“I saw the Queen today!”

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Sometimes we live vicariously through others — like when your roommate decides to spend a semester studying in London, or Austria or Costa Rica. But there’s only so much stalking we can do of their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feeds. As happy as you may be for your friend, there are only so many times you can see her posing just-so in front of The Globe theatre, Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, the Coliseum, the Alps or a real-live Costa Rican volcano. When you get to that point, maybe you should come talk to me. I can help you get some pictures like that of your own.

I am Prof. Jennifer McNiece, and I am Howard Payne University’s Director of Academic Travel and Study Abroad. I wanted a space like this blog to do both of the things I just described above. I want for there to be a place where Howard Payne students can tell the world about the amazing experiences they are having all across God’s creation—and I want their experiences to make you want to do the same!

At Howard Payne University, we are strong believers in the value of experiential learning. Basically, this means: Learning by doing. Sometimes this can happen in a traditional classroom setting, like a science lab, or a music or theatre performance, or a mock-election in a government class. Sometimes lessons need to be lived out to be learned.

Through a variety of programs, HPU students have the world as their classroom. In the London Semester Program, in partnership with Hardin-Simmons University and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, 10 Yellow Jackets spend the spring living and learning in London. There they can take art appreciation by going to museums like the Victoria and Albert or the National Portrait Gallery, theatre by attending shows in the West End, and history and culture by visiting sites like Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Scottish Highlands, and the pastoral Lake District.

“I absolutely loved my semester studying in London and traveling around the British Isles. Traveling internationally is an experience all students should take advantage of if possible. I will always remember the incredible experiences I had there with all the friends I met. I built a fort in the hills of Scotland, hid in a castle in Wales, wandered the lake district of England, and saw the beauty of Ireland. I would go tomorrow if I could, and you should too.” – Tim Hardy, political science and international studies major from Corpus Christi, TX tim hardy london


If you like the mountains more than the big city of London, maybe you’d be interested in studying for a semester in Salzburg, Austria. Through a partnership with Salzburg College, Howard Payne students can take classes ranging from international politics to voice lessons and music performance (including, if you’re up for the challenge, “Alpine Sports”).

“Studying abroad at Salzburg College is the best decision that I have ever made. Not only was I able to live in a European city and completely immerse myself in Austrian culture, I was able to spend much of the semester traveling around central and southern Europe. My experience abroad has shaped my worldviews and has inspired me to want to take on a career in international relations.” – Kerrie Ford, political science major with a specialization in international studies from Houston, TX kerrie ford salzburg


Or maybe you’d rather brush up your Spanish than your German. If so, consider a program in Latin America offered by BestSemester. Thanks to Howard Payne’s membership in the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), we are able to offer you experiential learning opportunities living with families in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, or studying the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia or social work in Uganda. And the recent partnership of the Consortium for Global Education (CGE) with CAPA International provides even more opportunities around the world for Yellow Jackets to learn-by-doing.

“Living with host families in Central America allowed me to experience full cultural and linguistic immersion, which provided me with opportunities to converse with Latinos about their political views, their thoughts on international economics, and global affairs, thus enabling me to gain an understanding of issues that cannot be absorbed in a university classroom. It was a life-changing and paradigm-shaping experience.” – Landon Hankins, 2013 graduate from Decatur, TX, who majored in political science and Spanish

landon hankins best semester


From China to India to Italy; from London to Tokyo to Istanbul; and just about anywhere in between, the world can be your classroom through Howard Payne University’s study abroad opportunities.

Of course, not everyone wants or needs the same things. This is why our study abroad and academic travel programs can be general in nature, or intensive and specific to your individual major. Learning-by-doing doesn’t always have to be a semester-long thing; sometimes it happens in just a few days or weeks, like when a Spanish class travels to Spain or Latin America or future educators spend a week in London classrooms trading tips with British teachers. And few experiential learning opportunities are as personally moving as a trip to the Holy Land with Christian Studies faculty.

Spanish Spanish language students hiked through the Arenal National Park in Costa Rica to learn about the devastation of the volcanic eruption and the current state of recuperation of the affected area.


Israel Trip HPU students and faculty are pictured in the Dead Sea on a tour titled “Walking Where Jesus Walked: A Study Tour of Israel.” The trip toured key biblical sites, participated in simulations of first-century life, and held nightly lectures and discussions.


So: whether it’s for a whole semester or a couple weeks; regardless of your major; HPU wants you to experience learning. We’ll use this space to highlight a variety of experience from the student’s perspective. Check back here to share in travel and learning experiences with Yellow Jackets all over the world

For more information about these programs and the many more like them that I just don’t have space to list here, please contact me at the phone number, email address or office location listed below. In the meantime, be sure to also check out the rest of the information on our main academic travel and study abroad site: www.hputx.edu/academictravel.

Be sure to bookmark this blog and check back in regularly for program updates, messages from Yellow Jackets sharing their experiences, and exciting new opportunities!

–Prof. Jennifer McNiece
(325) 649-8179
Academy 201