Photographs by Katherine Wortmann

International travel is a gift that keeps on giving.  Once back, travelers look at their collection of photos and remember the magic of seeing postcard landmarks and landscapes for the first time.  Here are a few of Katherine’s favorite photographs from our trip in March.  Great work Katherine!

DSC06162 DSC06231 DSC06332 DSC06376 DSC06488 DSC06699 DSC06970 DSC07374

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Posted by on June 7, 2012 in Photographs


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Reflections on the Trip: Eliza Payne


What did the trip mean to you? — This trip meant an opportunity to experience a new culture and see some world renowned artifacts and buildings.  It was a chance that not enough people have the opportunity to take!

What were the most memorable moments of the trip?–Definitely exploring the beaches of Saint Malo and the free time we had in that town.  I also LOVED the American Cemetery and the beaches of Normandy.  We didn’t have enough time there!

What differences between France and America struck you most?  Any similarities stand out?–The way that the people in the 2 countries travel was the most obvious difference.  Whereas we mainly drive cars, they use metros, trains, and walking to reach their destinations.  When they do drive cars they are crazy!! Also the food and they way that they eat.  In America we can be in and out of a restaurant within the hour, but in France you could be there for 2 hrs and still not ready to leave!  The fashion of course was different as well.   

What do you hope to research further now that you’ve visited France?—I would like to research more about the Chartes Cathedral and the smaller towns that we visited while we were there. 

What city or site in France was your favorite to visit?  Why?–The American Cemetery in Normandy was my favorite, but I also really enjoyed Versailles.  Being in Normandy gave you a small taste of what life was like for the brave soldiers who fought there and the sacrifices that they made.  Very humbling.  Versailles, naturally, because the palace is gorgeous! I have always been fascinated with the story of Marie Antoinette and this just brought history to life. 

What, in your mind, is the benefit of traveling abroad?–There are so many benefits!! You get to experience a new culture, new food, and a new mindset while seeing beautiful and historical sights.  Not enough people have the opportunity to travel abroad and open their mind to other ways of living.  By traveling you get the chance to see how other cultures live and work and contribute to making the world a better place.

What did traveling abroad make you appreciate about home?–My routine! And also I missed walking out of my door and subconsciously knowing how the people around me were going to dress, behave, and talk.  It’s hard to adjust to a new culture.


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Posted by on April 17, 2012 in Student Reports


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Reflections on the Trip: Jane Mudd

On the trip, each of us somehow managed to acquire a nickname.  Given that we were walking in the land of Joan of Arc and admiring the artwork of so many amazing painters, the nickname for art professor Jane Mudd was easy to come by: Jane of Art.  Here are some questions that Katherine Wortmann recently asked Jane of Art.  Editor’s note: I love Jane’s description of travel when she writes: “our bus tour was a time machine. And I must say I was humbled at every turn.”


1.) What was your favorite part of the trip this year?

My favorite part  was the element of surprise everywhere we went! But if I had to mention one thing it would be the complexity and radiance of the stained glass windows at the Chartres cathedral.  

2.) What was the most culturally shocking thing you experienced?

The most culturally shocking part? Maybe it was imagining myself in the middle ages walking the 20’ wide ramparts at St. Malo…  or …was it wondering in the granite stone corridors at Mont St. Michal back in the 10th century? Or gosh maybe it was sitting awestruck in the nave of the Chartres Cathedral back in 1180!  Then again it was pretty shocking imagining the terror of the German occupation  in that beautiful Normandy countryside, then suddenly standing on the same beaches that only 68 years ago witnessed such incredible bravery and self-sacrifice.  And then oh my gosh!  I can’t stop thinking about walking the same streets and viewing the same scenes that Van Gogh so passionately and vibrantly painted back in 1890! Oh did I mention the 17th Century palace of Versailles! And the 5000 plus years represented at the  Louvre! Our bus tour was  a time machine. And I must say I was humbled at every turn.

