Manchester University
Oak Leaves

April 27, 2018

Peter Shepherd VIA Tiffany Byers

Senior Peter Shepherd shares stories about his time abroad for a semester and challenges he encountered with the new country, new language and new culture. At his VIA last week, Shepherd explained what he learned from this time in his life and how Manchester's study abroad program gave him the opportunity to enrich his education.

Photo by Tiffany Byers

'From Manchester to Marburg': Peter Shepherd Shares Travel Experiences at VIA

Kaity Collins

Manchester University student Peter Shepherd presented his journey “From Manchester to Marburg” as part of MU’s Senior Series on Thursday, April 19. Hosted by the Values, Ideas, and the Art Committee, Senior Series gives selected seniors the chance to share their thoughts on a topic of choice. “It’s an opportunity to research a topic or area of personal interest and present it,” Shepherd said. 

“They could present, perform a play, or share a senior-appropriate event highlighting the conclusion of their Manchester career,” said Dr. Beate Gilliar, professor of English. “The Senior Series allows students to showcase – in their preferred mode of presenting – how Manchester University has nourished and promoted what it means to enjoy the importance of a liberal education.”

While Shepherd’s Senior Series was about traveling abroad, his presentation wasn’t about how students can go on a journey, but more on the experience students could have by doing so. “It’s a presentation about things I’ve learned not just at Manchester University, but also in Europe,” Shepherd said. “It’s the story of where I was, to where I wanted to be.”

Gilliar said: “Studying and traveling beyond one’s own confines opens lessons that can be learned only by embracing awe while not letting fear overcome you. As someone who believes that language builds bridges, I would absolutely love to see the study of another language as a key element in anyone’s ‘Bildung.’”

Shepherd has traveled to Vienna, Austria, and Marburg, Germany. His Senior Series was primarily based on his experiences in both countries. “From ordering food to riding the bus, as with all things, I had to confront language in a real way,” Shepherd said. “The highlight of my overseas experience was being able to speak the language with my family who are in Germany; being able to joke and have fun with them was really amazing.”                                                                               

Gilliar said: “Immersing yourself fully in another culture is essential to deepen one’s appreciation of the ‘other’ while gaining a more rounded understanding of one’s character. Peter's journey marks not so much a literal, but a figurative quest of his, as he invited audience members to reflect upon ways they thrive onward.”

While his time in Germany was personally enriching, Shepherd expresses his gratitude to those who helped him get the opportunity to enhance the experience. “I wanted to thank family and friends and professors that went along with me; my experience in Germany was in a lot of ways, life changing,” he said.

Shepherd was also an inspiration to those who have or want to experience studying abroad. “Peter re-energized the beginning German program,” Gilliar said “He went to study overseas after taking only two and not four semesters of classes, as would be typical. His German had grown amazingly; his drive and allowing to accept what may be uncomfortable is very impressive as well.”