Study Abroad Photo Contest captures more than simply scenic views

Student photos from their semesters away on display through March 18

Singapore, Scotland and Spain are just a few of the countries represented in this year’s Study Abroad Photo Contest, now exhibited outside Rice Coffeehouse in the Ley Student Center through March 18.

Lucy Fox won Best in Show for "Sunset in Stromeferry."

Wiess College senior Lucy Fox won Best in Show for “Sunset in Stromeferry.”

Some photos capture intimate, everyday moments, like a simple spread of sausages, cheese and wine in Paris or a trio of cats lounging on the steps of a restaurant in Tanzania. Other images are grand, sweeping vistas, like a snowy city scene in Prague with the Vltava River peeking through fog in the distance or a Scottish sunset over Loch Carron outside Stromeferry. The Scotland photo won Wiess College senior Lucy Fox this year’s Best in Show award.

“We got about 60 photos this year,” said Rice Study Abroad adviser Dongming De Angelis, who recruited a team of six professors to judge the entries. Students who studied abroad through a Rice-approved program in 2018 were invited to submit entries in five different categories: people, places, nature, everyday life and culture. The panel of professors picked their top three photos in each category.

This year’s judges “are professors from all different fields: computer science, engineering, psychology, kinesiology, all over,” De Angelis said. “That kind of represents the students who study abroad. They are from all different kinds of backgrounds, all different majors. We have chemistry, we have social science, we have pre-med.”

Duncan College junior Jackson Stiles won first place in the Culture category for "Sancuary of Truth."

Duncan College junior Jackson Stiles won first place in the Culture category for “Sancuary of Truth.”

In the corridor where the winning images hang, De Angelis pointed to one of her favorite elements in a photo of the Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya, Thailand.

“If you look really closely you’ll see a line there,” she said. “That’s because construction is going on for the repair of this ancient temple. And I think it’s so cool to have that there because it documents a time. It’s something special. Next year if you go, it probably won’t be there.”

In another photo of what looks like a simple sunrise over the beach in Bali, De Angelis noted that there’s more than meets the eye. In the image’s description, Baker College senior Matilda Dang tells the story of overcoming her intense shyness while studying abroad in Indonesia, where she met and bonded with another young woman named Christine whose outline is shown in silhouette.

“I think from that you really see what we always tell the students: Study abroad is not just about study, it’s not about bringing back credits,” De Angelis said. “That part is really important — and for some students that’s the only reason they can go and stay on track with their Rice career — but what you really see is personal growth.”

Students, faculty, staff and visitors are invited to vote on the People’s Choice award by visiting the Study Abroad Photo Contest album on Facebook. The photo with the most votes by March 18 will be declared the winner.

Martel College senior Celina Tran won second place in the Places category for "Nyumbani Restaurant/"

Martel College senior Celina Tran won second place in the Places category for “Nyumbani Restaurant/”

Category: Best in Show
Winner: Sunset in Stomeferry by Lucy Fox

Category: People
First place: What Happened in Bali by Matilda Dang
Second place: Las Pompas de Sevilla by Alyssa Graham

Category: Places
First place: København by Jessy Feng
Second place: Nyumbani Restaurant by Celina Tran

Category: Nature
First place: Sunset in Stromeferry by Lucy Fox
Second place: The Gardens of Giverny by Emily Romero and Autumn on Petrin Hill by Kari Leigh Brinkley (tie)

Category: Everyday Life
First place: My Daily Walk to Class by Kari Leigh Brinkley
Second place: Beatrice the Bike by Ramee Saleh

Category: Culture
First place: Sancuary of Truth by Jackson Stiles
Second place: Pain, Vin et Fromage by Emily Romero

For more information on Rice’s study-abroad programs, visit

About Katharine Shilcutt

Katharine Shilcutt is a media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.