3.) Anything else you’d like to add? I miss waking up to French coffee and croissants with the enthusiastic fun-loving group of WWU students, and our fearless leader Travis! and of course my husband Tom who was so grateful to be a part of it all. I think one of his favorite parts was the endless vertical log, 3-story, 17th-18th century houses that lined the narrow cobbled streets in Rouen.



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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Reflections on the Trip: Sydnee Kuster


The trip for me… well… there really are no words. Traveling is my favorite thing to do. Plus, this time I got to go in honor of my dear friend, Rudy. He is the sweetest old man you’ll ever meet! I believe he is 87 years old. He fought in WWII. I bought him a bear and took lots of pictures with it and made a scrapbook to give him along with the bear.

My most memorable part of the trip? Definitely getting to help fold the flag during the Taps ceremony at the American cemetery. But second would be getting to go up the Eiffel Tower… TWICE! And trying to hide my tears when I didn’t think it was going to happen. Kat and I went to the second level on our last night and then to the top on the last day before leaving for the airport. Oh! And that stupid caricaturist! He wanted 20€ for a terrible picture! His Eiffel Tower was a triangle with squiggles. You can also look at Kat’s blog to see a picture of it. Kat and I also ran in the Atlantic Ocean at night. It was the first time I had TOUCHED the Atlantic Ocean. Super exciting! And I ate escargot. That was my bucket list item.

This wasn’t my first trip abroad so there wasn’t anything I was tremendously surprised by or not expecting. But the French are so nice! And not dirty like I’ve heard so many times. I really enjoyed myself! But one interesting thing there was they had an entire section of academics that worked solely on rewriting any English words and making their own word for it. An example given was they say “end of the week” not “weekend.”

I’m a pretty friendly and easy-going person so three’s not much I can’t handle. That’s probably why one of my nicknames became “The First” because whatever the “uncomfortable” (that’s the best word I can think of) task was, the girls always sent me first. And I just charged ahead! 🙂 The caricaturist was a handful to say the least. Haha. There was also one store where the owner did not speak English so we had to learn to communicate. That happened to me a few times. But my studies in “Visual Communication and Gesturing” with Melanie in the ASL department helped me a lot. I wouldn’t say this was an unfamiliar situation or anything, or even that I was nervous about it, but I was the only Chi Omega in a group of 5 Alpha Chi Omegas. Which is where the nickname “Stand Proud Syd” came from. But I am so proud of those ladies because I never felt that I wasn’t part of the group. Not once did I feel left out. And if they wanted to take an Alpha Chi picture or something, immediately after they were saying, “OK, Syd! Now you take a Chi O one!” Kat and I even made our own hand signal for our chapters. I did meet a sister from Wisconsin! She was a Chi O in Madison. Her name is Mary. She is such a sweetheart!


I am really looking forward to going home and talking to Rudy and sharing with him about my trip but also learning more of his story.

I don’t know if any place was my “favorite.” I loved all the cathedrals especially because of my Catholic faith. That’s also why Rouen was special. I’ve read a lot about Joan of Arc and even played the part of her in a small skit for a retreat I was on. To see where she was from and places she’s visited and are major places in her story… that was pretty cool.

For me the biggest benefit of traveling abroad is the people you meet and the connections you make. I know I got teased about all the people I know and making friends with everyone but it’s who I am. This can be especially beneficial later in life when job hunting and things of the sort.

As stupid as it sounds… the thing I probably miss most about home when traveling abroad is (free) public restrooms and free drink refills. But I can do without those in order to have these experiences.

Probably my favorite picture isn’t even on my camera. It’s the one where we are all jumping in front of the Eiffel Tower. Or the one where we are covering up the statue’s “indecent exposure.” Haha. Two pictures I took that I like are of my modeling on the Eiffel Tower and one I could never get to turn out great of Jane (of Art)  and Tom (Precious!) With their arms linked. They are just too adorable! There are too many great stories to pick just one. The caricaturist? Me almost crying when I didn’t think I was going to make it up the Eiffel Tower? Leading the Fort Expedition at night? Or Alicia stepping up to try escargot? It could be any of these or one of a million others. 🙂 The one that gets the most laughs though is that I’ve never seen the Statue of Liberty in New York… but I did see the replica in France! It’s just funny that I’ve seen the one in Paris before the one in New York.


