Italy Bound Students Countdown for Takeoff

Italy 2Bound for the boot, 18 Vanguard University students and three professors pack their bags for a month-long study abroad in Italy.

Flying out on May 14 at 7 a.m., the group will pass through New Jersey and then arrive in Rome on the morning of May 15. Upon arrival, they will hop on a bus to Florence where they will spend the first two weeks of the program. When they finish their studies in Florence, they will return to Rome for their final two weeks abroad.

The program is created and run by Vanguard University and is worth nine credits. All-day classes are on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays leaving the weekends for homework and travel. Part of the homework has already begun as students have had papers and other homework to complete during this semester.

The professors heading up the trip and leading the program are all Vanguard University professors: Professor of Business and Management Ed Westbrook, J.D.; Department of Theatre Arts Chair Susan K. Berkompas, M.F.A; and Associate Professor of Systematic Theology Edmund J. Rybarczyk, Ph.D. Courses will include Christian Heritage, Introduction to the Arts, and a business course titled Negotiation and Dispute Resolution.

Looking forward to the adventure, junior Rebekka Ramirez, a communications major, said: “I’ve been wanting to go to Italy since I was six years old.” With that dream less than a week away, Ramirez said she is “pumped” but needs to get through finals week first.

With weekends to travel, Ramirez plans to keep school as her number one priority while getting a taste of Italy’s rich culture. There is “so much ancient architecture to explore,” Ramirez said. She plans to keep her travels within Italy so she can experience as much as possible there. Some other students plan to travel outside of Italy to places like Paris, France.

Describing the group of students she is going with, Ramirez said: “Everyone gets along really well. We mesh.” She said the group plans to “eat lots of gelato” and “walk everywhere and anywhere.” With this program, they will have the opportunity to see places like the Coliseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Vatican and much more.

Embracing a different culture, seeing artifacts and architecture from history books and eating lots of gelato are only a few highlights to this trip. Ramirez summed up her overall goal for the program by saying: “Just to experience a new country, a new lifestyle and learn as much as I can.”

Learn more about Vanguard University’s Study Abroad program online at

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