The Prairie met with faculty members involved with study abroad to get a deeper look into what students can expect if they choose to join one of the faculty led study abroad programs coming up this school year.
Neil Meredith, assistant professor of economics, will be leading students in Germany, Austria and Switzerland on a 13-day program.
This study abroad program will focus on the unique economic systems in Western Europe, as well as the cultural experience that comes along with being in these countries.
“Cultural experiences will include walking tourists sites, bike tours, and visiting a café in central Vienna,” Meredith said. “We will also visit the castle that was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella castle.”
Melody Loya, associate professor of social work, will lead students in a 12-day study abroad experience to Costa Rica.
Students will stay with a group of indigenous people and will also be going to the Caribbean coast, where they will experience more diversity.
“I hope that our students will gain the experience of being outside of their comfort zone and expand their world view by getting a different perspective on global issues,” Loya said. “Every country has issues and we don’t always realize what the effects are. This is not an experience you can get in the classroom.”
Loya said this location was chosen because of its interesting approach to social welfare and issues with immigration, which mirror America’s.
Andrew Reynolds, assistant professor of Spanish, will lead a group to Cuzco, Peru, in a four-week study abroad session. His goals are for students to improve their Spanish language skills through immersion.
“The main purpose for students to sign up is because they want to improve their Spanish,” Reynolds said. “I don’t want to give them many opportunities to use English for a whole month.”
Students choosing to go to Peru in June will see the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, attend an Incan festival, travel by train to the Andes Mountains, and other activities. Reynolds said students will study Spanish with Peruvian instructors, and he will be teaching a course in Peruvian culture and cinema.
Another study abroad session taking place in Peru, led by Dr. Trudy Hanson, Communication Department Chair, will focus on culture, storytelling and folklore. It will include a service learning experience as well. This session will take place in May for 11 days.
Each of these professors has done a site visit in which they make sure the area is safe and beneficial for student travel.
“I think it’s essential that faculty go ahead of time so they know what they’re getting into,” Loya said.
Meredith said every student should try to have an abroad experience to gain a more worldly perspective and channel preconceived notions.
“Students need to understand that the world is bigger than the state of Texas and expand ideas on the world we live in,” he said.