Alumna Heidi Hagen did more than sight-seeing when she visited some of the world’s greatest historical and architectural landmarks in 2007.

As part of Ball State’s College of Architecture and Planning World Tour, Hagen and other architecture students visited design professionals and places, spaces, buildings, and gardens in urban, rural, and natural environments.

“Imagine learning your future profession by traveling around the world for a semester!” Hagen says. “I can’t think of a better way to have spent my final semester at Ball State. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Hagen graduated with a bachelor’s degree in architecture in May 2007 and began pursuing a master’s in architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that fall. In her first semester, she received an honorable mention in the Kengo Kuma Design Competition, presented by prestigious Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.

“Receiving an honorable mention in this competition was a big accomplishment for me,” she says. “The immersive learning experiences I had at Ball State really prepared me for what I’m doing now in my grad program and for this competition. Most significantly, I credit the World Tour and the opportunities and experiences that I brought back with me from that trip and incorporated into my thoughts and ideas.”

In summer 2008, Hagen, the three finalists, and 12 other honorable mention award winners will travel with Kuma for 10 days to study famous architectural designs in Japan.

“Traveling to Japan is definitely exciting news—that was one place I didn’t get to go during the World Tour. I’m fortunate to have the chance to go now. Visiting other geographic locations that have such prestigious architecture and cultural variety helps me grow and fulfill my dream of being an architect,” Hagen says.

From January to April 2007, the World Tour took Hagen, 32 other architecture students, and two professors to more than 50 cities in 23 countries.

“Traveling is the best way to learn,” Hagen says. “I love comparing new places to old, experiencing cultures and climates, and learning how other civilizations have been established and how we can build upon their considerations. I have learned which attributes can make cultures content and how that affects society, but more importantly, how each culture accomplishes the same goals as others by different means and methods.”