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LeBow undergraduate students and their professor at Familia Torres winery in Barcelona, Spain

A New Model for Study-Abroad Takes Global Classroom on the Road


April 30, 2024

Florence or Barcelona? Talk about a tough choice for studying abroad in Europe: Florence, in northern Italy, is home to classic art and architecture dating back to the Renaissance. Barcelona is in Catalonia, an autonomous region of Spain with a language and culture distinct from the rest of the country, and famed for its coastal beaches and nightlife. They’re separated by a roughly twelve-hour drive, mostly along the Mediterranean Sea, or by a two-hour flight.

Somehow, two groups of LeBow undergraduates picked between the two cities for an Intensive Course Abroad (ICA) held over spring break, and their separate experiences in each location are providing material for a spring term course.

The late March trips included a Global Classroom component, with virtual class sessions joining the two groups throughout the week, supplemented by the students, ranging from their first through fifth years, sharing thoughts and perspectives daily via WhatsApp communication. By uniting the two groups into a “dual” ICA, LeBow innovated its ICAs and extended its Global Classroom into an international off-campus excursion for the first time since the format’s launch in 2013.

LeBow faculty guiding the two trips were Chris Finnin, EdD, clinical professor of general business, and Eric Rios, assistant clinical professor of general business, in Italy, with Dana D’Angelo, MBA, clinical professor of general business, in Spain, joined by longtime Global Classroom partner Emilee Simmons, PhD, of Leeds Trinity University’s School of Business.

As D’Angelo noted, business is carried out by people and built upon the cultures of those people. As a veteran of nearly 30 ICAs during her time at Drexel, D’Angelo has made the importance of global business and culture experience a cornerstone of both her teaching and research.

“ICAs provide this opportunity for students to dip their feet into another culture and to connect in new ways with their peers,” she says.

Each program included professional site visits and speakers, cultural excursions and a service-learning project. Alex Levkulich, a second-year student co-majoring in finance and business analytics, felt especially impacted by the service-learning component of the Barcelona trip, in which students assisted the residents of a government-funded retirement home.

“I do a lot of volunteer work, but this was something new for me: I’d never pushed someone in a wheelchair before, and obviously there was a language barrier,” he said. “We talked with them, sang with them and gave them little gifts.”

Levkulich drew upon Spanish language knowledge from high school, although many Barcelona residents speak Catalan, and gifted some edible items from his hometown of Hershey, Pennsylvania.

LeBow undergraduate students and their professors in Florence, Italy
LeBow undergraduate students on a site visit to U-BOAT Italo Fontana, a luxury watchmaker based in Tuscany, with general manager and vice president of U-BOAT America Roberto Sacchi (pictured at center).

Megha Sindiri, a second-year finance major, had previously traveled in Europe and had even visited Florence once before, but she enjoyed the opportunity to explore the city in greater depth.

“We were staying just five minutes from the Duomo,” one of Florence’s major tourist attractions, she remarked. “It had a completely different feel, more like a residential neighborhood.”

Her class’s excursions took them even further from the city center, to a workshop for luxury watch brand U-BOAT Italo Fontana, a factory for an espresso machine manufacturer and a winery.

Sindiri and her classmates are carrying forward the experiences from their respective ICAs during spring term courses titled Thinking Abroad (BUSN 350): Exploring Business Culture in Spain and Exploring Business Culture in Italy. Students from each class that were paired during the trip are collaborating on a research project, to be presented as part of a May 22 poster session during Drexel’s annual Week of Undergraduate Excellence.

Getting to know their fellow LeBow students in an international setting continues to impact trip participants from both Spain and Italy.

“I know more people who I see around GHall every day,” Sindiri says. “I realized I can help out the first-years with their questions about co-ops, classes or professors.”

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Drexel LeBow Logo

Clinical Professor of General Business, LeBow College of Business

Headshot of Dana D'Angelo

Clinical Professor, General Business

Headshot of Eric Rios

Assistant Clinical Professor, General Business

Drexel LeBow Logo

Visiting Faculty, Leeds University Business School

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