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Q&A: Dr. Batia Cohen

Since 1990, Forum-Nexus has provided one-of-a-kind study abroad programs for 27 years to over 3,300 students and counting. Our team of faculty and staff is made up of internationally diverse, successful individuals who are all equally passionate about travel and education. For the next few months, we’ll be sharing Q&As with those who lead the FN team year-round.

We chatted with Dr. Batia Cohen, professor of European Art and Architecture, to hear her take on the importance of international education. Get to know our wise and worldly faculty member, and learn how she enriches the FN team… #ThisisForumNexus

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Q: Tell us about your background. Which cities and countries have you lived in? Where did you study?

BC: I was born in Mexico City. I studied graphic design at the Metropolitan University in Mexico City. Later on I specialized in art history and got a PhD from the National University of Mexico (UNAM).

17 years ago I moved to Miami with my husband Rafael, where we raised our three daughters.

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Courtesy of Batia Cohen

Q: What languages do you speak?

BC: I speak four languages: English, Spanish, French, and Hebrew.

Q: What courses do you teach for Forum-Nexus during the summer?

BC: During the summer I teach European Art and Architecture. I also serve as the advisor of Independent Studies and Internships.

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Q: What are your academic and professional activities during the fall and spring?

BC: During the fall and spring I teach art history courses in the Miami area at several institutions, including the University of Miami and Florida International University.

Q: What do you find special about Forum-Nexus? About FN students?

BC: Forum-Nexus is a great study abroad program where students can experience 9 exciting European cities while earning college credits. They learn first-hand about the different countries, cultures, and traditions, and about impressive art and architecture. While traveling with Forum-Nexus, students develop very close relationships with each other and with the professors. We all become a close family as we share exciting experiences while traveling.

Q: How does participating in FN help students with their future careers?

BC: Students who participate in FN  acquire a broader perspective on Europe and the world. They become more tolerant and open minded towards cultural differences. This will make them better prepared to tackle similar issues in their professional careers. They become more comfortable engaging with different cultures, adapting to their customs, and more willing to understand and empathize with different points of view.

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Q: Why are cultural and professional visits important for FN students?

BC: The cultural and professional visits enrich the overall experience of the students. The European institutions that open their doors to FN are world-class, and the students get to meet successful and influential leaders.

Q: What is special about Europe? Why is knowledge of Europe important?

BC: First of all, Europe is beautiful! The big cities, the little medieval towns, the countryside – they are all amazing. Furthermore, European countries have played such a prominent role in the history of ideas and in the development of western culture. Each country has a rich and proud history and tradition. It’s very important for an educated person to be familiar with it.

Q: Which are your favorite cities on the FN itinerary and why?

BC: One of my favorite cities is Barcelona because it has the best examples of 19th century architecture. By exploring its wide avenues we find ourselves submerged in the Modernismo era. The works of the famous architect Antoní Gaudí stand out, and the intricate decorations of the facades and structures capture my admiration every time. But I also love Barcelona for its overall atmosphere: the mountains, beaches, energy, and young vibe!

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Q: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned from traveling?

BC: Be prepared for the unexpected. Enjoy every minute of it!

For more information on our upcoming programs, visit www.forum-nexus.com. Be sure to also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and check out our blog and YouTube channel.

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Destination 5: This is Milan!

There’s a real beauty and privilege when it comes to multi-country study abroad program. You get a little taste of each region, immersion in some of the most iconic cities, paired with getaways to gems found off the beaten path. It’s the best of both worlds, study abroad and world travel. To say the least, you don’t want to miss out on our summer abroad.

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After a six day stay in the heart of France, a high-speed train will usher our group into the enchanting country of Italy, known best for its scenic cities, friendly citizens, and world-class cuisine. Italia is nothing short of an enriching international experience. Our first stop brings us to the capital of fashion, business, and finance. This is Milan, Italy!

Best known for the Duomo di Milano, the keeper of da Vinci The Last Supper, and a central location for high-end luxury brands, the city of Milan is everything you’ve ever dreamt it to be and more. Think Gothic cathedrals, alluring architecture, art, bustling city life, and endless shops. And don’t forget about the incredible food! Students are encouraged to spend their time soaking up the rich art history, museum gazing, or shopping at famous stores – Prada, Versace, or Moschino, anyone?

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Go ahead, watch a little preview of Italy the Forum-Nexus way on our YouTube channel.

During our 5 day stay in Milan, students will attend classes held at the historic campus of the Universita Cattolica, housed in a 14th century monastery. For weekend activities, Milan serves as a great travel hub to catch a train to popular nearby destinations such as Cinque Terre, Venice, Florence, and so on. Students can opt for a Forum-Nexus organized day trip, take a weekend excursion with their peers, or kick it in Milan. It’s hard to go wrong in Italy.

