Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources
Faithfully Catholic: A Student's Guide to Study Abroad - Sam Phillips

Faithfully Catholic: A Student’s Guide to Study Abroad


Must you attend a large, secular university to study abroad? Samuel Phillips, Christendom College’s Admissions Director, dispels a popular myth.

People often make the mistake of thinking that in order to study abroad, expand their worldview, and have a wide range of experiences in college, they must attend a large, secular university.

This misconception that one must attend Behemoth U. to have better opportunities can lead students to think they must surrender academic quality to gain exciting study abroad options.

Fortunately, there’s good news.

Students don’t have to settle for an inferior education or miss out on a solid Catholic education to see the world. Christendom College provides students with both an exceptionally rigorous academic curriculum as well as ample opportunities to travel across the globe, experiencing different cultures while in the company of friends.

Faithfully Catholic: A Student's Guide to Study Abroad - Sam Phillips

Whether it’s a week in South America, a summer in Ireland, or a semester in Rome, Christendom’s international opportunities give students the experience and education of a lifetime, broadening their horizons by immersing them in different cultures and connecting them to their own Western patrimony.

Christendom’s semester-long Rome program is the study abroad experience for which it is known. No other college gives students closer or more intimate access to the riches of Rome.

Since students live right in the heart of the Eternal City for three months, they become completely immersed in the culture and thus learn about the area—its traditions and inhabitants— to a deep and personal extent.

Their residences for the semester are located in a quaint area of Rome, where they gain a true taste of day-to-day Italy by living amongst the markets, cafès, and shops outside of the typical areas catered to tourists.

Most remarkable is the location of our classrooms. Every day, students walk in front of St. Peter’s Basilica to take Christendom’s courses at the Instituto Maria SS Bambina, a convent situated directly next to St. Peter’s Square.

Students can step out to listen to the weekly Wednesday Papal audience from the convent balcony that overlooks St. Peter’s Square. If you’re looking to experience Rome and the Vatican firsthand, it’s nearly impossible to beat this classroom setting.


Cdom 2015-09 'Dr Clark Sons' Inpost

Christendom does everything possible to make this program available to all of its students in their junior year. The academics are structured so that any student, regardless of his or her major, can enjoy the experience without worrying about falling behind academically.

In addition to being immersed in Roman culture, most students take advantage of the ease of European travel and use their free weekends to visit places of spiritual or historical significance.

Though the college includes trips to Assisi, Florence, and Sienna as part of the program, extended free weekends are also incorporated so students itching to see more of the continent can explore. Popular destination choices include Poland, France, Germany, Ireland, and Sicily.

The program’s flexibility and affordable cost has made the option to study in Rome for a semester widely popular, with 80% of the student body taking advantage of the opportunity. In fact, according to the senior exit surveys the college conducts each year, most graduating seniors rate the Rome semester as their favorite Christendom experience.

Rome is not Christendom’s only European campus however. Those interested in becoming better equipped as evangelists, who are empowered to bring Christ’s message to the secular world, while being immersed in the lush beauty of Ireland, can attend the St. Columcille Institute. This Institute is a three week program that takes place during the summer at Christendom’s campus in Donegal, Ireland.

Faithfully Catholic: A Student's Guide to Study Abroad - Sam Phillips

Through this program, students earn six college credits while studying Ireland’s rich history. Studying this history alongside classes in literature and communication gives participants a firm foundation to draw upon when evangelizing in everyday situations.

They also have the amazing privilege of learning about communication from Seàn-Patrick Lovett, the English Program Director for Vatican Radio, who has decades of experience teaching evangelization communication skills around the world. Christendom always seeks to provide students with the best of the best, in every aspect of their educational experience.

During the St. Columcille Institute, college president Dr. Timothy O’Donnell, esteemed author and frequent guest on EWTN Radio, personally goes above and beyond to give students outstanding experiences and memories to carry with them long after the summer ends.

Not only does he teach the apologetical Theology class, but he also acts as host throughout the three weeks, staying with the students during each phase of the journey and sharing with them his passion for his Irish heritage.

His generosity combined with the overall excellence of the classes and experiences has made this program one which participants consider life-changing. Though current Christendom students often choose to attend the Institute, it is open to all college-aged students and has an incredibly low, all-inclusive cost.

Outside of studying at Christendom’s two campuses abroad in Europe, students also have the opportunity to serve as missionaries in South America through the Mission Trip Program hosted by one of the college’s philosophy professors.

This past spring, students went to the Dominican Republic, Peru, and Guatemala, where they did everything from intense manual labor to patiently caring for impoverished children in the name of Christ.

Though the trips are always focused on the mission work, the students who participate are able to witness the difference in living conditions and lifestyles in other countries, which cultivates a renewed sense of gratitude for all of the conveniences Americans take for granted.

They are also able to form connections with the people they serve, encountering brothers and sisters in Christ and sharing the beautiful faith connection of the universal Catholic Church, or reaching out to those who have not yet heard or embraced the Good News.

These mission trips highlight the Christendom community’s exceptional spirit of service. The students all raise their own money to fund their mission trips.

Furthermore, because these trips always take place during Spring Break, participants give up going home to rest and visit family to selflessly serve those in need. In the past, 30% of our students have chosen to attend, and many who go return with such compassion and love for those they helped that they choose to go again the following year.

Through these various outlets, students are able to broaden their horizons by immersing themselves in different cultures and serving in different communities, while returning to spend most of their time thriving at Christendom’s beautiful Virginia campus.

Each of these international opportunities remains centered around the Catholic faith and seeks to expand students’ knowledge while providing them meaningful, dynamic experiences during which their liberal arts education comes to life by making everything they see hold added meaning or significance.

Choosing to attend Christendom is not a decision to forgo study abroad opportunities, but rather an invitation to do so with the connections to deepen the experience, the friends to augment it, and the faith to elevate it.

No other study abroad program will touch your life as deeply as ours.

Dare to join us. Dare to be great.

Header photo CC: Christendom College

About Sam Phillips

Sam Phillips
Sam Phillips, a former high school teacher and administrator who was homeschooled prior to attending Christendom College, is the Director of Admissions at Christendom College, where he works personally with families to help them understand the benefits of Christendom’s Catholic liberal arts education. He and his wife, Katie, have three children (with another due in December) whom they homeschool.

About Contributing Writers

A wide range of authors from priests, educators, parents and students bring insight and inspiration for the homeschooling journey. We would love to hear from you! To submit your story for consideration, visit Submissions. Learn More
Learn about Homeschooling with Seton
School Pre-K through 12 at home. A quality, Catholic education. Online learning. Accredited and affordable.
Request your Free Info Pack

Pin It on Pinterest