September 6th - December 9th, 2022
September 17th - November 25th, 2022
*Program dates include online sessions to prepare students prior to travel and synchronous interviews to complete final assessments after travel.
- Swiss Alps
Contact us for course equivalencies in your school board.
9:1 Student to Staff Ratio
Why Take this Program?
From the shores of Lisbon where Vasco da Gama explored potential trade routes, to the streets of Berlin and the memories of a world divided, our students are challenged to see the connections in today's world, and how we can learn from the past in order to lead in the future. In the fall semester, you study the ideas of Voltaire, Rousseau, Darwin and Nietzsche and the motives of Machiavelli, Marx, Stalin, and Mao. As you travel and uncover the inner layers of each culture, you are left with a lasting impression of our modern collective consciousness. Along the way, you will enjoy delicious cuisine while getting into the best shape of your life! Our journey takes us through Western Europe, with each destination acting as a perfect backdrop to dive deeply into the reasons we act, govern, and live in today's world. The past shapes who we are, and this semester opens student's eyes by seeing famous works of art in the Louvre, climbing the peaks of the Swiss Alps, and visiting Dachau Concentration Camp to push students physically and emotionally to their limits. The fall semester is one to behold, and we will come home with a greater appreciation of where we come from and why we are who we are.
What People Are Saying
After a thrilling summer in Central America on the Backpackers program, I knew I couldn’t live the rest of my life untravelled. My heart was calling for Europe, and so I joined the adventure again with MEI’s Spring Semester. It was the best risk I ever took! The teachers brought life into every lecture and crafted brilliant connections with each student. My teachers weren’t just instructors — they were my mentors, friends, and family. The students I shared my journey with were the most unique, spontaneous, and beautiful people.
MEI isn’t just about academics, it's about absorbing new cultures, discovering who you are, building powerful friendships, getting out of your comfort zone, indulging, reflecting, challenging yourself, and embracing freedom. My MEI adventure through Europe has left me with many unforgettable moments, lessons and friendships!
Student, Spring Semester, 2018
Explore this program's detailed itinerary for a sense of the journey ahead!
Online Foundation Work
We start this program with two weeks of Online Live sessions. You will meet virtually with your teachers and classmates daily to read and discuss assigned readings and begin novel study projects. The Foundation Work period gives you a chance to review major assignments and get to know your crew so that you can hit the ground running when you land in your first location.
Day 1: Students will meet at our departure hub: Toronto's Pearson International Airport. Students will make their way to our first accommodation in the heart of Rome. Here, we will unite as a group to distribute coursepacks, T-shirts and MEI Journals. After settling into your room, we'll take a short stroll to our first family dinner amongst Rome's pastel-colored buildings.
Days 2-10: Students begin their journey of Western civilization in the ‘Eternal City’. With visits to the Colosseum and the ruins of the Forum, we wander through time and discuss the foundations of the West in the streets of the most excellent open-air museum—Rome. We will witness the physical and literal layers of Rome's history—intermixed with high fashion, luxury cars, and an unparalleled passion for soccer! Whether writing morning notes on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica, performing Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in the Roman Forum, or sampling the world's best gelato at the Trevi Fountain—in Rome—students witness the ghosts of history come alive.
Days 10-14: Our second stop is the ‘Home of the Renaissance’. Names such as da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Medici, and some of the world’s most beautiful architecture, Florence is the perfect place to see what an explosion of thought, art, and culture can bring to a city, and indeed, the West. While interspersing our days with visits to the Uffizi, Il Duomo, and the Accademia—home to Michelangelo’s David—students are captivated by some of the most vibrant markets, and some of the most beautiful architecture, in Europe. It is no wonder this city has been the favourite of artists, writers, and popes for centuries — it is the perfect place to investigate the Renaissance.
Days 14-19: After a fast-paced introduction to the MEI ethos, we relax and reflect on the white-sand beaches of the Tyrrhenian coast.
Days 19-24: Our next destination is a reward in itself: the beautiful Tuscan villa of Borgo San Luigi. Located halfway between Siena and Florence in the heart of Italy’s most famous region, this quintessential retreat offers sunbaked stone buildings and the quiet reprieve after Florence. Students are energized and recharge for their long journey ahead over an exceptional dinner of the best Tuscan cuisine with all of the newfound friends.
Days 24-30: We continue our adventure with a stay in Portugal’s illustrious capital — Lisbon. Whether climbing one of Lisbon’s seven hills or listening to a performance of Portugal’s famed Fado music, students naturally connect and are inspired by this ancient port city. Our classes vary between exploring hidden gems and nurturing creative pieces to be performed in small cafés of the Alfama.
Days 30-35: We continue into Spain and land in Madrid, where lovers of food and art alike instantly fall in love with this enchanting city. Whether wandering its elegant boulevards, exploring its world-famous museums filled with priceless European art, or admiring the orange glow of the city as the sun sets, this Spanish metropolis captures the imagination. An afternoon at the Prado allows the class to examine works by Picasso and Velazquez, as they collaborate in small groups to present their learnings followed by class discussions. In the evenings, students analyze literature over tapas dinners and take part in the relaxed, social atmosphere of Spanish culture.
