Going to school for vacation
By Sarah Malek
A travel company has earned a credit in vacationing as they offer educational tour packages to university campuses around the world.
University Vacations offers week-long packages to campuses such as Harvard, Oxford or the University of Paris-Sorbonne where tourists can explore the campus, museums, local hot spots and other attractions.
Pam Top of University Vacations said the majority of the 350-400 participants are not students, but rather professionals looking to expand their horizons.
"There are limited spots so we don't really make much effort to attract more students," Top said.
The points of interest in each place are what the courses are based on with history, art and literature making up the majority of the lectures, Top said, adding the participants can custom design their itinerary.
Tour packages offered by the company range from $1,795 a week to $3,500 for 10 days, including two meals a day and hotel, but not airfare. Groups usually hold 11-15 participants with a maximum of 20 people and the tours take place from June through September, with some in March.
"We usually hire a student from each campus to hold tours, discuss life on campus, activities students participate in regularly and answer any questions about classes," Top explained.
Western has similar practices, said Susan Grindrod, director of housing and food services. "During the summer, Western rents out Alumni House much like a hotel."
Costs of $24 per student or $30 per adult for a night include bed and breakfast at the residence. "Western is a member of the Canadian University and College Conference Organizers which publishes a pamphlet each year of campuses that offer summer accommodation for people who are travelling around," Grindrod said, adding campus tours available during the summer allow those staying to see Western if they choose.
Second-year social science student Caroline Giles said she thought the travel package would be worthwhile. "I've already been to Europe so I know what you could see. If it wasn't for the price then maybe I would consider it."
"It sounds worthwhile and interesting, even though it is expensive," said Carrie Garbas, a second-year arts student.
University Vacations can be found at http://www.university-vacations.com/