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College of Arts and Sciences

Discovering the Treasure of a Seton Hall Education in Italy

Sicily, ItalyFor many people, with summer comes anticipation of travel. For 23 Seton Hall students, this summer begins with reflection on a noteworthy academic and spiritual adventure that took them a continent away during the Spring 2024 semester.

Students in the Catholic Studies Program’s course Foundations of Christian Culture ventured to Italy over spring break, led by their professor, Ines A. Murzaku, Ph.D., professor, Department of Religion, director, Catholic Studies Program, and founding chair, Department of Catholic Studies. In Italy, not only did they discover deep connections between theological and artistic concepts they had studied prior to embarking, but they also were surprised to learn life-changing lessons about the coexistence of contemporary Italian culture and the roots of Christianity. After experiencing life in Sicily, the Amalfi Coast and Rome, students came back eager to share their new perspective with our campus community and with those they’ll encounter this summer.

Several of the students who participated in this study abroad program shared their reflections on how this experience was truly a meeting of Seton Hall with the world: The students took the University with them to Italy, and they brought Italy back to Seton Hall.

My travel companions and I brought Seton Hall to every single place we visited by demonstrating the University’s commitment to academic excellence and growth with every tour we went on. As a group, we also represented Seton Hall in the best way possible by making connections with the locals and showing how kind and compassionate we are as a community.

For me as a student who does not practice the Catholic faith at Seton Hall and may have not understood all the values that come with it, the study abroad experience really opened my eyes to how beautiful it truly can be. Many see traveling to another country as an escape from everyday life, but in reality, you’re witnessing the culture of other people firsthand. By going place to place and church to church learning about the foundations of Christian culture through the eyes of many different saints, I was also broadening my religious knowledge, which I will forever be grateful for.

The entire trip was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me as well as many other students. I know that everything that I learned abroad, whether it was about culture, religion, history or anything else, I will keep with me forever. One thing that was most important and stuck with me was that you can’t truly step into and experience a culture without knowing the background and history that comes along with it. Many take advantage of Italy as a beautiful tourist attraction, which it is, but it also has so many layers that one must uncover to see how it has adapted over the centuries.
-Mia Evon ‘25, Psychology (major), Criminal Justice (minor)

My peers and I brought Seton Hall to the people and places we visited by sharing our experiences. We were able to bring a different perspective and share our culture with the people we met throughout Italy.

By traveling, I was better able to understand the efforts Seton Hall makes to establish a community that fosters the development of education. The program I participated in allowed me to fulfill degree requirements while making many memories and experiencing things in Italy that are truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I learned so much that pertained to the course, but also the overall culture of Italy.

Since this study abroad course focused on the foundations of the Christian culture, a lot of the lessons pertained to the Christian faith. I also learned many general lessons because of this experience. For example, I learned a lot about the Italian culture and how their perspectives and cultural norms differ from ours. This was a very interesting takeaway, and I left Italy with a greater understanding of and love for Italian culture.
-Isabella Field ’25, Psychology (major)

Throughout the time in our study abroad course, my classmates and I carried Seton Hall with us in spirit, as we embraced the education and Catholic undertones of the experience, but also in attitude, celebrating when the Seton Hall University men’s basketball team won against Villanova and DePaul!

When I first embarked on the study abroad trip to Italy, I was not previously educated on the history of Catholicism and the European religious influences on American and Seton Hall culture. But after having experienced this amazing trip, I feel that I can more accurately recognize and appreciate the Catholic nuances in modern culture.

For me personally, the most significant experience of Italy was in our trip to Rome, and the tour around what once was the Roman Empire. Experiencing, in real life, the same buildings and streets that have inspired so many influential minds was astonishing.
-Amanda Burns ’25, Honors Psychology (major), Chemistry (minor)

My travel companions and I brought Seton Hall and our own individual cultures and experiences to the people we met on our trip. We were able to share our individual perspectives and lifestyles with others we encountered on the trip and to learn more about other cultures in the process, allowing us to learn the importance of being open to new experiences and appreciating the customs, traditions and ways of life of the people we met.

By participating in this study abroad experience, I was able to better understand and appreciate Seton Hall’s Mission Statement, as the focus of our University is on fostering academic and ethical development in a diverse and collaborative environment. I was really able to develop my knowledge, as I was able to see and learn more about class content through direct and hands-on experiences, which allowed me to better connect with what I was learning in my course and transfer it to real life. I was also able to learn so much about other cultures and to compare and contrast them to my own, allowing me to be more open and appreciate other ways of life.

From this study abroad experience, I learned the importance of learning more about ancient civilizations and about other cultures and experiences. I was able to expand my worldview and understand that there are so many differing perspectives and ways of life. I also learned how essential it is to be open to other viewpoints and be knowledgeable about where and how we got here so that we can learn how to better appreciate the world around us.
-Lesley Joseph ‘25, Special Education and Social and Behavioral Science (majors)

Spring 2025 study abroad opportunities through Catholic Studies include Italy in the Footsteps of the Saints and Catholic Social Work and Service in Mexico. 

Categories: Arts and Culture, Education