Empires: Foundations of the Western World Trimester Study Abroad Program

Overview | Courses | Itinerary | Calendar | Map | Program Fee



Why Spend a Trimester Abroad With MEI?

Understanding the world we live in has never been more important than in this day of globalization and cultural dynamism. For over two decades, MEI has led programs that engage students in a manner rarely matched: excellent instructors, excellent students, and excellent locations allow for some of the deepest understanding of our world students will experience in their lives. Through some of the most innovative and dynamic methods of instruction, MEI students embark on a journey that helps prepare them for their post-secondary lives where critical thought, analysis, and interpretation are crucial to success. Certified instructors, program-specific itineraries, and a long-history of safe, tailored travel, make a Trimester with MEI an excellent way to complete three senior level, university preparation courses.

Courses Offered

Classical Civilization – Grade 12

This course allows students to explore the beliefs and achievements of the classical world, which have shaped Western thought and civilization. Students will investigate such aspects of classical culture through its mythology, art, literature and philosophy. They will also delve into elements of ancient Greek and Latin through a variety of activities such as dramatizations, audio-visual presentations, and discussions. Students will enhance their communication skills and their ability to think critically and creatively.

This program is available to students who have completed Grade 10 English

English – Grade 12

The core English course focuses on the refinement of literacy, communication and analytical skills. Students build on their understanding of academic language and practice using it confidently in discussion and argumentation, in both oral and written forms.

Students can substitute Studies in Literature – Grade 12

Media—Students choose ONE

Media Production: Interdisciplinary Studies—Grade 12
The focus of this program is on providing students with hands-on experience in photography, video production, investigative journalism, and media analysis. In order to get to the heart of a story and deliver it in a dynamic way, students develop the ability to effectively communicate using three of the most important communication mediums: the use of images, video and language.

Media Arts—Grade 12
Students will develop works that express their views on contemporary issues and will create portfolios suitable for use in either career or postsecondary education applications. Students will critically analyze the role of media artists in shaping audience perceptions of identity, culture and community values.

Program Itinerary

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Travel Overview

Prep Session 1: Early August, 2017
Prep Session 2: Late August, 2017
Travel Dates: September 13–November 2, 2017

Flight and hotel details are available on individual program sites, available to registered students and their parents.

Preparation and Course Work

In order to ease into the program, students have access to the course website where reading lists will be posted. Course preparation is spread out over three weeks: our first week of preparation begins in mid-August, focusing on novel studies; the second two-week session begins in late August, focusing on completing small assignments. These online sessions are designed to connect students with their teachers and classmates, to help complete short tasks and to alleviate the workload during the trip. Students are required to complete all foundation work prior to leaving to ensure they are ready to hit the ground running while overseas.

Departure From Toronto (Day 1)

Our North American departure hub is Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. Five hours prior to our departure, a short meeting will be held at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel, Terminal 3, to distribute course packs and maps and to clarify travel procedures. All students are responsible for making their own travel arrangements to the Sheraton Gateway Hotel. Students making alternate arrangements must contact MEI before May 31.

Santorini (Day 2–7)

We begin our journey sailing under the stars that guided Odysseus, crossing the Aegean to the volcanic island of Santorini, once believed to be legendary Atlantis. Here, students delve into an investigation of the origins of Western civilization and myth, exploring the formation of our collective understanding of self and culture. Homer’s epic tales of Achilles and Odysseus form the keystone of our literary studies of both classical and contemporary texts. Home to some of the most spectacular views in the world, a student inquiry into Plato's question of beauty is also most relevant here, discussed over fresh calamari and tzatziki. We finish our stay with an epic hike along the caldera from Oia, ending with an unforgettable sunset in our cliff-side home of Fira.

Mykonos (Day 8–13)

Along the picturesque Platis Gialos beach on the island of Mykonos, students continue their focus on academic writing and development of a deeper analysis of our core texts for English. Masterclasses in essay writing and small group book chats in bustling cafés scattered throughout the town of Chora enable students to look more critically at the writing of our ancient and modern writers, while improving their own ability to work at the university level. Students have fun finding their way back to their favorite gyros stops, as their senses are dazzled by the maze of narrow streets walled with whitewashed shops and blue colored doors and balconies with vibrant pink bougainvilleas draped above their heads. At night, Mykonos comes alive as local boutiques, frozen Greek yogurt hangouts, and bakeries stay open until the early hours of the morning, making the evening the perfect time to shop and explore before room check.

