Sunset at Ortygia Island. (image credit Stefano Parenti)

During spring break of next year, many students will be participating in a variety of activities. For a few conscientious students, spring break grants them the opportunity to travel outside of the United States to the beautiful country of Italy. Between March 8 to the 17, students in Professor Andrea Bard’s Intercultural Communications course will be exploring the island of Sicily.

The trip costs $2,690 per person and includes airfare, a place to stay, all experimental learning activities and an on-site program coordinator. Students will be participating in discussions, on-site lectures, field trips to different businesses and more.

Specific activities on the itinerary include ceramic making, a trip to St. John’s Catacombs, a trip to Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe, and even a Sicilian cooking class. Bard admits she’s most excited about the cooking class, “Culture is all about food,” she says.

Intercultural Communications, or COM-220, began their annual trips approximately six years ago with a trip to Greece. “I ended up taking students who had never even been out of New England before,” said Bard. Greece was a huge success and led to several more yearly trips; the first trip was to Belgium, then Florence and even Madrid and Chile.

Bard and the Study Abroad Office are currently working together to find one place COM-220 can travel to each year. The Fashion Merchandise students, for example, travel to Florence annually. Sicily seems to be the perfect candidate.

“It’s not just one culture,” Bard says in regards to Sicily. “It’s this [wide array] of so many different cultures.”

Bard has been searching for a place that offers several different cultural experiences, and Sicily may just be the place. In addition to this trip, the Summer Abroad Program also brings students to Sicily for a longer, more in-depth exploration of the island in the summer.

Professor Bard stressed the alternative break trip as a fabulous way to prepare yourself for a summer abroad.

“Sometimes what I find is people will choose to take this trip because they haven’t done a lot of traveling, so they’re a little nervous about studying abroad themselves,” said  Bard. “I’ve had a couple of students introduce themselves to [the] international world through these programs and then go back and decide to study abroad someplace else because now they have the guts to do it.”

When asked again about the COM-220 trip to Sicily, Bard remained adamant that students should take advantage of the opportunity.

“Sell your worldly goods. Do whatever it takes. Take advantage of some kind of travel program, this one or someone else’s because these are the types of things that change your life,” she says. “You’ll never be able to go and get what you’re going to get on this trip any place else.”

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