Bags? Check. Destination? Czech.

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By: Parker Williamson

The Missouri Western Choir will be taking a trip to the Czech Republic and Austria in the spring of 2020.

Dr. Elise Hepworth, the director of choral activities and music education, is leading the trip. For trips like this, she typically spends about two years planning the trip. She said that the trip is not exclusively for choir students, but is focusing mostly on historical locations in choral music history. These locations include the childhood home of Mozart and the burial place of Beethoven. The choir will also be performing in many locations on the trip. The trip will take place May 11-18 in 2020. As of now, there are about 30 people signed up to go.

There will be an opportunity to sign up for two classes before the trip. These courses will focus on what the group will be seeing on the trip as well as how to prepare for travelling internationally.

Hepworth has travelled to many places around the world through her current and past work. She thinks that these experiences can be truly life changing and highly encourages students to take this opportunity and ones like it.  

“International tour changes your perspective on human beings and how people live and work,” Hepworth said. “You can talk about it in class, but it is a whole different experience when you’re living and breathing it.”

Aside from all of the experiences and new world views students can gain from study away trips, there are also many tangible benefits to studying away. Students who study away are 90 percent more likely to be accepted into their first or second choice of graduate school. On average, they end up making about 25 percent more money than others in their first professional jobs.

The study away program is growing. It used to be only three or four trips per year, and this year they have done 11 trips. There have also been more students going on these trips. Tammy Norris is an academic advisor for the Western Institute, and she also works with the study away program. When trips like this are planned, the professor that wants to set up the trip usually goes to her and they start planning it. One of the main concerns for students who want to go on study away trips is the cost. The approximate cost for this specific trip is about $4,000. Norris said that students should look for resources to help, such as the financial aid office, and crowdfunding. She also highly encourages students to take advantage of these opportunities while they can.

“I think it is an incredible opportunity to go,” Norris said. “Particularly when you are in college before you get involved in life in ways that makes it harder to travel.”

Jordan Alford is a senior at MWSU who went on the alternative spring break trip to New Orleans this year. The students who went on this trip got to try all sorts of new food and do some volunteer work. She loved the experience and would recommend it to other students.

“Take any opportunity you have to travel with the school,” Alford said. “A lot of times, it’s hard after you graduate because then you’re maybe starting a family if you haven’t already or having other obligations that make it harder to do.”

If any student is interested in going on the study away trip with the choir, they should contact Dr. Elise Hepworth or Tammy Norris for more info or to sign up.