2024 Study Abroad Photo Contest winners announced

Winners’ photos on display in Ley Student Center

Sophia Figueroa's "Best in Show" submission for the 2024 Study Abroad Photo Contest

The winners of the 2024 Study Abroad Photo Contest have been announced by the Office of Study Abroad at Rice University.

Each year, the contest is held in March to showcase photos taken by students that portray the transformative experience students can gain through study abroad opportunities at Rice.

A total of 11 winners, two per category and one “Best in Show,” were announced. All winning photographs are now displayed at the Ley Student Center on the windows across from Rice Coffeehouse until graduation.

The winners are:

#RiceOwlsAbroad - First place

Mo Luna's "#RiceOwlsAbroad" submission for the 2024 Study Abroad Photo Contest.

Student name: Mo Luna

College: Duncan

Expected graduation year: 2024 (Senior)

Photo title: Carnglaze Caverns

Photo location: St. Neot, England


At the University of Exeter, there are events happening every week that focus on learning, having fun and making friends and connections. One of these events was taking a day trip to the Carnglaze Caverns in Cornwall, where the group got the opportunity to learn about the Cornish mining history and explore man-made caverns. One of the facts that stayed with me was the fact that these caverns were used to store rum during World War II! Everyone was cold and everyone was wet, but nobody cared because we were all having joyful conversations. Plus, the event organizers hadn’t expected the tour to be so short so the bus driver took us to the small shopping mall a town over, where the English people I met dragged me from store to store so I could appreciate what they grew up with.

#RiceOwlsAbroad - Second place

Gail Oudekerk's "#RiceOwlsAbroad" submission for the 2024 Study Abroad Photo Contest.

Student name: Gail Oudekerk

College: McMurtry

Expected graduation year: 2024 (Senior)

Photo title: From the Duomo di Firenze

Photo location: Florence, Italy

The Florence Duomo is one of the largest churches in the world. Its tower and dome with its shining golden orb on top are inescapable sights wherever you go in Florence and the surrounding towns and villages. It was the first thing I saw on my train ride into the city; I saw its outline in the distance every time I made a grocery run, early in the morning or after class. At the beginning and end of my time in Florence, I climbed the dome—up a cramped and steep series of stairs built right into the curve of the dome, my nerves jangling and calves burning—and emerged into the open air at the top. It meant so much to see how the streets, piazzas, museums, parks, and university buildings that were so unfamiliar to me at first had become beloved and known.

Postcard Perfect - First place

Ariah Richard's "Postcard Perfect" submission for the 2024 Study Abroad Photo Contest.

Student name: Ariah Richards

College: McMurtry

Expected graduation year: 2025 (Junior)

Photo title: Cape of Good Hope

Photo location: Cape Town, South Africa


Being from Houston I had never seen mountains until my time abroad. Cape Town is a city that sits between the mountains and the beach, and while I was there I took advantage of both. Hiking was more fun than I thought it would be, but learning about the history of these mountains was more interesting. Studying abroad allowed me to learn about the complex history of Cape Town from the perspective of professors, tour guides and my host family, which taught me how history is fluid depending on who you hear it from.

Postcard Perfect - Second place

Jessica Huang's "Postcard Perfect" submission for the 2024 Study Abroad Photo Contest.

Student name: Jessica Huang

College: Wiess

Expected graduation year: 2024 (Senior)

Photo title: Copenhagen Canals

Photo location: Copenhagen, Denmark


I was walking home on my familiar route through the city after class a few weeks into my time abroad when I stumbled into a stunning sunset, casting the hygge shops and waterfront restaurants into red and pinkish hues. A group of friends had rented a boat to drift through one of Copenhagen's many canals and I could hear their laughter, reminding me of the time I had done the same my first week in the city with people I barely knew. In that moment and place in time, I had established the basis for lifelong friendships. I am in awe of the way Copenhagen effortlessly creates space for people to truly connect and revel in the city's magic together.

Culture and Tradition - First place

Chloe Lim's "Culture and Tradition" submission for the 2024 Study Abroad Photo Contest.

Student name: Chloe Lim

College: Martel

Expected graduation year: 2026 (Sophomore)

Photo title: Royal Swedish Navy Band

Photo location: Stockholm, Sweden


This photo was captured during a class stroll through Sergels torg (Sergel's Square), Stockholm's bustling cultural hub. As my photography class embarked on a field study to explore Masayoshi Sukita's photo exhibition, we literally ran into an unexpected spectacle: the weekly Royal Swedish Navy Band's performance. The juxtaposition of traditional Swedish military marches against the backdrop of modern urban life perfectly illustrates how my experiences studying abroad created a deeper connection with the local community and meaningful encounters that transcend that of a typical tourist experience. Through my camera, I was able to keep a record of the diversity of cultural exchange of studying abroad with spontaneous encounters like these.

