Blogging experiences from abroad

Ever wonder what students experience during a study abroad trip? This summer, four graduate students who are participating in the 2007 Maymester in Croatia program are sharing their experiences in an online blog. The health promotion and behavior students — Laura Bland, Allison Grimes, Shona Lovie, and Molly McWilliams — are led by Carol Cotton in the College of Public Health. They are keeping a daily journal to record thoughts and experiences related to public health issues in Eastern Europe and the ways in which these issues are addressed by the healthcare system. Small group discussions facilitated by faculty members help the students process and reflect on the events of the day.

The blog gives its readers a first-hand account of the students’ learning experiences and provides the students an opportunity to report global health information to their colleagues at the university and around the world. The site discusses such topics as urban issues, smoking, alcohol use, diet, exercise, tourism and environmental health issues.

This summer’s Croatia Study Abroad Program — a program established by UGA’s International Center for Democratic Governance, which is part of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government — includes thirty undergraduate and graduate students and five faculty members from UGA. The students come from a variety of backgrounds and represent the College of Public Health, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, School of Environment and Design and the School of Public and International Affairs. The program is designed to provide practical and interactive learning experiences, which include opportunities to network with government officials, health professionals, instructors and researchers from Croatian universities. Overall, the program offers its participants the opportunity to experience Croatian culture firsthand while examining its history, its governmental and policy infrastructure and its public health issues and institutions.

Croatia, in the former Yugoslavia, is located in Southern Europe and is bordered by Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. The Croatian government consists of a prime minister in the executive branch, a Croatian parliament in the legislative branch and a three-tiered judicial system.

The capital city of Zagreb served as the base for the first week of the May term trip. Activities in Zagreb included visits to the Museum of Zagreb, the Stampar Institute of Public Health and the University of Zagreb, where the UGA Franklin Residential College is housed. From Zagreb, the students made excursions to Zumberak Nature Park, the Zagorje Region, Lonjsko Polje Nature Park and Vukovar. Then, the group departed for Makarska, the center for the second half of the trip. They visited a public health clinic, the Makarska Town Halland Youth Club and conducted a walking tour of the villages on the slopes of Biokovo. From Makarska, they also took bus excursions to Split (on the Adriatic coast), Mostar, the Dalmatian coast, Trogir and Dubrovnik. The journey ends with a departure from Zageb on June 5.