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Get that camera ready, brush up on Italian history, and save a few extra Euros for incredible shopping.

Follow along on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to learn more about this iconic city and our summer 2017 program.

Milano awaits you!

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Q&A: Gabriella Gasparich

Since 1990, Forum-Nexus has provided one-of-a-kind study abroad programs for 27 years to over 3,300 students and counting. Our team of faculty and staff is made up of internationally diverse, successful individuals who are all equally passionate about travel and education. For the next few months, we’ll be sharing Q&As with those who lead the FN team year-round.

We asked veteran Admissions Counselor Gabriella Gasparich to share how studying abroad has impacted her life, what she does in her role with Forum-Nexus, and what’s next for this frequent jetsetter. Here’s what you should know about our valued team member… #ThisisForumNexus!

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Q: Tell us about your background. In what cities and countries have you lived? Where did you study?

GG:  I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, and have lived, studied, and worked in the Pittsburgh area all of my life so far. While at Robert Morris University, I studied abroad with Forum-Nexus in 7 European cities throughout 1 month in the summertime. I also had the opportunity to participate in a trip to Nicaragua while in college.

Q: How many times have you participated in FN programs?

GG: I’ve physically traveled with Forum-Nexus three times, but this is my sixth year working as a staff member! In the summer of 2012 I participated in my first FN trip as a student and an intern.

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Q: What are your responsibilities as a FN staff member?

GG: I am an Admissions Counselor, working as a resource for students who are interested in the program and guiding them throughout the process as they apply and decide to join the program. I also oversee marketing and communication efforts, as well as general program operations.

Q: What languages do you speak?

GG: English is my first language, and I am proficient in Spanish.

Q: What do you find special about Forum-Nexus? About FN students?

GG: Forum-Nexus has so much positive energy! As an organization we are always striving to deliver the best experience, and our students really are incredible young men and women from all over the world. We call ourselves the “Forum-Nexus Family” because by the end of the program, everyone does feel like family, when at the start they were complete strangers. It’s a special experience to spend about a month traveling, exploring, and learning with students your age.

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Courtesy of Gabriella Gasparich

Q: How does participating in FN help students with their future careers?

GG: In my opinion, participating in a study abroad experience is becoming more and more critical to a student’s college experience, as well as to what employers are looking for. There are so many organizations that operate different offices around the world, and employ people of different backgrounds and nationalities. Those organizations are looking for people who have cross-cultural communication skills, travel experience, and a proficient level of International IQ – these are all things that students can obtain by participating in a Forum-Nexus program!

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Q: Why are professional visits important for FN students?

GG:  While it is totally awesome to get an inside look at major businesses and organizations in Europe, I think the main value of professional visits is the insight into how the organizations operate, what their communication styles are, how employees grow and evolve, and what the organization does to evolve the field that it is in. This insight is not available through a regular tour.

 Q: Which are your favorite cities in the FN itinerary and why?

GG: This is a tough question! Each city is beautiful and wonderful in its own way. If I had to pick, I would say that my top two favorite stops on the FN itinerary are Barcelona and Rhodes – the first and last stops! Barcelona is buzzing with culture, language, innovation, and energy. It’s a great place to kick off the program and provides students with the opportunity to experience major European plazas, architectural marvels, and exciting cuisine. On the other hand, Rhodes is special because it is an absolutely incredible island, the people are friendly and happy, and it’s charming and historic. Here students will reflect on everything they have learned and experienced thus far, relax and unwind at the beach, and celebrate the conclusion of the program together.

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Courtesy of Gabriella Gasparich

Q: What is your favorite activity you did as a FN student?

GG:  One of my favorite activities I did during my first experience with Forum-Nexus was a day trip to Cinque Terre in Italy. The views are what you see in magazines! The experience of hiking, swimming, eating, and exploring each of the five villages made for such a perfect day. Lucky for FN students in 2017, we’re taking an optional FN day trip to Cinque Terre! I highly recommend it – it’s one of the things you will want to check off of your bucket list!

Q: What is your advice to future FN students on how to benefit the most from their study abroad experience?

GG:  My advice to future FN students is to approach every situation, conversation, and experience with an open mind. You will interact with people, places, cultures, and behaviors that are different than yours, but you have the opportunity to learn and explore during this time in your life. Take advantage of it! You are a collective of your experiences, and FN is sure to give you plenty of new experiences that will shape who you are and how you evolve as a person. Take the leap! You won’t regret it.