Athens and The Peloponnese (Day 14–25)

Sailing to the Greek mainland, students enter the country’s capital: arguably the epicenter of Western democracy, philosophy, art, architecture, and history, it is easy to see why this was Athena’s cherished home. Classrooms are easy to find, from amphitheater steps, to the shade of the ancient Agora. Leaving Athen’s behind, we head southwest to the tiny fishing village of Tolo, home to crystal blue waters and perfectly situated near some of the most important archaeological sites in all of Greece. We consider Homer’s Iliad and Agamemnon’s return home after ten years of war to face the tragic consequences of his choices as we venture through the fortress city of Ancient Mycenae. Traveling even further west, we reach our final destination in Greece - Olympia - where students have the unique opportunity to lace up and run the stadium’s track, while debating the better temple: that of Zeus or of Hera.

Sorrento (Day 26–31)

One of Italy’s best destinations, this small cliffside town, once believed to be home to the Sirens of Homer’s Odyssey, affords us wonderful views of the azure sea and quick access to two of Italy’s most compelling sites: Pompeii and Capri. Students begin their investigation into the Roman world by looking at one of its darkest, and most romanticized disasters: the explosion of Mount Vesuvius in 79 that buried the town, and the people, of Pompeii in volcanic ash. A day trip across to Capri also allows us to swim in the spectacular grottoes that line its coast, and climb to the unsurpassed palaces of the Roman emperors that site high atop this beautiful island’s cliffs.

Rome (Day 32–40)

Once again, we tread the footsteps of the ancients as we follow the journey of Aeneas, one of the few survivors of the tragic sack of Troy, to the glorious city of Rome. After our restful nights in the south, students now find themselves in the 'Eternal City' where they witness the physical and literal layers of Rome's history - all intermixed with high fashion, luxury cars, an unparalleled passion for soccer, and if we are lucky, a selfie with Pope Francis! Studying the art and architecture of the Roman Empire, students consider the complexity and interconnectedness of history, culture, philosophical thought, and modernity. Whether writing morning notes on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica, performing Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in the Forum, or sampling the world's best gelato at the Trevi Fountain, in Rome, students witness the ghosts of history come alive.

Tuscany (Day 41–46)

Making our way north of Rome, students find themselves in the rolling hills of Tuscany, home to Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Raphael, Machiavelli, and some of the best food on the planet. We continue our exploration of the Roman world by looking at the role of women, the lower class, and the impact of emperors, both good and bad, on the expansion of the Empire. Ancient Etruscan tombs provide a sense of just how long and influential the Roman world has been on modern society, while we are afforded another opportunity to truly focus our energies on literature and our media course. Day trips to the famous hill towns of Pitigliano, Montepulciano, and a home base in Borgo San Luigi, make this the perfect place to begin completion of our final assignments and exams before heading to our last stop.

Florence (Day 47–50)

Birthplace of the Renaissance, the Medici, Pinocchio, banking, and some of the world’s most beautiful architecture, Florence is the perfect city for students to conclude their studies overseas. While interspersing our days with visits to the Uffizi, il Duomo, and the Accademia—home to Michelangelo’s David—students enjoy afternoons exploring leather shops and one of the world’s largest food markets before food evenings spent in quaint restaurants to reflect on their journey while piecing together an evolving personal narrative of their place in the world. After a final masquerade for Halloween together in this wonderful city, we board our return flight home as renewed, confident, and empowered citizens of the world.


Travel dates subject to change.



Program Fee

All prices include international student fees.

Program Fee Includes

  • Ministry-approved credit(s) upon successful completion of the course(s)
  • Custom course pack
  • Student Login
  • MEI journal
  • Digital yearbook


  • Hotels and accommodations
  • Breakfast and dinner daily
  • Entrance fees to all course-specific sites
  • Return airfare from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport
  • Transportation between hotel locations via private coach or ferry
  • Transportation for all listed program excursions
Program Fee Does Not Include

  • Lunches
  • Travel Visas
  • All airline taxes, charges and fees
  • Insurances
  • Gratuities
  • Registration fee
  • Course texts
  • Medical Insurance and Cancellation Protection*

*All students travelling with MEI Academy are required to purchase Medical Insurance.

NEW! Pay Using Points

You can now use your points to partially or fully pay for your MEI invoice.

Students can now fund school fees with loyalty points! Aeroplan® Miles or TD Points, to be specific!

MEI International Academy is pleased to announce it has joined the HigherEdPoints.com Program as a Participating Institution. With this new partnership, students are able to convert Aeroplan® Miles and/or TD Points into funds to help cover their fees at MEI International Academy.

You can also convert the Aeroplan® Miles and/or TD Points of family members and friends to help pay for school. Anyone can donate either of these loyalty points to an individual student.

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