SUU students and faculty spend a week overseas in Lisbon, Portugal

A group of 22 Southern Utah University students and faculty members spent their spring holiday exploring the city of Lisbon, Portugal. The trip, sponsored by SUU’s Office of Learning Abroad, was led by Hayden Coombs, Ph. D., and Jonathan Holiman, who are both communication professors at SUU.

Portugal is a small country on the southwestern border of Europe; it is fully enveloped by Spain, save for its western coastline, which opens to the Atlantic Ocean. Portugal is a member of world organizations such as the United Nations, NATO and the European Union.

Highlights of the visit included walking the historic city’s streets, touring castles and monasteries, spending a day at Sintra — a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the outskirts of Lisbon — visiting the oldest operating bookstore in the world and sampling delicious local cuisine. 

“Taking a group of students to Portugal is something I’ve always wanted to do. I love this country, its people and its culture,” said Coombs, who also served a religious mission in the European nation. “These students have been a blast to travel with, and I hope they remember their experiences from this trip for years to come.” 

SUU’s Office of Learning Abroad provided students with a reduced travel price for this trip. Students paid $1,400 to participate in the program, which covered the costs of airfare, hotel accommodations and activities, while meals were paid for separately. 

“I’ve been to Europe before and have wanted to go back for so long. This trip provided me with the opportunity to do that,” said Jessie Hirzel, an SUU senior studying communication. “It was so fun spending time with my professors and friends in such a beautiful place. Hayden Coombs and Jonathan Holiman are the G.O.A.T. for making this happen.”

Do you or someone you know have questions about traveling with SUU’s Office of Learning Abroad? Their office can be found in the Sharwan Smith Student Center across the hall from the Leavitt Center for Politics & Public Service. You can also reach out via email at or visit

Article and photos by: Caden Butterfield