UIndy students traveled to Italy this past May as part of Spring Term 2022. While there, they explored three different sides of Italy: Rome, Venice and Cinque Terre.
The trip was originally planned for 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Jennifer Camden, professor and associate chair of the Department of English and the Beverly J. Pitts Distinguished Professor of the Ron and Laura Strain Honors College, served as trip leader alongside former-UIndy-staff-turned-travel-agent, Christen Oganowski, MAVTravel LLC.
Dr. Camden’s area of study and scholarship is 19th century British literature, which served as a theme and focus of the trip.
“This trip was inspired by the fact that a lot of 19th century British men and some women would take a grand tour as a sort of finishing of their education,” said Dr. Camden. “I wanted the group to think about that idea of the grand tour. We saw a lot of the sites that John Keats and Mary Shelley had traveled to and that Alfred Tennyson had written about.”
As part of their preparation for the trip, the students were assigned a historical site or a literary representation of a historical site in Italy. They would then present their research back to the group so that everyone would have a shared cultural understanding of the 19th century grand tour and some context for the sites they would be visiting throughout the trip.
Sophie Coy ‘24 (Nursing) appreciated the focus of the trip and how it brought her studies to life.
“It seemed very surreal to be walking around ancient structures and all the history,” said Sophie. “Going to a classical high school, I learned a lot about the Romans and even took Latin! It was really amazing to see the things I read about and apply what I learned.”
While Dr. Camden has led spring term trips to Italy in the past, this was her first time taking a group to Cinque Terre, a group of coastal villages in Northern Italy. This new experience led to one of her favorite memories from the trip.
“We took a very hot and very memorable hike along the trails linking two of the five villages,” recounted Dr. Camden. “Later, Christen and I took a kayak tour and recommended it to all the students because it was really cool to see the town by water: we will definitely add that to the group itinerary for future trips!”
Marissa Knobloch ‘23 (Sport Management), who had never traveled outside of the United States prior to this trip, also made one of her favorite memories in Cinque Terre.
“Our last day in Cinque Terre, we were on the beach and we randomly decided to take the train to another island,” said Marissa. “And we went cliff jumping. I would say that was one of my top memories from the trip.”
In fact, several of the most memorable moments from the trip involved boats and water.
“I think one of the highlights for the group as a whole was a sunset gondola ride during our first night in Venice,” said Dr. Camden. “Venice is such a beautiful city and the canals are its most distinctive feature. To see that city by water as people have for thousands of years was really amazing.”
While traveling outside of the country can be nerve wracking, Marissa and Sophie both agree that it was worth the challenge to make amazing memories like these and would encourage other UIndy students to travel abroad if they can.
“I knew I wouldn’t have many opportunities to study abroad during the actual school year because of my nursing major,” explained Sophie. “With clinicals and the way the courses are set up, it wouldn’t have really worked out well. I’ve always wanted to study abroad and when I found out you could study abroad for spring term, I was immediately interested!”
“Do it,” said Marissa. “I was very nervous. I’m terrified of flying and I didn’t know anybody that was going on the trip. Now I’ve made some of my best friends on this trip. I think if you’re scared at all, but you want to do it, just go. It could be the best experience of your life.”
Dr. Camden also encourages students and even faculty and staff to take advantage of the many travel opportunities offered at UIndy.
“I would say that you will never be able to travel as inexpensively as you can as a student,” said Dr. Camden. “Nor will you have the space in your life necessarily to travel this way. Do it now while you have the opportunity to go with friends and support. Go now so that you can get the travel bug and feel comfortable going on your own later.
“For faculty, I really think studying abroad is one of the most wonderful kinds of co-educational experiences we can offer our students,” added Dr. Camden. “I love teaching British literature in my classroom, but there’s something really neat about helping students see the world and see how the literature that we’ve read comes from these other places. I think every discipline can gain something through travel. It’s a very rewarding experience.”
Looking ahead, Dr. Camden is in the process of planning a 5-week trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, for the summer of 2023. Dr. Camden and Dr. Milind Thakar, professor of international relations, will teach courses related to Scottish literature and current events in addition to leading the group on tours and other explorations of the country.
“We’ll be based in Edinburgh, which is an amazing city,” said Dr. Camden. “We would love to take as many people as are interested.”
Students, faculty and staff interested in joining future UIndy-led trips, including the upcoming trip to Scotland with Dr. Camden and Dr. Milind Thakar, are encouraged to explore their study abroad options online and to contact the study abroad advisor to start planning!