Q: How many countries have you traveled to?

GG: So far, I have traveled to 14 different countries.

Q: Where do you want to travel to next?

GG: I am getting married soon, and for my honeymoon my fiancé and I want to visit some of the countries that our ancestors have come from! We’re planning to travel to Wales, Croatia, and Italy. I am excited to travel to countries and cities that I have never been to before!

For more information on our upcoming programs, visit www.forum-nexus.com. Be sure to also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and check out our blog and YouTube channel.

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Q&A: Dr. Hugo Hervitz

Since 1990, Forum-Nexus has provided one-of-a-kind study abroad programs for 27 years to over 3,300 students and counting. Our team of faculty and staff is made up of internationally diverse, successful individuals who are all equally passionate about travel and education. For the next few months, we’ll be sharing Q&As with those who lead the FN team year-round.

We sat down with Program Director Dr. Hugo Hervitz, founder of Forum-Nexus Study Abroad, to ask him everything from what inspired him to start a multi-country study abroad program to where he wants to travel to next. Here’s what you should know about him… #thisisForumNexus

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Q: Tell us about your background. In what cities and countries have you lived? Where did you study?

HH: I was born in Argentina and I have lived in Europe, the Middle East, and the U.S. I have a Master’s degree in Management from Imperial College in London, another Master’s degree in Economics and Latin American Studies from the University of Pittsburgh, and a PhD in Economics from Indiana University. I have been a professor of Economics and International Business in Miami for many years. My wife is a clinical psychologist. We have three children who live in New York and Chicago.

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Q: What languages do you speak?

HH: I speak 10 languages. Five fluently, two at an intermediate level, and I have basic knowledge of three more. Spanish is my native language. I use it quite a bit with family and friends, and when we are in Barcelona during Forum-Nexus. Our three children are US-born but we made a point of speaking to them in Spanish, so now they are fluent. When I lived inJerusalem I learned Hebrew and Arabic. I have traveled extensively in Europe and I learned French, Italian, and German. I love Brazil and I learned Portuguese, which is quite easy for Spanish speakers. In recent years I’ve acquired a basic knowledge of Russian and Greek. I am now in the early stages of learning Mandarin Chinese in preparation for a new Forum-Nexus program in China, scheduled for Summer 2018. I love learning languages. Speaking other languages makes it so much easier to understand other cultures. It’s fun and it’s not hard. You just need the motivation! You can always find time in your schedule if you decide that learning a new language is an important priority.

 Q: What are your academic and professional activities during the fall and spring?

HH: I direct and coordinate the year-long work of the Forum-Nexus staff, involving the work of admission counselors, our social media team, contacts with the universities, processing of transcripts, addition of new courses and new professors, contacting companies for professional visits, addition of new cities and hotels, etc. I am also an Adjunct Professor of Economics at the Huizenga College of Business at Nova Southeastern University.

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 Q: Why did you start Forum-Nexus?

HH: Twenty-seven years ago, in the early days of globalization and soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a lot of things were happening in the world, especially in Europe. The international business course I was teaching in Miami required students to understand how countries differ in their economic, political, and cultural environments. I realized that I can impart quite a bit of knowledge through lectures and class discussions on campus, but learning can be more real, more intense, more personal, and more profound if it’s experiential; that is, if I can bring the students to the countries being studied and let them experience the local culture, observe the local economy first-hand, visit local companies and international organizations, talk to government officials and business leaders, talk to local students, interact with local waiters and taxi drivers, and understand the locals’ pride in their history and culture. I realized that being there was not just a better way for the students to acquire a more sophisticated level of knowledge, but also a way for the students to be more emotionally engaged with the new culture, to have more understanding, more empathy towards cultural differences. So, I decided to start a yearly summer program that would include 3-credit international courses taught on-site in various attractive European cities.

Q: Describe your role during the Forum-Nexus summer program.

HH: During the 5 weeks of the program in Europe my main responsibilities are:

-Being the program director, making sure that everything runs smoothly and ensuring that everybody has an amazing experience

-Teaching the International IQ Seminar, which is a course that all FN students take. The idea is to raise everyone’s level of International IQ by providing the essential knowledge that they should have about European history, geography, current events, art, culture, etc. It’s a very popular course, and my teaching style is to cover the material in a fun and informal way.

-Lastly, and most importantly (!), I am responsible for making sure that there is a lot of happy music (and dancing) everywhere we go :)  - in particular on the bus rides and train rides. I have to maintain my reputation as…DJ HUGO!

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 Q: What sets FN apart from other programs?

