Nearly three dozen students leave today to take part in the Study Abroad semesters in Montevideo, Uruguay and Oxford, England.
Stephen Shewmaker, executive director of the Center for International Education, said that while fall enrollment in the Study Abroad programs is often lower than spring enrollment, the number of participants has gone up since last year.
“This fall, there are 23 students going to Oxford and 12 to Montevideo,” he said. “Our fall groups are traditionally smaller than the spring groups.”
Shewmaker explained that the Study Abroad programs are specifically targeted for sophomores, and typically include general eductation courses like language, literature, Bible and humanities. This year, however, the Montevideo trip is significantly different.
“For the first time, we’re doing a Spanish immersion program in Montevideo,” Shewmaker said. “There are two tracks – an intermediate track and an advanced track – and students will take all their courses in Spanish, and the language of the house the students are staying in will be Spanish.”
Paul Roggendorff, associate professor of Spanish, is leading the Spanish immersion course in Montevideo. He said the new program was designed to immerse students in the culture and language of Uruguay.
“Because we’re taking students that have more than just basic Spanish proficiency, and all they’re studying is Spanish, they’re going to be able to use the language a whole lot more and a whole lot quicker,” Roggendorff said. “We’re going to be able to go out more and interact with the locals to make friends and get involved.”
He said the group will pledge to speak Spanish exclusively from breakfast to dinner, allowing students to prepare for the day comfortably and unwind in the evenings while still getting to know Uruguay and its people.
“One of the reasons I’m going on this trip is to familiarize myself with where I’m from,” said Mandy Rama, sophomore family studies major. “I’ve lost a lot of my Spanish, and I want to regain that Spanish. The program is perfect for that.”
Rama, who was born in Montevideo to missionary parents, said she is also looking forward to cultural immersion.
“The group is so small – it’s only 12 of us,” Rama said. “I think that’s going to give us an opportunity to hang out with people outside the ACU group and get to know the culture – and the food.”
Rama and other students are looking forward to the opportunity ahead and so is Roggendorff.
“The students are very excited about this program, and we are very excited to offer it for them,” Roggendorff said. “It’s a significant increase in Spanish language and culture learning opportunities.”
Application spots for the spring semesters abroad are limited, with the Uruguay program offering the most openings. For information to apply, visit www.acu.edu/academics/studyabroad/.