Honors Students Abroad

Studying abroad is one of the most exciting and influential opportunities that college has to offer.  It can be an eye-opening time, full of cultural immersion, unique classes, hands-on learning, and life-changing experiences. Honors students take full advantage of these opportunities, whether through their specific area of study or through an Honors learning cohort. Learning cohorts are learning communities in which Honors students take themed classes together and live in the freshman Honors dorm (Caughlin Hall). Then, during their sophomore year, cohort students go abroad through a program that aligns with the themed classes they have previously taken.

Villanova and the Honors Program offer a wide array of programs of international study, and below we ask three Honors students who have spent this spring semester abroad to tell us about their exceptional and impactful experiences. 

Lucy Finnegan

Lucy Finnegan (Left)

Class of 2018, Freshman
Majors: Accounting and English
Hometown: Washington, NJ

Program Overview
I am enrolled in the Business School’s Global Citizens Program in London, England. In this program, the semester is split into two parts: a ten-week academic portion and a six week internship. In terms of classes, I took British Life and Culture, Business in British Society, Macroeconomics, and Corporate Responsibility and Regulation. All of these classes were with my fellow Villanovans at Imperial University. Currently, I am an intern at Voyage Control, a startup company that focuses on reducing carbon emissions in the transportation sector. As an intern, I mainly conduct research projects and data analysis for the company.

What has been the highlight of your semester abroad?
My time abroad has been a truly wonderful experience. I’ve loved wandering the streets of London, having a casual drink with friends at the local pub, and taking weekend trips to other European cities. But my absolute favorite aspect of being abroad is being surrounded by Europe’s history. Since I was a young child, I’ve been fascinated by European history. Having the ability to visit the house of John Keats, to explore Windsor Castle, and see some of Mozart’s original works thrills me. Never shall I grow tired of learning more about Europe’s history.

What has surprised you the most about time abroad?
In my travels around Europe, the number of people who are at least bilingual has struck me. Everywhere I’ve gone, I haven’t had any trouble communicating with the locals because the majority of them know some level of English. Their knowledge of two languages has, quite frankly, made me feel inadequate with my singular knowledge of the English language. Thanks to them, I am inspired to further pursue my Spanish to fluency.

How have you seen your studies correlate with your location?
Nearly all of my classes had some kind of correlation with my daily London life. For example, in Macroeconomics we discussed the ongoing Eurozone crisis, a popular topic among Brits in the workplace and in the pub. In my British Life and Culture class, we discussed the differences and the underlying reasons behind those variations between American and British life. Many of those discussions prompted me to observe those disparities in style, religiousness, and speech in my normal, everyday life. Finally, my Business in British society class opened my eyes to the British work life culture, one that is much more relaxed and casual than America’s.

What have you been doing in your spare time?
With my free time, I’ve sought to explore London and the rest of Europe as much as possible. During my academic portion, I often visited a museum (got to take advantage of the free admission!) or a different part of London before or after class. One might think four months is long enough to fully experience a city, but I would disagree. I could spend years in London and still find new things to do! It truly is a spectacular city. Beyond adventuring in the streets of London, I visited Milan, Dublin, Amsterdam, and Paris, on a few of my weekends. All four trips were wonderful in their own way, whether it was the Italian gelato, the Irish friendliness, the scrumptious Dutch stroopwafels, or the Parisian charm. My only wish is that I had more time to travel and explore the wonders of Europe.

What will you miss the most?
When I leave London, I will dearly miss many things. The free museums, the coffee shoppes, the ease of travel, and the stylish men are only a few. But, most of all, I shall miss those terribly charming British accents.

Dana D'Amico

Dana D’Amico

Sophomore, Class of 2017
Major: Finance
Minors: Mathematics and Humanities
Hometown: Mullica Hill, NJ

Program Overview
My program is called Business Culture in the Italian Context (BCIC for short!) and is specifically designed for sophomore VSB students. I am here with 30 other Villanova students who are taking marketing and economics classes together. We are taking Competitive Effectiveness, a marketing and management class that all VSB sophomores are required to take. Students taking CE at Villanova work to develop a marketing plan for a real company, and through BCIC we do the same, but our partner company is Italian. This year we are working with an organic pasta and grain company called Terra Bio, and developing a plan for their potential entry into the U.S. market.

Most of us entered the trip speaking no Italian, so we are taking a basic Italian class (those who started the program with Italian experience are in a more advanced class). Our Italian language credit is based off both our traditional class, as well as a “conversation” class. In conversation, we talk to and mingle with Italian students from the University of Urbino who study English, and each get an opportunity to practice our respective second languages, as well as become friends with students from a different culture!

Finally, we are taking a global economy class and an Italian economic history class.

What has been the highlight of your semester?
The highlight of my experience has by far been the people I have met- both from Villanova and the University of Urbino. I have loved experiencing this new and beautiful country with so many new friends, who have made both the excitement and challenge of adapting to and learning about a new culture incredibly fun. The university students, including some who are our RAs and activity coordinators, have become really great friends. I have loved getting to know them. Though on the surface I may have felt very different from them, the more I spend time with them the more I realize that the differences between us are very small. It's been a very cool thing to observe.