HH: There are a number of elements that combine to make Forum-Nexus programs quite unique:

-Instead of staying the whole month in a single city, the program is multi-country, allowing the students to be exposed to the culture and environment of several countries in one summer.

-There is a very close and warm relationship between the professors and the students, on and off class time. The professors are very experienced and come from different countries, and travel together with the students from country to country.

-The program includes numerous visits to European companies and international organizations. These are activities that you don’t get to do as a tourist. You learn a lot by interacting with business leaders and government officials.

-The participating students come from several countries, so there is a lot of learning that takes place by developing close friendships with young, intelligent, and cool people who live and study in totally different environments.

-The style of the program/the vibe of the program is relaxed and friendly. We are like family. We travel together through the best cities in Europe, learning a lot, while having a great time!

 Q: What do you find special about FN students?

HH: FN students are an amazing group of warm, bright, and ambitious young people who want to learn about the world, encounter new cultures, make new friends, acquire state-of-the-art knowledge and skills, acquire foreign language skills, and who realize that international knowledge and experience are becoming essential for successful careers in most fields.

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 Q: What do you find special about Europe?

HH: Europe is an enchanting continent. So much history, so many beautiful cities, towns, cathedrals, and landscapes within really short distances. And, above all, so much cultural diversity. Europe is an amazing laboratory for learning and understanding how societies cooperate and prosper, how Europe has been the birthplace of so many brilliant ideas, discoveries, and works of art, but also, a critical look at European history offers plenty of cautionary notes about how countries and empires fall apart as a result of political or economic mistakes.

 Q: Why is knowledge of Europe important?

HH: We are experiencing many winds of change in the international arena. China and Asia are emerging as stronger economic and political players, and both the US and the European Union are undergoing important political transformations that may determine new directions for the future. This is a crucial period for understanding the achievements and failures of the European Union and understanding the changes that are likely to occur in the next few years and being ready for them.

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 Q: How does participating in FN help students with their future careers?

HH: Employers are looking for individuals who are competent in their field of expertise (say finance, marketing, communication) but who also have street smarts, knowledge about the real world, experience traveling, ability to deal with cultural differences, and flexibility in coping with new situations. All of these skills are honed at Forum-Nexus. FN alumni tell us all the time how often during job interviews the interviewers are impressed by the student having personal experience visiting important European companies and international organizations. These kind of experiences certainly strengthen their resumes.

 Q: Which are your favorite cities in the FN itinerary and why?

HH: Each city in the itinerary has something special, something unique. I really love them all! Barcelona is an incredibly vibrant city — the people, the architecture, the beaches, the mountains, the food, the nightlife. The beauty of Paris is incredible. The river and its bridges are so picturesque and romantic. I love the French language and listening to accordion music on a sidewalk café. So many beautiful monuments and museums. I am also crazy about Italian cities. The warmth of the people, the musicality of the language, the colors of the cities, being surrounded by history everywhere, the fact that the pizza and the pasta are so good and affordable! Greece is culturally like an extension of Italy, in that the people are warm, emotional, and love music and dancing, with the addition of the beautiful Greek island landscapes, with blue seas everywhere, plus so much history around. In the middle of the program we spend several days in the mountain resort of Chamonix, which is very close to being in paradise! A small and pretty town, with lots of flowers, surrounded by snowy mountains and forests, waterfalls, and lakes.

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 Q: What is your advice to FN students about how to benefit the most from their experience?

HH: I tell the students to do some homework before the start of the program by reading about each city, its history, its culture, and the main attractions to visit, in order to be better prepared to make optimal use of their time. Also, I encourage them to take advantage of the program for improving their language skills: improve their Spanish, learn the basics of French and Italian, learn the Greek alphabet, etc. But above all, my advice is to start the program with an open mind about other societies and other cultures. The name of the game is not to decide who is better, but rather to celebrate the beauty of diversity and cultural differences.

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For more information on our upcoming programs, visit www.forum-nexus.com. Be sure to also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and check out our blog and YouTube channel.

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A Weekend in Paris

While every city that we visited this month was incredible in its own way, my favorite city was Paris, France. My best friend Julia and I decided at the last minute to book a weekend trip to this magical city with a group of students who we had met the week before. To start, it was so wonderful to meet so many amazing students who quickly convinced us that the Paris weekend trip was a must. Soon after, we had our flights booked as well as a (surprisingly cheap) hotel room in a historic Parisian hotel.

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Photo courtesy of Allie M.

