Fall Break with JFRC!

Fall Break with JFRC!

For students at our Chicago campuses, Fall Break is a too-short four-day weekend made for sleeping in, taking time to explore the beautiful city, and, if you’re an out-of-state student like me, hanging out with all of the other students who live just a little too far to go home for a break.


But in Rome, it’s a full ten days of absolute freedom! Want to go to the Scottish Highlands for a week with no troubles or worries on the mind? You have that time! Want to just stay at a nearly-empty campus and relish all Rome has to offer? You can! Or you can city hop every day, crossing the borders of Europe at your choice and pleasure.

Or, you can go on a Study Trip, as we call them here at JFRC. There are typically two options, Greece and Poland, and for a set cost, all of your flights, hotels, and at least one meal a day is arranged for you. Plus, you travel with friends and can make new ones, as well as being led by faculty members that are so incredibly passionate about their countries.

Last week I went on the Greece trip, with 44 other students for a trip we’ll remember for the rest of our lives. Although my trip was covered by my Ricci scholarship, I believe the cost for it all was about 1300 euros to Loyola. Like I said, that amount covers hotel, flights, and meals, but also museum admissions, a ferry to Mykonos, and bus transport to places I just wouldn’t have been able to reach if I had gone on my own. Greece has so much to offer, but is also quite costly, and if I had gone on my own I would have probably just stayed in Athens, or on just one island, when there is so much more to see. The Poland trip is about half the cost, if I recall correctly, but it is only for about half of fall break, instead of the full time. However, this year they did get to participate in a Human Rights conference and meet Lech Walesa, an incredibly important person in history, not just for Poland but for the world.

Let me tell you a little about my trip!

We started out in Athens, and then visited some incredibly important sites for Greek history and mythology, and ended up on the beautiful island of Mykonos, famous for its beaches and clubs. Our guide was Dr. Ioanna Kopsiafti, a Greek historian, food critic, journalist, world-changer, sometimes-professor at JFRC, and all-around amazing person. She is a font of knowledge and stories, the sort of person who may tell you about the time she gave Bill Clinton a private tour of the Parthenon museum because she thought his current guide just wasn’t doing it justice, or the time she just walked to Istanbul from Athens. Dr. Sander Evers, JFRC’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and resident ancient Roman historian, accompanied her, as well as JC Cisneros, one of our Student Life Assistants, and between the three of them, the whole crowd was laughing until we split every night. I’d advise people thinking about taking this trip to do it for these people at the very least.

After Athens, we saw a whole host of places that had my jaw dropping. Greece is a beautiful country, and we went to Delphi, where the ancient oracle offered kings advise, and to Sparta, Corinth, Mycenae, Delos, where allegedly Artemis and Apollo were born, and climbed up and down a magnificent mountain with well-preserved ruins from the Byzantine Empire. We also had the wonderful privilege of spending half a day in Ioanna’s hometown, Karyas, where the famous Karyatids in the Acropolis came from. We were welcomed into that village of 300 people with open arms, even though we may have been the loudest thing to happen to that place every year. We had the opportunity to swim in the Aegean with a backdrop of mountains, to taste sea urchins and baklava, to watch the sun set from a hotel that doubled as a ski resort in the winter, to run races in arenas that used to crown legendary athletes, and to gaze at the stars from the prow of a ferry taking us from the mainland to Mykonos.

(Some foods I ate, with joy.)

It was truly magical. Sander and Ioanna have been doing this for ten years now, so they were well aware of our needs to just wander and have free time, what bars or restaurants to recommend, and have all in all just crafted the ideal student trip. It’s neither stuffy nor boring, and although it’s called a Study Trip overall the feeling was that we learned more about ourselves and Greek culture than any old dates or historical things that others (who are not history majors like me) may find absolutely dull.

If you want to experience Greece, not just visit Greece, you must take this trip over Fall Break if you get the opportunity to be here for the Fall semester. I couldn’t gush about it more. If you have questions, or even just want to see more pictures, ask me. I would be more than happy to tell you about this fantastic time.

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