Students visited London, Istanbul and the Galapagos Islands
Aimee LaBrie

“Being in the Galápagos with Rider was an amazing experience," says Milvian Prieto ’15, posing with a sea lion.

For some students, winter break required a passport and extra packing as they prepared to travel abroad on one of Rider University’s international programs offered over the break. This January, students had the opportunity to visit London and Istanbul or the Galapagos Islands. Each trip allowed them to earn college credits and to experience another culture alongside Rider faculty. 

The long running Arts Aboard trip, led by Dr. Jerry Rife and Dr. Patrick Chmel from the College of Liberal Arts, went to London and Istanbul from Jan. 8 to Jan. 20, and students earned three credits toward a music or theater class while also taking in performances, guided tours and special excursions.  

Taffy Le ’15 returned from her trip to Istanbul with a renewed interest in traveling a little more off the beaten path. “Before the trip, I was skeptical about going to Turkey, since it is not a ‘typical’ travel destination,” she says. “Dr. Rife and Dr. Chmel put together the itinerary perfectly. It was also a great opportunity to learn about how many different religions were practiced there since the 6th century.”

More than two dozen students spent ten days on the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador alongside faculty from disciplines across the university. Dr. Jonathan Husch, Chair of the Department of Geological, Environmental, and Marine Sciences (GEMS) in CLAES and fellow departmental faculty member Dr. William Gallagher were available for mentoring and teaching purposes, as were Dr. Cindy Newman from the Department of Marketing, Advertising, and Legal in Studies in the College of Business Administration, and Dr. Janes from the Department of Communications and Journalism in CLAES. 

The trip itself was the culmination of two connected courses, Nature's Business, taught by Dr. Newman and Dr. Husch, and Documenting Other Cultures, taught by Dr. Janes.  Dr. Gallagher joined the trip as the resident faculty expert on evolution and Darwin; a key component to this particular journey as the Galapagos Islands provided the spark upon which Darwin later fomented his theory of how species, including humans, evolved.

“The multidisciplinary background of the faculty involved is one of the major points of the courses and the trip. It makes the entire experience even more unique for all involved,” explains Dr. Husch.

Milvian Prieto ’15, who posted a video on YouTube about the trip, saw visiting the Galapagos as an experience that deepened her understanding of what had been discussed previously in the classroom. “Being in the Galápagos with Rider was like having this real time extension of what we were discussing in our class," she says. "The faculty who went with us provided insights about the culture and history. At the same time, we were learning from tour guides who have lived on the Islands for most of their lives.”

Kim Cameron, assistant director for the Center for International Education, encourages all students to take advantage of this opportunity. “Whether you go on one of the longer journeys or a shorter trip, this is a great way to earn college credit while at the same time experiencing life in another country,” she says. 

Over spring break, a group will venture to China for a language class with Dr. Wang and others are taking part in a service trip in the Dominican Republic with Children’s House, working with Haitian refugees and teaching English to school age children. Students interested in studying special education are invited to travel to Austria with Dr. Diane Giannoila and Dr. Michelle Kamens. In addition, Greeks Go Aboard will participate in a service trip where students travel to Costa Rica to study sea turtles.  

Deadlines for these trips and others vary. For more information, visit or call Rider’s Center for International Education at 609-896-7717.