Following Friday class in Chamonix, our group piled into a van and made the trek from Chamonix to the Geneva airport in Switzerland. After an easy one hour flight from Geneva we arrived in the beautiful city of Paris, and it is safe to say that it was love at first sight. Further, my first impression of Paris was pure awe. As an iconic location that I have seen in pictures and movies for my entire life, it was truly a dream to be standing in the middle of it all. I soon realized that Paris is by no means overrated, but rather upholds a beauty and romance that cannot be portrayed in pictures or even described in words. More specifically, when walking through the streets, almost every building holds its own history, with monuments left and right. I also found that, in general, the city felt very clean, safe, and romantic. In addition to seeing many of the most famous monuments including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Tuileries, I enjoyed some of the best meals of my life! For two and a half days I maintained a steady diet of croissants, macaroons, steak and frites, baguettes, cheese, and of course, the occasional French wine pairing. Specifically, our typical French breakfast at the world-famous Laduree was one of the best meals of the trip!

To add to this wonderful experience, Julia and I met up with our friend from our university at home who was studying abroad in Paris for a whole year. This was a great touch to our perfect weekend as we had our own personal tour guide to bring us to locations not frequented by tourists. This part of our trip really helped us get the flavor of the city through the eye of a local while seeing as much as we could in a short period of time.

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Photo courtesy of Allie M.

In this experience, I was pleasantly surprised to break some common stereotypes or misconceptions about the city. More specifically, while many warned me that Parisians dislike Americans and can be very rude, my experience actually proved the opposite. In my short trip, I met many friendly locals who were more than welcoming and willing to give recommendations and or directions.

Overall, my weekend in Paris was a wonderful experience that I would recommend to anyone taking this program in the future. In one short weekend I would recommend a picnic at the Eiffel Tower (with meats and cheeses from a local market), a walk through the Louvre, walking around the beautiful streets of Champs Elysee, taking a boat tour on the Seine river, and finally getting lost in the indescribable city with new friends!

By:  Alexandra M., Forum-Nexus 2016 Alumna

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Photo courtesy of Allie M.

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Destination 4: This is Paris!

Next, we’re sharing all about the fourth destination on the Forum Europe Summer 2017 itinerary and one of the most iconic cities in Europe… 12045794_10153086113137633_1622570489038539032_o

There’s a reason why Paris, France is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world; it’s everything good you’ve ever heard and more. Paris is the pulsing heart of French culture, politics, and business. The architecture, beauty, food, and glitz effortlessly captures the admiration of each visitor. To say the least, a real European excursion isn’t complete without a stop in the city of love.

So what’s a week in Paris like with Forum-Nexus? Read past accounts from our own alumni.

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Paris can cater to the desires of any traveler; there’s great shopping, art, museums, attractions, nightlife, food, and activities. While staying in the city of love, students will be able to stroll along the Seine river, visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, say hello to Mona Lisa at the Louvre, and snap a picture of the Eiffel Tower, of course! Paris is home to several influential companies and international organizations, as well. Students will have the opportunity to participate in professional visits to places such as Le Cordon Bleu, OECD, and UNESCO. And don’t forget about classes, which will be held on the campus of the American Business School in Paris. On the weekend, students can participate in an optional Forum-Nexus day trip to the famous castles of the Loire Valley, or take an independent excursion to Amsterdam or London.

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Follow along on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to learn more about this beloved city and our Summer 2017 program.

Like they say, Paris is always a good idea!

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Destination 3: This is Geneva!

The third destination on the Forum Europe Summer 2017 itinerary is a sweet, day-long stop in the breathtaking city of Geneva, Switzerland.

Piercing blue skies, a beautiful lakeside, rolling hills, and mountains adorn the cosmopolitan city of Geneva. Best known as the European headquarters for the United Nations, this Swiss city also offers luxury shopping, famous watch brands, world-renowned chocolate, and more!

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The day trip to Geneva will be split into two parts: A professional visit the United Nations headquarters and city exploration. Upon arrival to the UN, students will get the unique opportunity to participate in a guided tour of the Palais des Nations. Highlights may include seeing the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room, The Council Chamber, Salle des Pas Perdus, art from around the world, a recap of the current activities, and more! The best part? Cameras are welcome! After the professional visit concludes, students will get free time to explore the Geneva at their leisure. Walk the lakeside, buy some chocolate, eat at a cafe – there is plenty to do, see, and learn!

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Take a glimpse of last summer’s visit to Switzerland here.

Geneva will serve as a middle point of transition from Chamonix to Paris. This dely memorable.

This week on the blog, we’ll share what Forum-Nexus alumni have to say about their time exploring the city of Geneva and experiencing the United Nations.

Follow along on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to learn more about this one-of-a-kind city and our Summer 2017 program.

Geneva awaits YOU!

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