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Reggio Emilia Collaborative Study Abroad

Clemson University Students Study Abroad in Reggio Emilia, ItalyHistory of the Program

Reggio Emilia, Italy is a city of around 175,000 in north-central Italy. It is located in the agricultural and textile-rich area of Italy and is known for the outstanding schools, healthy communities, beautiful architecture, and a rich history of the arts. This region of Italy is also known for its balsamic vinegar, Cheese, wine, textiles, and design.

Students from Clemson University first traveled to Reggio Emilia, Italy in May of 2006 to study the Reggio Emilia Approach to education. Joining the Clemson group were students and faculty members from the College of Charleston. A few years later, the University of South Carolina joined the group, thus the Reggio Emilia Collaborative Study Abroad trip has evolved into a very successful experience for approximately 30 students and 6 faculties from these universities in South Carolina.

The focus of the trip includes the schools, communities, and host families in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Students are paired and stay with an Italian host family who provides housing and meals for the students. In addition, these Italian families embrace the American study abroad experience, and they fold their student into their daily routines and family life. Students indicate that staying with an Italian host family is one of the highlights of the experience. Enduring relationships are built between our students and the Italian parents and children, and frequently these relationships result in future trips to Italy by our students and to America by the host families.

Cultural Immersion Experience

This cultural immersion experience in Italy provides participating students with 3-6 credit hours at the undergraduate or graduate levels, beginning Italian language lessons, observation and direct experiences in Italian classrooms at a level of the student’s choice, visits to community sites and workshops at the ReMida Center, Malaguzzi Center, and an Italian dance class. On the weekends, students and faculty travel together to Florence and Venice, and students can elect to stay overnight on these weekend trips. In addition, small groups of students travel on their own to Cinque Terra, Parma, Bologna, Modena, and other cities in Italy.

There is a close relationship between the students and the participating faculty members. Students study a selected topic of research and work with an assigned faculty member, and faculty also travel with the students and share experiences with them. The ratio of faculty to students is about 1 to 6, and this provides a safe and positive experience for all.

Traveling to Europe is a rare opportunity and we encourage and support our students’ travel before or after the scheduled trip. Sometimes students fly into Rome and spend several days there before joining the group in Milan’s Malpensa airport to begin the formal study abroad experience. Other times, students complete the trip and then travel together or with family members to other sites in Italy or to another country before returning to the States. We encourage students to explore Europe while they have the opportunity, and we work with students to find flight connections, hotels, and other planning in order to facilitate the experience for the student.

Students’ Responses to the Trip

Students share their primary reactions to the trip and these include:

  • A love of the country of Italy and the hospitality of the host families;
  • Enjoying the chance to meet other students and to form lasting friendships;
  • A chance to take Italian conversational language lessons while in Italy
  • Their own personal and professional growth that can happen only in a study abroad experience
  • A broadened view of the world and a new appreciation for the global lives we lead and for the Italian culture, including language, dress, food, money, customs, educational practices, and health services
  • Earning 3 to 6 Clemson credits that can count toward their program requirements or electives

Who Should Participate?

This trip is open to any Clemson student in good standing. The trip is especially appropriate for students majoring in education, nursing, psychology, sociology, public health, and PRTM, as well as other related majors. Students interested in learning more about the diverse school settings for children from preschool through high school are invited to participate.

In order to participate, students must make application and pay a deposit of 350.00, which is subtracted from the program fee. We accept students in good standing and with complete applications on a first come basis, and we consider applications submitted by November 15th. Students are invited to contact any of the participating faculty members to discuss the trip and to ask questions and request assistant for the application process.

Financial Aspects

For a three-week comprehensive experience in Italy, students have these expenses:

  • Program fee of $2900.00 to cover housing, meals, travel, language lessons, insurance, bus passes, and group travel during the trip
  • Course tuition and study abroad fees of approximately $2000.00 for 3 hours of undergraduate credits
  • Flight cost of about $1200.00, which can be selected by the student individually, including using frequent flyer miles.
  • Spending money for individual travel, shopping, and other student-selected activities. This varies from student to student but a good estimate is $500.00 for the trip.
  • Financial aid is also available for most students. Study abroad advisors can assist students as can personnel in Sykes Office of Financial Aid who specialize in advising students wanting to enroll in study abroad courses. Students may use scholarship funds, grants, or low-interest loans. Students typically get support from family and friends also.

Courses Available

Students may take 3 or 6 hours of credits, and both graduate and undergraduate credits are available. Detailed course information is provided in individual meetings with students and the courses include the following:

  • ED 4380/8380 Selected Topics
  • ED 4390/8370 Independent Study
  • EDEC 8000 Parent Education in Multicultural Settings
  • EDEC 3360 Play and Social Development of Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers

Reggio Emilia Study Abroad faculty members work with students and the students’ advisors to determine which courses are best suited to each student’s program of studies.

We invite you to participate in this very successful three-week trip to Italy. This year we will be celebrating our 12th year of the trip!