Seton Hall's first study abroad trip since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has taken flight! The Catholic Studies study abroad experience in Italy, through the course Foundations of Christian Culture – Italy, is underway from March 2 through March 14, 2022.
Ines Murzaku, PhD, Director of the Catholic Studies Program, is leading students on a 12-day tour of sites that have played key roles in the development of Christian culture, from the days of the days of the Roman Empire through the present. Dr. Murzaku's research and teaching have taken her around the world, but she has a special love for Italy. In addition to having completed her doctorate at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, she has worked as an analyst for Vatican Radio International Programs and has held visiting professorships in Bologna and Calabria.
"For me," Dr. Murzaku said, "bringing a group of students to Italy is a chance to show them places I that I love – places that have enriched my mind, heart, and spirit. I am thrilled that Catholic Studies, with support from the Office of International Programs, has been able to resume international study abroad trips."
Students, who have met for several pre-travel classes in preparation for the study abroad experience, will see history come to life before their eyes, as they explore sites of archaeological and spiritual significance throughout Sicily, the Amalfi Coast, and Rome. After landing in Rome, the group will visit Naples and the surrounding region, with opportunities to admire the world-renowned Veiled Christ statue in the San Severo Chapel Museum, tour the ruins of ancient Pompeii, and savor a ride along the picturesque Amalfi Coast.
After a short flight to Sicily, the group will visit Mount Etna and spend time in Taormina, Noto, Siracusa, Piazza Armerina, Agrigento, Erice, and Palermo. Students will tour sites that date from Greek civilization on the island; Catholic cathedrals; the world's most extensive collection of Roman mosaics; remains of Norman influences; and Greco-Roman, Medieval, and Baroque art and architecture.
Three glorious days in the Eternal City will round out the study abroad trip. Highlights of the group's time in Rome will include a guided tour of a guided tour of the Spanish Steps; the Trevi Fountain; Navona Square; the Pantheon; the Colosseum; the Roman Forum; and the Basilicas of St. Paul Outside the Walls, St. John Lateran, and St. Mary Major. The pinnacle of the trip will be Sunday noon Angelus with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
"The trip to Italy that correlates with the Foundations of Christian Culture course and touches upon themes, places, and concepts discussed in other Catholic Studies courses provides the students with a rich cultural and spiritual experience," said Gloria Aroneo, MBA. "It is a tribute to the dedication of the Catholic Studies Program and to Dr. Murzaku's leadership that we have continued to provide the students with this life-changing experience."
As anticipation was building in the days leading up to the trip, several students shared their thoughts about the upcoming study abroad experience in Italy.
"I chose this study abroad because not only do I love the foods native to Italy, but also its rich history connects to the person I am today. I feel confident traveling after COVID … I find this an opportunity to enjoy life in full; to travel, to love, to learn, and to share!" - Micayla Asamoa-Afriyie, Political Science major
"For me as a nursing student, the Seton Hall study abroad opportunity in Italy provides the opportunity to gain increased personal awareness of a culture in another part of the world, since cultural competence is a critical piece of the nursing profession. Also, this trip meets an academic requirement for my minor in Catholic Studies. Traveling during the COVID pandemic can create fear, but trusting the process and having a positive outlook on things we can’t control makes this experience even more exciting." - Cynthia Cote, Nursing major, Catholic Studies minor
"I selected this study abroad because I want to learn more about Catholic history and Italian culture. I have never been to Italy before, and I see this trip as a unique opportunity to experience and see the art, history, and Christian culture of Italy. I am also very excited to try the delicious food. I am looking forward to traveling after restrictions are starting to ease. I had plans to go to Italy and to Israel the last two years, but COVID restrictions and concerns delayed these trips." - Jasmine De Leon, Diplomacy and International Relations major, Journalism and Chinese minor
"I am going on the study abroad trip because I'm interested in experiencing another culture and getting to know my fellow students through a shared experience." - Armand Liloia
"I decided to choose this particular study abroad program in Italy because I am interested in seeing all the wonderful historic places that formed and shaped the foundations of Christian thought. In addition, I realize it will be a great opportunity to deepen my faith and enrich my spiritual journey." - Maria Smutelovicova
"I chose this study abroad program because I have always wanted to broaden my education in Catholic history, and I love Italy. The thought of traveling after COVID is scary, but it gives me hope that the world is returning to normal, and I am excited about that." - Angela Noyes
"I've always wanted to travel in college and thought this trip to Italy would be a great experience. I feel comfortable traveling after COVID and am excited that cities and tourist sites around the world are reopening." - Annamarie Anton
For the Spring 2023 semester, Catholic Studies is planning another study abroad trip: Italy in the Footsteps of the Saints. For further information, please contact Gloria Aroneo at Gloria.Aroneo@shu.edu or (973) 275-2808.
About Catholic Studies:
Catholic Studies at Seton Hall University offers an innovative, interdisciplinary curriculum for students of any creed who are interested in deepening their knowledge of Catholicism's rich intellectual tradition and living heritage. Combining the study of history, philosophy, theology, literature, art, sociology, and other disciplines, Catholic Studies focuses on the Church's dialogue with culture and encounter with the world. Students interested in Catholic Studies have the option to pursue a major, minor, or certificate that complements and enhances the university's other degree programs and fields of study. Over 20 years the academic program and its variegated activities have stayed true to and fulfilled the Catholic mission and vision of the University. For more information, please contact Ines Murzaku, PhD, Director of the Department of Catholic Studies, at Ines.Murzaku@shu.edu, or Gloria Aroneo at Gloria.Aroneo@shu.edu.