Real World Learning: Dowling travels to United Kingdom for Fulbright summer institute

Patrick Dowling (middle) and fellow students explore the United Kingdom.

Patrick Dowling (middle) and fellow students explore the United Kingdom.

This article was featured in the Roanoke Magazine, Issue 2, 2013. The full issue can be seen here.

This story is one in an occasional series highlighting Roanoke College students' real world learning experiences.

Studying abroad is one of the best ways to get a taste of the real world - one that is worlds away from the United States.

Patrick Dowling, a Roanoke native and a sophomore at Roanoke College, spent the beginning of this past summer halfway around the world studying the impact of the Triangular Trade, a trade route that beginning in the 15th century delivered goods across three continents, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean or American colonies.

Dowling was part of the Fulbright Summer Institute, which is a summer program that provides U.S. undergraduate college students with an academic and cultural immersion abroad for three to six-week periods.

During the month of June, Dowling studied with nine other American students at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. The summer institute focused on the Triangular Trade, with teaching by scholars from Africa, North America and the United Kingdom.

The students researched various topics related to this trade route and presented their findings at the end of the program. Dowling's research focused on the Triangular slave trade, in which ships transported slaves to America from Africa to work on plantations, where cotton, sugar, tobacco and other goods were produced.

Lectures often ventured beyond the typical classroom setting. Students took class trips to explore the city of Bristol and its history.

On the checklist of tours, students visited a merchant venture plantation where they could overlook the harbor that the merchant slave ships docked en route to America. 

By the end of his trip, Dowling said he "knew the city of Bristol better than the actual Bristol students probably did."

Although the educational tours were interesting, Dowling and his fellow students enjoyed exploring Bristol and other cities, including Bathe and London.

"The roast done in the pubs every Sunday was great," Dowling said. "But the chips were awful. I needed American French fries."

He now is back at Roanoke, but he has high hopes of traveling abroad again.

Dowling, who has not yet decided on his academic major, hopes to discover his academic passion by experiencing the world like he did this summer and pursuing a career that allows him to do just that.

 "Studying abroad was the best experience of my entire life," Dowling said.

-Published Oct. 15, 2013

Released: October 15, 2013