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From Merrimack to London

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Alex Buonfiglio ‘15

Staff Writer

Ever traveled to London? This upcoming spring semester, 15 or so students will be given the unique opportunity to travel abroad to London. The trip is part of an exciting and newly developed “Travel Course” instructed by the director of the Honors Program, Professor William Wians.

This new course, which is a first-of-its-kind here at Merrimack, was open for registration to initially Honors students, but was made available to all students on Oct.1. The class will give students enrolled the extraordinary opportunity to actually visit the area that they will study in the classroom. This two-credit course must of course be taken on top of the typical four-class course load. The course will meet four times at Merrimack for around 100 minutes, and will conclude unlike any course you’ve probably taken at Merrimack before, that being an eight-day trip to London March 8 to March 15.

Adding to the intrigue of this class, is how the eight days in London are to be spent. Students will be split into groups at the first meeting, and each group is to act as trip advisors responsible for carefully planning out half-day events or tours the entire class can go on while in London.

“The class sets out to study a city as a text that can be read from so many different perspectives,” said Wians.

Speaking with the Professor, he explained that the goal of these team projects is to really get each students unique perspective of the city in the very short time they will actually be there. The hope for Wians is that a group of engineering students, and sports management students will have two very different viewpoints of the city. And those differing viewpoints will be expressed via the tour or event they choose to show to the class.

Beyond the half-day events planned by their classmates, students will go on numerous planned group activities to places such as the Tower of London, London Eye, and Houses of Parliament. Students will also be allowed to explore the city on their own and will have the benefit of accessible travel advice from the professor, who has himself lived in London for a year and taught in both Wroxton, England, and San Gimignano, Italy.

Wians, who has been director of the honors program for five years, has wanted to bring a program such as this to Merrimack since he started.

“My goal has been to connect some international experience with the honors program,” Wians said.

He is well traveled, and talked very passionately about the opportunity to be able to take students abroad for even such a short period of time.

“Studying abroad gives students the opportunity to experience another culture in ways you can’t from simply TV or text,” Wians stated. The way the class is designed, will really force the students to do plenty of additional research on London to be able to show the class the groups unique take on the city.

“This isn’t just tourism, I want the students to come back with a new appreciation,” said Wians.

The class has reached its 15-person cap for the upcoming semester.

“For me, I get to know the students in such an interesting way,” said Wians. “I get to know them more as people than just as students.”

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