And, ok, the other highlight is the food. I don't know how I'm going to go back to American pizza. Or ice cream. Gelato is a way of life.

What has surprised you the most about your time abroad?
I've been surprised at how receptive the Urbino students and citizens were of a group of 30 Americans in their small town. Urbino is not tourist-intensive at all, so most Urbino residents are not used to speaking or being spoken to in English on a regular basis. But throughout our adaptation to the language over the past few months, the Urbino residents have been at least patient, if not enthusiastic, in helping us learn. Some will speak their best English to us (which is generally very good), others will encourage us to learn (the food-servers in the cafeteria began teaching us the names of food when they noticed the best we could do was point and say "per favore?"), and even those who can speak no English generally show more amusement than impatience when we attempt to communicate with extremely basic Italian and some creative hand gestures. Overall, I have felt nothing but welcome in Urbino.

Related to that, I have also been surprised at how happy I am to be in a small town. Before the trip I wondered if I would have a better experience in a big city like Rome or Florence. After visiting a good few of the big cities in Italy, I've concluded that my experience is definitely different in Urbino, but, in my opinion, for the better. First of all, it is more authentic. Big cities are full of tourists, as well as an Italian culture catered toward the comfort (and wallets) of those tourists. On the other hand, in Urbino, we can immerse ourselves in genuine Italian culture. Walking around I hear only Italian spoken, which has not only forced me to speak more Italian, but also gives me a better picture of Italian culture. Secondly, Urbino is comfortable. Big cities can be hectic and overwhelming, as well as very dangerous. In Urbino, I see familiar faces everywhere- it is so easy to get to know locals. I have also always felt very safe in Urbino. Overall, I am very happy I chose a small town over a large city.

How have you seen your studies correlate with your location?
Most of my classes are very complementary to my location. The most obvious example is Italian, which has taught me how to (attempt to) communicate with local Italians, if even in the most basic way! My Italian economic history class is very specific to my location as well, and constantly references the culture characteristics and lifestyles that I witness every day. Taking CE in Italy is interesting because we learn a little bit about the differences between business in Italy and America, as well as work closely with Italian business-people, which is a great way to observe and appreciate culture differences and similarities.

What have you been doing in your spare time?
We usually take any opportunity possible to travel. We’ll often take trips over the weekends, but the most travelling so far has happened over our spring break. During spring break I travelled to London, Ireland, and Paris, all of which were incredible experiences (I loved Ireland so much that I went back for Easter break!!). The program plans four long weekend trips for us around Italy (to Milan, Rome, Bologna, and Lecce), and I’ve travelled to a few towns local to Urbino as well. In the rest of our free time, we explore our own city—places to eat, cool views, etc. There is a big area of high ground overlooking the city called the fortress (or "fortezza" ) where we often go to hang out or play football when it's nice out. It's a big social scene for the University of Urbino kids too.

Possibly my favorite activity so far has been cooking lessons at our activity-coordinator's house. His name is Nico, and he and his roommate taught us to make a delicious lasagna!

Colin Lubner

Colin Lubner

Sophomore, Class of 2017
Major: Math
Minor: English
Hometown: New Jersey (the nice southern part, where you can actually see the stars).   

Program Overview
The program I'm in is with the Global Scholars Humanities cohort, in the Honors program at Villanova.  I, and two other Villanova students, are currently studying at St Andrews in Scotland, where we are basically just another student at the school, and take the same classes full-time students are in.  I'm currently in two math classes, one philosophy, and one class called "Great Ideas" that sort of waffles aimlessly between subjects.  It's fun.

What has been a highlight of your semester?
I'm a golfer, so the first time playing on the courses at St. Andrews (the home of golf!) was pretty neat. Also, going into Prague with high expectations, and having them surpassed.  Seriously, it's something else.

What has surprised you the most about your time abroad?
A couple of answers come to mind. First off, they tell you that it will go fast, but it still comes a surprise. I was also surprised by the amount of Americans here.  For some reason I have been seeing people wearing Georgetown hoodies with ungodly frequency.  It's the strangest thing. Also, how much one really does rely on the changing of the seasons.  It's spring, there's flowers, but I can't get over the fact that here in Scotland, by the time I leave in late May, average temperatures won't even be out of the fifties.  The envy of the US's warm April days is very real on my end.

What have you been doing in your spare time?
During the weeks, I typically just hang out with a group of students I met in the hall I'm staying in.  Weekends I've either been making some trips to locales in Scotland, or enjoying a certain lowered age requirement over here.  I just got back from spring break, over which I visited Barcelona and Prague, both of which were awesome.

What will you miss the most?
a) Not the weather.
b) Probably the people I've met.  I've made some pretty good friends with some other students over here, and while some are American, it will be tough saying goodbye to the ones that live overseas.


Introduction written, and interviews conducted, by Newsletter Co-Editor, Richelle Hurley, LAS '17. Richelle is receiving a degree in Communication, with minors in Classical Studies and Peace and Justice. 

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