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Students Examine Cross-Cultural Psychology in Europe

07.1.2014
Students Abigail Hansen, Melanie Thompson, Alexandra Cree and Elizabeth O’Brien view Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” painting in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Students Abigail Hansen, Melanie Thompson, Alexandra Cree and Elizabeth O’Brien view Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” painting in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

HIGH POINT, N.C., July 1, 2014 – Nineteen students from High Point University recently completed their cross-cultural psychology course with a 16-day “Maymester” experience through six western European countries.

Led by Dr. Kirsten Li-Barber and Dr. Chris Lootens, assistant professors of psychology at HPU, the course provided students with an opportunity to apply their knowledge of psychological theories and concepts to cultures other than their own. As they traveled through the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Italy students were required to complete various field experiences aimed at understanding cultural variations in aesthetics, language, social interaction patterns and relationships.

“Applying psychological concepts to countries outside the U.S. provides students with important insight into how human behavior and development can vary depending on where someone lives, the cultural norms of that country and the values that the culture holds,” says Li-Barber. “This trip allows students to do just that – engage with a culture different than their own.”

Students pause for a photo during a guided tour of the Coliseum in Rome, Italy.

Students pause for a photo during a guided tour of the Coliseum in Rome, Italy.

In addition to gaining a fresh, global perspective on human behavior, students also enjoyed a visit to the world-famous Keukenhoff Gardens in Amsterdam, cheese and chocolate tours along with a scenic lake cruise in Switzerland and guided visits to the Pantheon, Coliseum, Sistine Chapel and the Trevi Fountain in Rome.

“Psychologists have long recognized the importance of multicultural knowledge and sensitivity,” says Lootens. “This ‘Maymester’ course helps students think critically about the influence of culture and become more multiculturally competent.”

“Traveling through six countries in 16 days was an amazing opportunity that allowed me to create close friendships while embracing all that Europe has to offer,” says HPU student Aimee Chasse. “From the breathtaking landscapes of Switzerland, to the delicious food in Italy and every cultural experience along the way, this trip was one that I will never forget.”

The psychology program was one of 13 Global Experience “Maymester” courses that gave students and faculty the opportunity to be immersed in cultures unlike their own. Other programs traveled to South Africa, Spain, Japan, Argentina, the Netherlands, Ecuador and more.

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