important historical and cultural borders in an exploration of the world’s boundaries.

Students saw sites with historical and cultural significance firsthand, visiting the Berlin Wall; various spots along the Iron Curtain; the Sachsenhausen concentration camp; borders between different linguistic, ethnic, and religious groups; and the Eastern Front of World Wars I and II, according to the course description. Students also took advantage of the European art scene with visits to museums. 

In between class activities, students explored the streets of the cities, learned about different cultures first-hand and bonded with their trip leaders and classmates.

“The trip honestly helped me grow as a student, a friend and a person so much,” said Amy Dockstader, junior psychology major. “It was really cool to learn about the places we traveled and visited from different perspectives.” 

Under the leadership of neuroscience professor Russ Costa, administrative assistant in the school of arts and sciences Amy Fairchild, history professor Jeff Nichols and justice studies professor Giancarlo Panagia, the students journeyed southward from Germany to Italy, visiting the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland and Slovenia in between. 

“I’m a psychology major, so it was really cool to learn so much through these different lenses,” Dockstader said. “I was not expecting to get so much out of the three weeks we were gone as I did, but now having been on the trip, I know without a doubt that it is something I will remember for the rest of my life.” 

For junior Alex Frol, what she’ll remember most about the trip is visiting the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and euthanasia center in Dresden, Germany. 

“It was just a reminder of how far we’ve come as a society,” Frol said. “To realize that this has happened to a group of people and that we should learn from it and be constantly reminded that we never want to go back there. It was really important that everyone saw it—even though it had different meanings to different people, it really stood out to me.”