2018 landscape architecture study abroad

Before our study abroad travels, we worked on learning about construction practices, planning and sketching. We also prepared for our departure.

Image of Wakefield and her class in Blenheim, England.
Class photo at Blenheim, England.

Before our study abroad travels, we worked on learning about construction practices, planning and sketching. We also prepared for our departure. This, of course, included Paul Nieratko taking our phones when we were not looking in class, to teach us about pickpockets.

I was actually pickpocketed in Madrid! Immediately after the thief took my phone I simply turned to the accused thief and asked him, “Did you take my phone?” In an unlikely turn of events, he admitted to stealing my phone and returned it to me.

However, as much as each of our professors (Karen Russcher, Pat Crawford (former faculty member) and Paul Nieratko) prepared us, none of the studying, reading and sketching could prepare us for the awe-inspiring adventure that we were about to embark on.

There were nine students in our class: Alex, Maggie, Chanelle, Yongyi, Shu, Matt, Ben, Jason, and myself. We are all unique in our own way, adding to the overall value of our study abroad experience, and everyday classes. Each of us brought our individual lenses to this trip and helped lend a hand in enhancing the experience for everyone.

I wish I could write a whole book of all the wonderful moments, and idiosyncrasies of my fellow classmates. There are not enough kind words in the English language to encapsulate how special these individuals are to me and the impact each of them has had on my life.

Our study abroad started in Paris, France, with Former Professor Crawford. We walked the Champs-Elysse, toured the Palace of Versailles and the Loire Valley’s beautiful grounds, stepping into the French’s opulent past.

In the Louvre, we saw art from all around the world. As each of us walked our own separate ways through the Louvre, I felt that we were truly in the heart of humanity. Seeing all the works of art ranging from different cultures, times, religious background, etc. it was amazing to see how, since the beginning of time, humanity has created art as a means of expression.

Landscape architecture students at the Arch de Triumph in Paris, France.Taking all of these glimpses into the past in, it was extremely humbling. While in France, Chanelle was able to show her language skills as she spoke fluently with the locals. This helped us on a daily basis as we did anything from journey around France to ordering food.

After being in Paris for a few weeks with Crawford, we went to Rome, Italy, to meet with Russcher. We learned about architectural construction and explored the different city designs with her that have stood the test of time.

Class photo at the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.Seeing places like Alhambra and Royal Alcazar took us into a time where the Moor’s reigned over Spain, while also seeing the remnants of Christian’s current stronghold in Spain. Throughout our time in Spain and Italy, it was interesting to see how different religions influenced building’s form and function.

The final part of our journey ended with Nieratko in the Netherlands and England. While in the Netherlands, we looked at how a country, below sea level, can create landscape and engineering feats to work with natural systems. When we were in the Netherlands, the tulips and daffodils were also in bloom. As we took the train between places, we would look out and see rows of pastel colored tulips. From the train, it looked like an artist had taken a paintbrush to the crop fields.

In London, we focused on transportation-oriented design as Nieratko walked us, much faster than we thought our feet could take us, from landmark to landmark. Through his rich understand of history, we were constantly learning about what history we were walking though in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, London and London’s outer boroughs.

Shu and Amanda on tandem bike.One of my favorite days occurred in Rotterdam when we did a whole day bike tour where Shu and I shared a tandem bicycle. As Shu and I peddled behind the group, I felt happy to be a part of a class that just loves each other so much.

Students at a playground in Delft, Netherlands.I do feel like over our years together in this program we have become a family. More than a degree in landscape architecture, after leaving this program upon graduation, I feel I will leave with relationships I will cherish for the rest of my lifetime. 

Finally, by being able to go on study abroad, we experienced architecture, art, and culture within its historical context. I would also like to thank all the professors for coordinating, organizing then taking us on study abroad. Being in Europe with people who love landscape architecture, and truly appreciated the journey, we were taking as group make it an even more meaningful experience. I would also like to thank the alumni, program of Landscape Architect, School of Planning, Design, and Construction, as well as the generous donors that made all of this possible.


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