ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Sometimes, Ben Bredeson just likes to be alone.
When he arrives in Barcelona later this week, Bredeson, an offensive lineman on the Michigan football team, has one plan for his first days in the Spanish city. He plans to take a long, solitary walk through its streets.
“I really just enjoy time by myself, and I just like to walk around,” said Bredeson, who has completed his freshman year at Michigan. “Me and my mom were always into that, just walking around on our own.”
Following a weeklong visit to Rome with the Wolverines for spring practices and cultural immersion, Bredeson — interviewed before departing for Rome — will spend the next three weeks in Spain. Bredeson is one of 20 to 25 of Michigan’s football players who will scatter across international borders this week to continue their coursework as part of Michigan’s May term, which begins Tuesday.
Michigan’s academic programs offer a three-week period in May in which students can study abroad and earn three course credits. Bredeson will spend his time abroad in northeastern Spain studying “Sport and Culture in Barcelona” after taking a course on the topic during Michigan’s spring semester.
“You learn how sports affect different social institutions and structures, and how people react to it,” Bredeson said. “I thought it was really interesting, so when I heard about the opportunity to study it abroad, I couldn’t turn it down.”
Where are you going?
Among those continuing their travels overseas this month: Cornerback Keith Washington will take part in a sports and society program in Buenos Aires, Argentina, while holder Garrett Moores will attend meetings of the European Union during two weeks in Brussels and Leuven, Belgium. He said he won’t be able to use his cellphone during EU meetings.
“I guess you get a notepad and a pencil,” Moores said. “You get to sit in on meetings and kind of just experience how the EU functions.”
Michigan wide receiver Jack Wangler and teammates Henry Poggi and Will Hart will travel to Iceland for a three-week program that focuses on creative writing and fairy tales in the island country.
“People laugh at it, and we even got a kick out of it first,” Wangler said. “We went into the orientation for it, and it’s all about creative writing.
“The premise of it is going around and exploring different parts of Iceland and the culture and writing about it.”
Wangler, however, said he doesn’t consider himself a writer. And he had to do a quick study of Iceland, a country in the northern Atlantic Ocean that he admits he didn’t know much about.
“I actually thought it was really a big glacier because it’s so far north,” Wangler said. “But I actually learned that Vikings named it Iceland so that everyone wouldn’t go to it because it’s so pretty.”
What’s it worth?
The cost of each trip abroad varies. According to Michigan’s website, the three-week course in Barcelona costs $3,175, plus a $300 administrative fee. A Spanish immersion course in Buenos Aires comes with a $2,050 program fee, plus a tuition charge.
“I didn’t really hear about this until the Rome trip, and then they were brought in together,” Bredeson said. “We were told, ‘We’re going to Rome, and then you’re [able to do] these study-abroad opportunities.’ So when I heard about it, I wanted to go [to Barcelona].”
The extended stay in Barcelona offers Bredeson something else — free time to walk and take it all in.
“There’s a class for about two or three hours a day,” Bredeson said. “But there’s a lot of time to go into a city and explore on your own.”