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Alumni and parents travel with St. Olaf on all seven continents

After building a robust International and Off-Campus Studies program for students, St. Olaf College developed a travel program for alumni, parents, and friends of the college that has now been going strong for more than four decades.

Ellen Teigland ’73 P ’08 on the Alumni and Family Travel program “Exploring Chile, Easter Island, and Argentina’s Wine Country” last year. This summer she will travel on her 22nd St. Olaf program.

The program offers 10-12 trips throughout the year that take travelers to various locations around the world. In 2019 St. Olaf will run 11 programs from January through November, in locations ranging from Hawaii to Thailand and points in between.

Over the years, some travelers have joined Alumni and Family Travel (formerly known as Study Travel) as many as 21 times. Different travelers have different reasons for choosing St. Olaf.

Ben Sjoberg ’98, who has traveled with St. Olaf 18 times (not including his study abroad experiences) says, “My first adult travel with St. Olaf was in 2003. It was like going back to college and taking an Interim class with my favorite professor, this time in Southeast Asia. Since then, I’ve traveled with St. Olaf to more than 30 countries and all seven continents, making great friends along the way.”

Ben Sjoberg ’98My first adult travel with St. Olaf was in 2003. It was like going back to college and taking an Interim class with my favorite professor.

Ellen Teigland ’73 P ’08 will travel this summer on her 22nd St. Olaf program.

“The trips organized through St Olaf are tried and true,” she says. “My first trip in 2005 to India totally sold me on the quality of travel plans, hotels, activities, local guides, travel companions, and study travel leaders!”

Director of Alumni and Family Travel Heidi Quiram pays close attention to logistical details, working to ensure that all the pieces are in place for a stellar travel experience. But she agrees with Sjoberg, who notes that it’s often the unexpected that make for the most memorable trips.

Ben Sjoberg ’98 has traveled with St. Olaf 18 times, not including his study abroad experiences.

Sjoberg says, “It’s easy to say the most memorable travel moments are those like seeing the full moon rise over the Taj Mahal, standing still while penguins waddle underneath your legs in Antarctica, or hearing a lion roar while on an African safari. But for me, it’s the zanier moments that I’ll never forget … like spending the night in a half-buried tent camp during a roaring Saharan sandstorm, riding on a camel through the streets of India, outrunning a water cannon during a protest I stumbled into in Lima, fending off the amorous advances of a giant sea lioness while snorkeling, or pleading for my life to a deranged donkey that was galloping with me (and my broken toe!) through the ruins of Petra.”

Quiram says that one of the questions she gets asked frequently is, “Do I need to be an alum to travel with St. Olaf?” Her answer is a resounding “No!”

Director of Alumni and Family Travel Heidi QuiramIf our programs look appealing to you, then you’re a like-minded traveler and you’re going to fit right in with the group.

“If our programs look appealing to you, then you’re a like-minded traveler and you’re going to fit right in with the group,” she says.

Sue Wolf, who has no previous connection with the college, says St. Olaf came highly recommended by her friends, Jeffrey Bores ‘85 and Michael Hawkins, who have now been on 13 St. Olaf programs. Her first St. Olaf program was a Theater in London trip with Professor Emeritus of Theater Pat Quade and his wife, Kathy, a retired assistant director at St. Olaf, alongside Bores and Hawkins.

Jeffrey Bores ’85 (right) and Michael Hawkins on the 2018 Alumni and Family Travel program “From the Dinaric Alps to the Glistening Adriatic: A Journey through Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

“They invited me to go along with them. I learned so much on that trip and made some new friends,” Wolf says. Now she’s been on the Theater in London trip twice (including once when a fellow participant turned out to be the high school English teacher who instilled in her a love of Shakespeare), enjoyed star gazing on Easter Island, and stood in Red Square, something she never thought she’d do in her lifetime.

“St. Olaf has been the stuff of dreams for me,” she says.

One of the things frequent travelers look for is value, and St. Olaf travel programs are consistently rated a good value in post-program surveys. Wolf says that when she’s deciding on a group travel trip, she looks to see “What’s included — transportation, food, drinks, entrance fees, and the like,” asking, “In essence, is it a good value?”

St. Olaf program fees try to strike the balance between being inclusive, while allowing some meals and activities free so that travelers can pursue their own interests or finish out a day on their own budget.

Jeffrey Bores ’85St. Olaf offers a unique opportunity to travel to new places in the world with exceptional faculty and retired faculty. Because of St. Olaf’s commitment to student study-abroad experiences, the college is well-connected and has the resources to create memorable experiences around the world.

Bores adds, “Don’t let group travel deter you from participating. St. Olaf offers a unique opportunity to travel to new places in the world with exceptional faculty and retired faculty. Because of St. Olaf’s commitment to student study-abroad experiences, the college is well-connected and has the resources to create memorable experiences around the world. We have made lifelong friends through traveling with St. Olaf and continue to connect with our fellow travelers, whether on another program or simply for dinner back home.”

See where St. Olaf Alumni and Family Travel can take you.