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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Trip Reports


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Reflections on the Trip: Olivia Koselansky


What did the trip mean to you?

To me, this trip meant the experience of a lifetime. I love to travel all over, but have never been to Europe. This trip opened my eyes and allowed me to experience a culture that I have never had the chance to experience. This trip also gave me the chance to bond with my sisters in a way that most sorority women do not get to do. Lastly, this trip also opened my eyes to the past and what happened in France during WWII. It helped me to realize and understand what actually happened during that war and it brought a ton of emotions to mind ( way better than a history class :p).

What were the most memorable moments of the trip?

I think the most memorable part of the trip was bonding with our group because we were so small. But also, the American Cemetery, Point du Hoc, and the restaurant that we went to in Caen when none of our American credit cards would work (probably the one experience I will definitely never forget)

What differences between France and America struck you most? Any similarities stand out?

The biggest difference between America and France that I saw were the fashion differences. The people of France would never be caught outside of their homes with sweatpants or a T-shirt on, even if they were climbing a hill or walking around Paris. The French people were ALWAYS dressed very elegantly and with style. Along with that, the men in France are very different from the men in America. The first day we were in France getting a little introduction from our tour guide Alexandra, we were told to not even look at the French men. This is because men in France take the sign of eye contact as something different than what the men in America would take it as. It was explained to us that with French men and women (unless they grew up in school together and became friends) there was really no such thing as a new friendship between older French men and women, which is very different than here in America.

What do you hope to research further now that you’ve visited France?

I am researching how to do business in France. It fascinates me on how different a culture can be from your own, and understanding further may help me one day in my future business adventures. For my final project, I will be writing a paper on How to do Business in France.

What city or site in France was your favorite to visit? Why?

My favorite cite in France to see was Point du Hoc. I was amazed by the craters that were made by the bombs America had aimed at the cliff to kill the Germans who were guarding weapons at the top. I can not even begin to explain how emotional and cool this place was. I could stand in a crater, I could go into a shelter that had once housed German soldiers during WWII, and I could look over the edge of the cliff to see the beautiful water and see the side of the cliff where the American soldiers had to fight to climb up.


What is the benefit of traveling abroad?

One answer: It makes a person more well-rounded. When you only have the chance to experience what it is like to live in the United States, you really don’t even have the slightest idea of what it is like living in another country. What many people don’t realize is how spoiled we truly are by growing up in such a great country, and all the benefits we have as American citizens. Traveling abroad allows you to see how other people live and it shows you that what you have should never be taken for granted because there are people in the world that have it way worse than you do.

What did traveling abroad make you appreciate about home?

Honestly, traveling abroad to Europe made me appreciate everything back home – the space, the food, the clothing, the language, the people.

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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Student Reports


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Reflections on the Trip: Katherine Wortmann


Marie Antoinette slept here!

What did the trip mean to you?
I have been very blessed to have been able to travel with Woods Around the World for three years now, and each trip has meant something different to me. This year, France taught me a lot about appreciating where I come from. The city of Paris is such a hustle-and-bustle atmosphere (which was exciting to experience, don’t get me wrong), but I really noticed how much I appreciate being from a small, Midwestern community. It’s so much fun to get out in the world and see new things, but I’d never trade anything for being a Missouri girl.

What were the most memorable moments of the trip?

This trip was full of laughs and memorable experiences, but my favorite one happened in the little town of Saint Malo. This city is right next to the Atlantic ocean, something several of us on the trip had never seen. During some of our free time in the evening, we decided to venture out to see the water. The tide was EXTREMELY low, so we walked as far out as we could until we could touch the water. Fellow traveler Sydnee and I braved the freezing cold water and ran screaming into the waves. It was so much fun! After that, Liza, Alicia, Sydnee and I gathered up our courage and hiked up to an old castle to look inside the gates. Can you say creepy?? The next day, during our walking tour of the city, we saw that same beach and that same castle; the tide was so high, no one could get to it! It was crazy to see the comparison from night to day. While I had a fabulous time wherever we went in France, our time in Saint Malo is something I’ll never forget.

