LV Life Editor
While some students were taking strenuous classes on campus this January, others were walking through the streets of ancient cities.
Rita Thakur, associate dean of the College of Business and Public Administration, and Al Clark, associate vice president for academic affairs, took undergraduate students of all different majors to tour parts of Italy and Greece for 10 days.
A group of 25 students visited Rome, Florence, Sorrento, Naples, Pompeii, Delphi and Athens, and they learned about the history and culture of these cities with the help of well-trained and educated tour guides from Education First College Study Tours.
“It was a great cultural experience even though it was only 10 days long,” said Eddie Zhao, a junior accounting major.
“It was great walking and touching buildings people touched 2,000 years ago. That is crazy to me,” he added.
In Pompeii, students saw how ancient Romans lived, how they collected water, and even where they slept.
Zhao explained how in today’s world there are advanced tools and highly skilled architects, but to think these ancient civilizations were able to build magnificent structure without the technology the world has today.
“It is insane how they could build those buildings,” Zhao said.
Also, Zhao mentioned the highly crafted and detailed mosaics in Pompeii.
Zhao said the mosaics on the wall were in exquisite condition with no scratches or damages.
The colors of the mosaic were still rich and colorful even after thousands of years.
“The best thing is seeing the students light up when looking at those structures,” Thakur said.
Stacey Marin, a junior English major and first time flyer, was able to see the art and architecture she learned about in school.
“It honestly made an impact on my life,” Marin said.
Not only does traveling make students culturally aware of the world, but it also builds self-confidence.
Zhao said on one day he decided to see Athens for a couple of hours by himself.
While on his own excursion, he got lost but managed to find his way back.
“If I could do this, I could do it in any country, especially since English is becoming a universal language,” Zhao said. “I recommend it (traveling) for everyone especially people who are scared.”
Before Zhao traveled to Italy, he had a preconceived idea of Italy.
He expected the food to be bad and small portions of it; however, he thought like many on the group that food was delicious, fresh and healthy.
The portions were like American portions and there were many courses.
Students become less afraid when they travel, Thakur said.
Some who had not visited Italy had heard Italy is dirty.
“There is a difference between old and dirty,” Thakur said.
“You can read and see a picture of a place, but it is never like actually seeing it in person,” Thakur said.
The only negative aspect of the trip was the long bus rides, one ride being four hours long, Zhao said.
However, the bus ride allowed the students to catch up on some sleep or take in the beautiful landscapes.
On the drive to Naples, Zhao forced himself to stay awake because he wanted to experience the cultural aspect of Italy.
“It was more than I expected,” Zhao said. “I felt like that drive to Naples was Italy in a nutshell.”
Thakur believes students should travel now that they are in college rather pushing it for later in life.
January Term trips are a way for students to step out of their comfort zone and take baby steps toward a life full of traveling.
Thakur suggests once students feel comfortable taking a January term trip with any group on campus, they should do a semester in another country.
“It (traveling) really is a life changing experience, and can give you a new perspective on yourself and the people around you,” Marin said.
“I have a newer appreciation for students who choose to study abroad a semester in a different country,” Marin added.
“I think your eyes are the telescope to the world,” Thakur said.
That telescope only works if you move it,” Thakur added.
Natalie Veissalov can be reached at email@example.com.