Culture and Tradition - Second place

Alex Janssen's "Culture and Tradition" submission for the 2024 Study Abroad Photo Contest.

Student name: Alex Janssen

College: Martel

Expected graduation year: 2025 (Junior)

Photo title: Minibus Misunderstanding

Photo location: Sai Kung, Hong Kong


I intended to take the minibus going South, but I went North instead. With no SIM and Internet, it was necessary to use my highly improvised Cantonese to get to my university campus, but not before walking around. HKUST is in Sai Kung district, a seafaring area largely known for its delicious seafood and excellent hiking opportunities. It's a highly natural environment, with many expat communities flocking to its relatively placid shores. This shot was pretty lucky: I was about to head to the minibus station before spotting that this road was interesting. I think it shows how important this nautical heritage is to my former Hong Kong home district and is a funny reminder of the improvisations needed before finally cracking how to get mobile Internet (spoiler, it took a month). Hong Kong is mainly seen through the glitzy modern culture and highly traditional elements: my Hong Kong experience was a third side.

The Global Campus - First place

Chiro Ogbo's "The Global Campus" submission for the 2024 Study Abroad Photo Contest.

Student name: Chiro Ogbo

College: Brown

Expected graduation year: 2024 (Senior)

Photo title: At the Household Arts Exhibition

Photo location: Marseille, France


This photo was taken at an exhibition at the Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean (MUCEM) in Marseille. This particular car had a fog machine with it, mimicking what a car with issues would look like. We eventually went to the museum during an excursion toward the end of the history of museums class. By this time, we weren't just visitors, but we had come to appreciate and understand how the concept of modern museums such as the MUCEM came about.

The Global Campus - Second place

Jena Manning's "The Global Campus" submission for the 2024 Study Abroad Photo Contest.

Student name: Jena Manning

College: Baker

Expected graduation year: 2024 (Senior)

Photo title: El choclo está listo

Photo location: Pedro Moncayo, Ecuador

During my study abroad, I conducted research on the impact of a microfinance institution on the productivity of local Ecuadorian smallholder farmers. In this research, I visited smallholder clientele in Pedro Moncayo and learned about the work processes and activities that they conduct on a daily basis. They grew a variety of crops— "choclo" (corn), fruits and vegetables, tilapia, flowers, etc. In this photo, I am picking off "choclo" that is ready to be eaten. One of the farmers taught me how to know when the corn is ready and the best methods to pick it off.

Everyday Life - First place

Langston Ford's "Everyday Life" submission for the 2024 Study Abroad Photo Contest.

Student name: Langston Ford

College: Wiess

Expected graduation year: 2025 (Junior)

Photo title: Tête à Tête

Photo location: Paris, France


Parisian public transit is a robust and interconnected network of trains, buses, and tramways. Even far outside the city, navigation without a car is very easy. This also means that all ages and groups are using public transportation to the fullest. As seen in the picture, an older couple sits across from each other on the line 58 Bus. The more you ride, the more you observe how social classes and mobility are affected by strong public transit infrastructure.

Everyday Life - Second place

Samek Rangarajan's "Everyday Life" submission in the 2024 Study Abroad Photo Contest

Student name: Samek Rangarajan

College: Lovett

Expected graduation year: 2026 (Sophomore)

Photo title: The Little Train

Photo location: Sus-Châtel, Switzerland


This photograph encapsulates one of the most significant parts of daily life in Switzerland: transportation. In a country where very few people drive, public transit is essential to getting around. This was the part of my study abroad experience where I felt the most truly Swiss. Planning my routes and navigating my way across the country was an exhilarating challenge. But most of all, riding in the train and staring out at the vast landscape of grapevines, corn fields, and crystal blue water, was the most relaxing way to start and end my day.

Best in Show

Sophia Figueroa's 2024 study abroad photo contest submission for "Best in Show."

Student name: Sophia Figueroa

College: Lovett

Expected graduation year: 2025 (Junior)

Photo title: Antarctic Exploring

Photo location: Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica


During my time abroad, I had the amazing opportunity to go to Antarctica for five days. The polar desert was breathtaking with all of its glaciers, icebergs, and of course, penguins. To be able to step onto this barren continent was a surreal experience that I truly will never forget. Applying knowledge learned in the program such as the effects of climate change on the different Patagonian and Antarctic ecosystems and inhabitants, eco-tourism, and Antarctic politics elevated the experience to the next level. I am extremely grateful to have been able to share this experience with the program and my semester’s cohort.