What differences between France and America struck you most?  Any similarities stand out?
Like I said before, the atmosphere between France and America is something I noticed right off the bat. Everyone is Paris is always in a hurry to get somewhere, and I felt like I was always in their way. But other thing that really struck me was how everyone dressed. As a college student, I am accustomed to seeing everyone in sweats every single day of the week, but NOT ONCE did I see a Parisian wearing anything but dark jeans, boots, a dark top and a scarf. Not. Once. If the French couldn’t already tell we were Americans by our accents and cameras hanging around our necks, they could take one look at our outfits and have it all figured out.

Do you have a story that illustrates how you had to adapt to an unfamiliar situation? 

Something you learn as a traveler is how to say no. My first time traveling abroad, WATW visited Germany. On our first day in Berlin, these poor-looking women and children surrounded our group, handing us cards with English written on them and holding their palms out for money. I didn’t know what else to do, so I gave them the only change I had. And that happened not once, not twice, but THREE times. You know what I learned later? I was scammed. Big time. So, from then on I learned to not make eye contact with people trying to sell you things because you will end up with less money than you started with. Well, my experience in France was no different. Sydnee and I were rushing to get to the Eiffel Tower because we were supposed to meet the rest of the group there (but ended up getting a little turned around in the Metro system). Well, we finally got to where we were supposed to be and were crossing the street when this man grabs Sydnee by the arm and points to her nose ring. “Oh you funny American, I draw picture of you, you model for me.” “How much?” were the first words out of my mouth. “Oh, don’t worry, I give you good price.” Everything in my gut told me to walk away right then and there, but we were somehow still conned into sitting and smiling for this man while he drew a horrible caricature of us and then proceeded to ask 20 euros for it. I honestly did not have 20 euros on me, but even if I did, I sure as heck was not going to give him anything over the change in my pocket for what he drew! Needless to say, he got a few coins from me and 10 euro from Sydnee, and that was way more than he deserved. Lesson of the day: just say no and walk away! It’s hilarious to think about it now, but at the time, that man got no smiles from me.


What city or site in France was your favorite to visit?  Why?
When you go to France, specifically Paris, you HAVE TO go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. It’s like an unwritten rule or something! And I went up in the tower not once, but TWICE! Sydnee and I attempted to go to the top at night, but the top level was closed, so we only made it to the second floor. But the view was INCREDIBLE! The next morning we got up early for round two of the tower. I’m glad we decided to go twice because it was really cool to be able to compare the night view with the day view. I could have brought a lawn chair up with me and just sat there all day and reveled in the beauty of Paris.

What, in your mind, is the benefit of traveling abroad?
I could go on and on about the benefits of traveling abroad, but I’ll just list my top three reasons. First of all, traveling abroad opens your eyes to so many different cultures and ways of life. I think so many times we (and I’m guilty of it too) get caught up in our own little world and forget that there’s a whole big world out there just waiting to be explored. The second great thing about traveling is an appreciation of where you come from. The people you love, the food eat, the clothes you wear, your transportation style and day-to-day activities become so much more valuable once you leave for a while and get away from that familiarity. Lastly, traveling connects you so much with others. Three years after meeting Travis and joining WATW, I have made some amazing friends and met some pretty inspirational people. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to be in their presence and learn from them. Plus, the inside jokes are so much fun to bring up years later. 🙂

Eiffel Jumping

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Posted by on April 2, 2012 in Student Reports


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Katherine Around the World

Katherine Wortmann, a junior from Mexico, Missouri has made the most of her college experience, traveling the map on various university trips since her freshman year at William Woods.  She blogs about her trips abroad on a sister website.  Suffice it to say, once she packed her bags on her first trip with Woods Around the World, she left her suitcase open to more far-flung adventures. Next year, she’ll travel with us to Scotland, England and Ireland. 


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Posted by on March 31, 2012 in Student Reports


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