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The Summer Study Abroad fair in the Connelly Center last Friday gave interested students the opportunity to engage in conversations with former participants and faculty members about study abroad trips in order to get a sense of how valuable it can be to experience a new environment for a summer, or even a semester.

The office of International Studies offers students the ability to travel to a wide range of destinations, including, but not limited to, Chile, China, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Egypt, England, France, Ghana, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Russia, Rwanda and Spain.

Recently, the office has added new locations for the 2014 school year including sites in Shanghai, China; Lille, France;  San Giminiano,  Italy; and Seoul, South Korea.. All of these programs provide students with a chance to gain a diversified educational experience, whilst still allowing the opportunity for exposure to all different customs, cultures and traditions.

A summer spent in Galway, Ireland, promises five unforgettable weeks of history, culture and merriment. Students spend their time touring the city of Dublin, attending a play at the Abbey Theatre and visiting the remains of a medieval monastery in Clonmacnoise, among many other worthwhile adventures. Not only will students learn and become familiar with the traditions of Irish culture, but also truly live like the Irish: visiting local pubs, enjoying a plate of fish and chips and staying with host-families.

The summer abroad in Ireland allows students to take two three-credit courses in areas like archaeology, language, history, literature, dance, music and sociology. This summer abroad trip is one of many that will allow students to experience once in a lifetime moments while furthering their education and exposing them to the richness of cultures that exists across the Atlantic.

If students are interested in spending more than a few weeks abroad, the Villanova School of Business offers the Business and Culture in the Italian Context program in Urbino for the spring semester. Currently, the program is in its second year fostering another group of Villanovan’s after a pilot program in spring of 2013 that was incredibly successful.

Juniors Carlos Gallardo, Sarah Clark and Jennifer Flannery described their semesters in Italy as nothing short of life changing.

“I feel like in Urbino we became completely immersed,” Clark says of her experience. In Urbino, students dive into the Italian culture experiencing the language, food and traditions of the people first-hand, without being marred by the nuisances of a touristy city.

“Honestly, my outlook on life changed,” Flannery says. “Urbino is very unique in that it’s a very small town and you get a really authentic feel of Italy as opposed to staying in a very americanized, touristy city. We obviously still go see those areas and they’re easy to get to, but in Urbino you live like a real Italian, and your friends are Italian.”

Part of what attracts students to this program is the ability to travel with a group of fellow Villanovans, but still connect with other people from around the world. “Urbino is a college town so you meet people from Ireland, South Africa and France,” Flannery says. “Those are your friends, and it’s just completely amazing.”

Though it is not necessary to speak Italian to find your way around Urbino, for Gallardo it added to the enjoyment of his experience. “My favorite memory of studying in Italy is traveling around the country and visiting a place called Cinque Terre which was beautiful, and being able to speak the language was amazing,” Gallardo says.

While abroad, students in the Business and Culture in Italian Context program get to fulfill several of their requirements as business students.

The Competitive Effectiveness course students take in Italy is much different from the typical CE class here on campus. Gallardo, Clark and Flannery were the first to experience CE in this context, where they developed a marketing plan for a local vineyard in Italy. In this manner, students were able to consult with an Italian company, gaining immediate experience about global business.

Created to fit perfectly within a sophomore business student’s curriculum, this program is also available to students minoring in business. Dr. Kevin Clark, Associate Professor of Management and Operations, reviews applications for the program and emphasizes the uniqueness of the combination of students in the Villanova School of Business with students in the other colleges.

“Business minors can take this too,” Clark says.  “We do have a sizeable number of students who are in the College of Arts and Sciences. The main thing is this is structured around our curriculum. A lot of times if you study abroad during a semester, it’s a problem getting courses with credits that actually count towards your degree. This is designed specifically around the VSB core curriculum for sophomores. In my experience, having students outside of VSB in a class is cool. It’s a nice mix. It feels different when you teach it.”

The students and faculty members at the study abroad fair displayed enthusiasm and passion for the trips that they have participated in or led. Their experiences abroad are examples of why every student should try to go abroad at least once during their Villanova career.

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