by Wendy Williamson, Director of Study Abroad, Eastern Illinois University
I’m just wondering if other U.S. colleges and universities are having the same problem…every faculty-led study abroad program to Italy (from my campus) goes to Florence. Actually, we have one that goes to Rome, but I don’t understand why more faculty don’t venture out a bit. Certainly Florence is a wonderful city, no doubt about it, but as a study abroad director, I’m interested in variety, and immersing students in Italian culture. Italy is a big, beautiful country with lots of variety and culture; Italy isn’t Florence. Maybe they just don’t know what else is out there? Hence, the reason for this post, which identifies five “other” places around Italy where faculty can (or already do) take their students to study abroad.
Most Unique Faculty-led Study Abroad Program – Harvard Univeristy offers a unique 8-week summer faculty-led program to study neuroscience at the University of Trento, organized by the Mind/Brain/Behavior Interfaculty Initiative. What better place to study the mind than in Italy! What I really like about this program is it enrolls both US and Italian students to foster a cross-cultural learning environment. More faculty-led programs should take this approach. I’ve never been fond of the floating American bubble abroad. Trento is on the northeast corner of Italy. The program also offers excursions and trips designed to immerse students in Italian culture and tradition.
Most Bang for your Buck (near Florence) – Casa Cares is a 15th century villa overlooking a beautiful valley with mountains on the other side. The villa houses guests, arranges airport transportation as well as excursions, and offers delicious meals by a gifted chef who features fresh ingredients and Tuscan dishes. They can also find local guest lecturers to teach your group. Ted Remley, Professor of Counseling at Old Dominion University, has been taking students here for the past seven years. He touts it as an inexpensive, high quality villa for student groups in the Tuscany region of Italy.
Most Authentic Italian – LDM Tuscania is a gem indeed, and I had a hard time deciding whether to award it with Most Authentic Italian or Most Undiscovered Gem (maybe both). Tuscania is more than 3000 years old and is one of the oldest towns in Italy. LDM is the exclusive study abroad provider in this little town and can customize wonderful faculty-led programs for students. It’s hard to put into words the beauty and magic of this place, but it seems to resist time in every dimension. Just one unique benefit of working with LDM is they can place students with host families or in apartments, whichever you prefer.
Most Undiscovered “Gem” – Babilonia Center for Italian Language and Culture is located on the mountain top, seaside medieval town of Taormina, Sicily. It provides both regular study abroad and customized faculty-led programs and is the only private school along with the Italian Universities whose students can participate in the Annual International Film Festival in June (2010 – 57th years old) which is housed in the 2000+ year old Teatro Greco, just a hop from Babilonia. Students enrolled in the Babilonia cinema course get free access to film festival screenings, lectures by producers, actors, screenwriters, award ceremonies and opening festivities. Earphones translate lectures into English. Summer program students are housed in pensione (host families are available if booked well in advance).
Most Off-the-Beaten-Path – Alas, MCAS is our choice for Most Off-the-Beaten-Path. This site was nominated by Rosemary Sands, Director of Study Abroad and Faculty-led Program leader at St. Norbert College. MCAS is located in Ortigia, historical center of the ancient city of Syracuse in Sicily. It is an enchanting location, not overrun by study abroad students and tourists. Faculty can choose to teach a course or just accompany a group. St. Norbert students took a 3-credit “Ancient & Medieval Art of Sicily” course along with 1-credit of “Survival Italian.” MCAS assisted with all of the arrangements: airport pick-up/drop-off, apartment housing, meal plan at a local restaurant, and numerous field trips (Agrigento, Palermo, Catania, Taormina). The staff are warm, welcoming and extremely helpful. The location lends itself to Classical Studies, Environmental Studies, History, Art, and Mediterranean Studies. Faculty-led programs can be arranged for J-Term, Maymester, Summer, and Semester.
Bonus (Opportunity to Teach) – CIMBA is nestled in the foothills of the Dolomite Mountains in the Veneto region of Northern Italy. At the base of the majestic Mount Grappa is CIMBA’s undergraduate campus in Paderno del Grappa, Italy. Paderno del Grappa and its population of 2,002 people (according to the 2001 National Census), provides a culturally rich, small-town study abroad location. Little or no English is spoken, forcing students out of their comfort zone. CIMBA offers business, journalism, and communication courses taught in English, giving students who do not know a second language the opportunity to study abroad in a non-English speaking country. Although CIMBA does not customize faculty-led programs, they are always looking for interested faculty members to teach.
Submitted by Wendy Williamson, Director of Study Abroad, Eastern Illinois University