Days 35-40: Barcelona has been an inspiration for writers and artists for over two thousand years with its vibrant colours, unmatched architecture, and Catalan cuisine. Students practice their hand at character development along Las Ramblas, poetry in Gaudi’s Park Güell, and travel writing in La Sagrada Familia, all between lunches along the Mediterranean and dinners in the Gothic quarter. If we’re lucky, we may even catch a glimpse of the world’s most famous soccer team.
Days 40-49: After crossing the Pyrenees, we arrive in France. In Paris, the city of lights, lessons focus on the Age of Enlightenment and the Age of Revolution as we debate the nature of humanity and the structure of civilization. In the crypt of the Pantheon, we revisit the arguments put forth by Rousseau and Voltaire that laid the foundation for the French Revolution and the rise of Maximilien de Robespierre. At his tomb, we discuss ‘The Little Corporal’ himself, Napoleon Bonaparte, and his domination of Europe. From bike rides in the gardens of Versailles to visits to the Musée du Louvre, our visit to Paris is a once-in-a-lifetime immersion into French history and culture.
Days 49-53: A welcome respite from the energy and intensity of four of Europe’s most famous cities comes in Strasbourg—a UNESCO World Heritage city on the border of France and Germany. A climb up the Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral, which has survived plagues, revolutions, and two world wars, highlights this Alsatian stop on our adventure. Here, we take a deep dive into English, focusing on the use of critical lenses in literary analysis and ways in which we can identify bias in our writing. In history, the scenic town blends French and German culture, and there is nowhere better to understand the conditions that allowed for the outbreak of the First World War.
Days 53-58: Making our way to the top of Europe, students emerge from the Stechelberg gondola to find their new home in the picture-postcard Swiss village of Gimmelwald. Here, we hike mountains and roast marshmallows by the fireside—with the clamour of giant cowbells, bleating mountain goats, and the sound of rushing waterfalls all around. Academically, students work on essay writing, namely developing a complex argument, for English and receive one-on-one mentorship while enjoying morning coffee overlooking the Alps. We also seek to understand the consequences of Industrialization and how the stage was set for the Great War. With a full-day Hike in the Alps and lots of rest time, Switzerland offers the perfect experience before we continue our adventure to Germany.
Days 58-64: In Munich, we introduce you to the works of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and the WWII holocaust novel Night by Eli Wiesel. These authors help us connect to the universal literary themes of salvation and survival and Munich is filled with cultural traditions revealed in their writings. From St. Michael's Church to the English Gardens, from Hitler's speeches at Odeonsplatz to the horrific legacy of the Dachau Concentration Camp, students will be exposed to how literature brings the past alive. With each poem, story, and song, you will have a deeper connection to what makes Munich a fitting place to end our literary journey. As a reprieve, we'll pack picnic lunches and visit Lake Starnberg to get a dose of nature and Bavarian-lake serenity. Our adventurous summer ends with one last dinner at the legendary Hofbräuhaus where we reminisce on all that we have experienced.
Days 64-70: Our final stop brings us to Berlin, the ideal location to dig deeper into the Cold War. This city, once divided in two, served as a microcosm for the post-war world at large. Dotted with reminders of its past, students will visit the Checkpoint Charlie Museum and the Berlin Wall Memorial to get a deeper understanding of the divide felt in this city. Now, the capital city of the most powerful country in Europe, Berlin has shed the remains of its communist past as it attempts to embrace its capitalist future. With its cafe culture and vibrant spirit, Berlin is the ideal city for students to complete their assignments and prepare for final exams. One last dinner together and a stroll through the Tiergarten gives us the chance to admire the Brandenburg Gate while sharing a fond farewell with our new family and reflect on all we have experienced on this adventurous and ambitious trek through Europe.
Departure from Berlin Airport on Day 70
Online Final Evaluation Week
Upon your return, you have time to complete additional research and pull your work together before your final one-on-one online assessment. This week allows you to reflect on your travel experiences and integrate them into the course material. MEI staff have found this style of evaluation enjoyable and the most authentic way for students to demonstrate their knowledge and academic skills.
- Ministry-approved credit(s) upon successful completion of the course(s)
- Custom course pack
- Student Login
- MEI journal
- MEI T-Shirt
- Digital yearbook
- Hotels and accommodations
- Breakfast and dinner daily
- Entrance fees to all course-specific sites
- Return airfare from Toronto's Pearson International Airport
- Approximate airline departure taxes, surcharges and fees
- Airfare between countries
- Transportation between hotel locations via private coach
- Transportation for all listed program excursions
Program Fee Does Not Include
- Local Transportation
- Course texts
- Medical Insurance and Cancellation Protection†
- Non-refundable $95 Registration Fee
† All students travelling with MEI Academy are required to purchase Medical Insurance.
**Program cost does not include non-refundable $95 registration fee or any airline taxes or fees. Please note the possibility of increases in airfares and land costs prior to departure. Any increase must be borne by the individual participant.