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The Spring Semester Opening Orientation (Two Days / January – Swiss Alps)
The January Opening Orientation event will bring the entire Spring Hill College Italy Center community to Interlaken, Switzerland for fun (and some work). The January Orientation is an opportunity for all within the community to get to know one another and to explore the world-famous Jungfrau region of the Alps. The Orientation includes youth hostel, transportation and some meals. Time will be set aside for community building and information sessions on how to maximize your stay in Bologna, Italy and Europe (academics, travel, safety, getting to know the Bolognese culture, Italian college life, and how to keep safe and healthy). The program will also focus on the impact of climate change on the Swiss Alps and will include a lecture from a local environmental activist. Ample free time will be made available during the Orientation for those who wish to ski, snowboard, snowshoe or sled. Students will be asked to pay for the optional outdoor adventure activities. Interlaken offers limitless activities for those who love snow and also offers opportunities for those who are seeking culture indoors (i.e. restaurants, galleries, shopping), near a warm fire, behind a large cup of hot Swiss chocolate. The winter Orientation program offers something for everyone (www.outdoor-interlaken.ch)
Spring Social Justice Closing Tour in Tunisia
In recent months, Tunisians managed to succeed in ousting Dictator Ben Ali who had controlled all aspects of their lives for 25 years. The non violent peaceful “Jasmine Revolution” has been hailed as the impetus to bring bout radical changes in the Arab working in the year 2011. Tunisia is safe and is considered an ally of the United States.
This Spring Semester Social Justice Tour is designed to integrate topics which have been explored in your Bologna courses. The Spring Social Justice Tour is designed to introduce the serious student to the culture, history, and politics of Tunisia, an Arab country that serves as the present-day embodiment of the Carthaginian Empire – one of the greatest empires in the history of the Mediterranean. A unique combination of site visits and lectures by Tunisian scholars will focus on the politics of democratization in the Arab world, the role of women in Muslim society, Arab perceptions of U.S. foreign policy, U.S. perceptions of Tunisia’s role in the global war on terrorism, and the history of Islam in North Africa.
Day 1 – Milan-Tunis
The group will first visit to the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, including a presentation and question-and-answer session with U.S. Embassy State Department Officials. The evening will include and optional visit to the picturesque, cobbled streets of Sidi Bou Said overlooking the Gulf of Tunis, including drinks at a traditional café.
Day 2 – Tunis
The morning lecture will focus on the potential for Tunisia to become the model Arab nation which upholds Islam and democracy side-by-side. Afternoon visit to the Bardo Museum, which once served as the palace of the Husseinite Beys (traditional rulers of Tunisia from 1705 to 1957), that currently houses the most renowned collection of mosaics from the Roman Empire.
Day 3 – Tunis-Sousse
Tour of the Tunis suburb of Carthage, including visits to the U.S. Military Cemetery (the resting place for U.S. military personnel killed in North Africa during World War II), the Sanctuary of the Tophet (sacrificial site of the Carthaginian Empire), the Punic Ports (the military and economic heart of the Carthaginian Empire), and Byrsa Hill (the spiritual center of the Carthaginian Empire).
Day 4 – El Jem/Gabes/Matmata
Breakfast at the hotel followed by departure to the magnificent Roman amphitheatre in El Jem. Afternoon visit to the underground troglodyte dwellings of Star Wars fame, including the set of the famous “bar scene” in the original Star Wars movie. Dinner and overnight at the troglodyte-style hotel.
Day 5 – Camping in the Sahara Desert
Early departure to the desert oasis town of Douz that borders the Sahara Desert. Optional hour-long camel trek into the desert. Late afternoon arrival in the desert where students will sleep in eight person tents.
Day 6 – Tozeura/Tamerza
Departure via 4-wheel drive vehicles across the Chott el-Jerid salt lake (where scenes for the movie English Patient were filmed) en route to Tozeur. Continue in 4-wheel drive vehicles stopping for lunch at the Tamerza Palace (5-star hotel) in the mountain town of Tamerza. Evening visit via 4-wheel drive vehicles to mountain oases of Chebika and Tamerza.
Day 7 – Sbeitla
Early departure via bus to the Red Lizard train, which we will ride through the Seldja Gorge and canyons, including stops for hiking. Late afternoon visit to the magnificent Roman ruins at Sbeitla.
Day 8 – 10 – Hammamet
Proceed to Tunisia’s holiest city of Kairouan and one of the most important sites for Islamic pilgrimages in North Africa. The morning visit will be to Islamic sites in Kairouan, including the Great Mosque (entry is allowed for members of all faiths), the Aghlabid Basins, the Sidi Sahbi Mausoleum, and the Medina.
Day 11 – Tunis/Milan (AFTERNOON DEPARTURE)
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer by bus to the airport in Tunis and departure to Milan by Tunis Air flight.
TUNISIA TRAVEL NOTES
• Please dress in business formal clothing for the flight to Tunisia. We have two formal events that occur before we check into our first hotel. Men, it is absolutely appropriate to wear tie and jacket. Women, business formal. Gowns are not needed. Jeans and sneakers are not appropriate.
• The capital of Tunis is on the Mediterranean, and therefore temperatures are only slightly warmer than what would be in Bologna. As one moves further south in Tunisia, the temperature is gradually warmer. In the desert, temperatures can range from 40°F at night to 70°F during the day. Pack accordingly, always thinking in terms of “layers” (i.e., bring one sweater and one warm winter coat). Women should dress more conservatively. In the past, American female students have worn scarves as headdresses as a sign of respect for Tunisian culture. If you do not have one, you are able to find scarves for sale in markets.
• Weight restrictions on Tunis Air limit you to one checked bag of 20 kg (approximately 45 lbs) and one carry-on bag of 7 kg (approximately 15 lbs). If you are a shopper, remember to leave space for souvenirs. You are responsible for overweight luggage fees.
• The evening camping in the Sahara desert will likely be chilly. Pack wool socks, wool hat, gloves, and bring a sleeping bag if you have one. There will be an opportunity to purchase blankets in Tunisia if you do not have a sleeping bag. DRESS WARMLY.
• Bring a small backpack for day trips.
• Even when the weather is cool, being out in the sun, especially in southern Tunisia, can lead to sunburn and dehydration. Bring sunblock, a hat for sun protection, and remember to drink plenty of water to remain hydrated.
• Do not use the phones in the hotels. You will pay (and will be responsible for) extremely high rates for outside calls (whether local or international).
• BRING YOUR PASSPORT TO TUNISIA. However, when visiting markets, etc, you can leave your passport safely in your hotel room. Please bring a backup photo copy of your passport. (i.e., do not pack your passport in your luggage).
• Breakfast and dinner are covered by your trip fee. Coffee is always included with your breakfast, however, you will be required to pay for bottled water at meals.
• Spending Money: It will be hard to spend €100 if you are not buying souvenirs. If you are planning to buy souvenirs, obviously plan on spending more. The camel ride (€10) and your extracurricular drinks are paid for out of pocket. Lunch will cost on average €2 per day.
Participants are required to sign a waiver in which they agree to hold harmless the Spring Hill College Italy Center, The Spring Hill College and its Board of Trustees from any and all claims and causes of action for damage to or loss of property, personal illness or injury, or death arising out of travel or activity conducted while being enrolled at the Italy Center.
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