Sophomore Heidelberg participant Phillip Young, far left, joins his friends for their first day of fencing class Sept. 20. Young said Heidelberg is filled with adventure, such as hiking up “Philosopher’s Way,” which he climbed in early January. Photo courtesy of Phillip Young
Fantasizing fighting a swashbuckling pirate in Germany, riding alongside a princess in London or sailing into the Argentine sun — Pepperdine’s International Programs provide heart-racing memories. Abroad PE courses offer students opportunities for health and wellness with such eccentric classes.
IP offers a range of physical education classes and tailors them specifically to the individual program, junior Abigail Munzar said. These classes range from tango dancing in Buenos Aires to fencing in Heidelberg.
“It is best to go into it with an open mind, don’t try and have expectations, just go in trying to have fun,” Munzar said. “It’s a really great way to immerse yourself in the culture and talk to your teachers — what a good way to see into their lives.”
Hunt said program participants usually have consistent horses and trainers each week, learning skills such as trotting, steering and more. They practice in an arena or through park trails such as the famous riding road “Rotten Row.”
“It is a once in a lifetime chance that I would probably not get to do if I was here in London on vacation,” Hunt said. “It’s important to stay active and be healthy because when you’re doing a lot of traveling or getting caught up in schoolwork, things get hectic and stressful, so it’s good to get out, get some fresh air.”
Hunt recalled a day when a loud helicopter noise startled the horses and they took off running. She became separated from her trainer and fell off. Hunt said she learned to be less intimated and recommends only taking the course if you love animals and have the patience to be safe.
“Once you overcome your fear and you feel more grounded, then it’s not as bad when you fall off the horse and get right back up,” Hunt said.
Sophomore Katherine Delong said she chose the Lausanne program to practice her French and because of its central location to travel.
While the only PE class offered in Lausanne is individual exercise, Delong said she often works out in the house gym and participates in many outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing in the Alps, snowboarding and walking around the city.
“Lausanne is definitely the best place to be for those looking for adventure and exercise,” Delong said. “Here we are surrounded by mountains and there are amazing opportunities to hike, ski and snowboard during the winter and parasail, bungee jump, horseback ride and more. The Lausanne program is also located right on Lake Geneva, which allows you to sail, swim and go to the beach.”
Caving, Delong said, has been her most memorable experience while abroad. Ten students went on a two-day hiking experience in Holloch Cave that involved rock climbing and army-crawling through extremely small places.
Many students take trains to ski at Zermatt or Crans-Montana over weekends to ski. Delong said she also skied her first weekend in Switzerland and found it funny when 3-year-olds raced past her. She concluded that the Swiss must teach their children to ski young.
The Buenos Aires program offers beginning tango dancing, sailing, equestrian classes and yoga. Munzar said she has three PE classes — equestrian, tango and sailing.
Munzar said each class takes place once a week. The end goal in the tango class involves skill in the dance and attending an end-of-the-class ball, called a milonga.
“Tango can get awkward sometimes because you’re staring into another person’s soul while you’re dancing with them, and it’s kind of fun alleviating the awkwardness while chatting with them,” Munzar said.
Instructors teach most classes in English but some Argentine locals teach in Spanish, such as Munzar’s sailing class, she said.
“I’ve wanted to sail all my life and so it’s like a dream come true to do that,” Munzar said. “I’ve always wanted to sail wherever I want, so I’m really happy about that.”
Italy is and has been the dream for many Florence students, and this rings true for sophomore Isabella Glynn. Glynn said the group values exercise and a healthy lifestyle making it easy for her to stay engaged — such as a group gym session in Naples and nightly walks to gelato.
“I think by completely engaging in all opportunities provided to me, I have the best chance to truly understand the culture I am living in,” Glynn said. “Being active within it is a crucial part to achieving this.”
Glynn said the program participated in activities such as playing soccer, ice skating, ATVing and more. Most memorable for Glynn is the hike she took while on her Educational Field Trip in Ireland.
“The woods were so colorful and filled with so much life, and the water coming out from the mountain looked like it was from a movie even in the rain,” Glynn said.
Heidelberg offers activities such as weight training, yoga and fencing, sophomore Phillip Young said. Young, an academic year student, said he participated in fencing both semesters and it has been one of the best experiences of his life — his favorite part is dueling his classmates.
The class takes place every Monday and a small group of five or six takes a taxi to the local gym, Young said.
“It’s amazing to think that five months ago, I could barely keep my balance in ‘fencing position,’ whereas now I’m engaging in real, structured matches on a weekly basis,” Young said. “I would definitely be interested in continuing fencing back in the United States. It’s a surprisingly good workout, yet it’s incredibly fun and takes a lot of skill.”
Young said they stay very active in the program with challenges such as the five-mile hike known as “Philosophers Way.”
“If you like adventure and don’t mind a good walk, Heidelberg is definitely the place for you,” Young said. “Germany is filled with forests and mountains to explore with friends, and if you run out of things to see in the country, there are nine other beautiful countries that border Germany waiting to be explored as well.”
Remaining involved in local activities has made students feel more connected to their city, and feel less like visitors. With all these different classes offered, Young said one is bound to feel more interconnected to their overall experience — finding within themselves why they went abroad, and what they hope to leave with.
“Studying abroad is an adventure within itself,” Young said.
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