Study abroad creates scenes of discovery

College students share cultural adventures through photo, video, and essay contests

  • Suspended in Time

    Freddy Tsao, who studied abroad in Paris, won best portfolio, including this picture from Cinque Terre, Italy.

  • A Late Night in Arusha, Tanzania

    A traffic jam in Arusha, one of Tanzania’s most developed cities. The scene shows the intersection of rural and urban, created by the city’s proximity to several large national tourist parks, such as the Serengeti. This photo took first place in UChicago’s study abroad photo contest.

  • Hilltop industrial complex, Ottakring, Vienna, Austria

    (Second-place photo contest winner)

  • Teatime, Ozdere, Turkey

    (Third-place photo contest winner)

  • Girls playing in an air vent in Milan for Carnival

    (From Barcelona, Spain)

  • Girl and her Goat

    Sydney Combs took these photographs while conducting anthropological research with the pastoral Maasai tribe of Tanzania. Maasai children often start herding and milking their father’s livestock at a young age, Combs says.

  • Herding

  • Time for a Paddle

  • A guard at the Golden Temple, Amritsa

  • Breaking the Ice

  • Boatman on the Backwaters, Cochin, Kerala

  • Busy Subway Station on a Smoggy Day

  • Class in the Amphitheatre, Ephesus, Turkey

  • Handwashing

    At Meiji Shrine in Tokyo

  • Stories

    From Oslo, Norway

  • El Mercado

  • Outside Park Guell

    From Barcelona, Spain


By Dianna Douglas
Homepage photo by third-year Freddy Tsao

I had so many wild adventures and met so many kind people that I can’t wait to go back.”
—Sydney Combs
Fourth-year in College

Every year the Study Abroad office collects hundreds of photos, videos, and essays from students in the College, looking for scenes that capture the awe, delight, romance, discovery, and challenges of living abroad. This is a small selection of this year’s winning entries.

Currently 40 percent of students in the College study abroad. They travel to UChicago centers in Paris and Beijing, to partner universities in far-flung places like Chile and South Korea, to Civilization programs with faculty around the world, and to undertake intensive foreign-language study programs or original research projects. For many, it is a transformative experience.

“The students who study language, history, and culture in foreign lands are embracing a kind of intellectually rigorous globalism that will surely be a hallmark of the new liberal education of our century,” says John W. Boyer, dean of the College.

Sydney Combs, a fourth-year anthropology student, traveled to Tanzania in 2013 for field research with the Maasai tribe, and brought back photos and videos that show the clash of the rural and urban, and developed and underdeveloped areas where she worked. Combs won first place in this year’s photo and video contests.

“Studying abroad in Tanzania gave me the chance to finally put my language and cultural studies to good use, and solidified my love for fieldwork and anthropology,” she says.

Like many students who study abroad, Combs plans to continue working and researching outside the borders of United States. “I had so many wild adventures and met so many kind people that I can’t wait to go back.” 

Originally published on July 7, 2014.