Studying abroad - Mexico & Colombia
Studying abroad is an important aspect of our liberal arts education platform at Lakeland College, and the Spanish program features a couple of regular excursions that embrace this philosophy.
During late spring and early summer, Lakeland students had two exciting opportunities to earn credits abroad. The first trip, to Mexico during Mayterm, was a joint venture by the Hospitality Management and Spanish programs. The second excursion, to Colombia in June, was for the Spanish program.
The first course designed for Hospitality Management and Spanish began in 2005, and is offered every other year. Part of the curriculum for this three-credit course is a week-long trip to Mexico. Split between resort hubs Cancun and Cozumel, this trip provides a real-world educational and cultural experience and is open to all students no matter their major.
Spanish instructor Elizabeth Fronczak and Professor of Hospitality Management Charles Stockman lead the trip, which includes on-site “classroom” instruction, journal-keeping, interviewing native Spanish speakers in the hospitality management industry and various historical and career-oriented tours.
This trip has grown tremendously in popularity, from five students the first year to 17 this year.
“We visit ruins and tour different three-, four- and five-star resorts to really get a feel for the differences,” says Fronczak. “We study the food and culture there, both inside the resorts and outside, in the communities.”
This bi-annual trip has value in terms of real-world career preparation and general life experience.
“For some students, this is their first time leaving the state of Wisconsin or flying on an airplane,” says Fronczak. “And just seeing the students’ faces the first time they experience an iguana in the wild is priceless.”
Since 2007, Lakeland College has had a partnership with a university in Barranquilla, La Universidad Reformada, located on the Caribbean coast in the northern part of the country. That relationship has steadily grown over time, through student exchanges and visiting professors. Two years ago, the Colombian university sent five students to study English and North American culture at Lakeland, and this past June, Lakeland reciprocated by sending six students to the Colombian campus for a full month of Spanish language instruction and Colombian culture immersion.
“It’s a really the perfect agreement,” Fronczak says. “We keep the price down for all participants involved and the students learn an enormous amount about a new culture and country, their own culture and country and also about themselves – all in a pretty amazing setting. This was our first trip with students to Barranquilla, but we plan to make it annual or bi-annual.”
The half-dozen Lakeland students who made the trip this summer studied Colombian culture and literature and Spanish grammar, and improved their conversational skills in their second language. All courses were taught in Spanish for full-day instruction. There were even Spanish dance and music classes. In addition, the students were able to explore nearby cities and towns, attend a folkloric concert at the local theater, visit a variety of museums, watch the sunset from a castle and enjoy the beach.