Learning Abroad for Spanish, Latina/o and Latin American Studies Majors
The Department of Spanish, Latina/o, Latin American Studies strongly encourages its majors to move beyond the borders of the college campus. The experience of immersing themselves in a Spanish-speaking community (abroad or in the U.S.) will increase their linguistic competency, but most importantly it will help them better understand the intricacies of the diverse cultures in which Spanish is spoken. In other words, studying away from Mount Holyoke College will enhance students’ ability to maximize the opportunities and to face the challenges of a an increasingly interconnected world.
Students often describe their study abroad as a life-changing experience. Immersing yourself in a foreign culture will prove an enriching opportunity to put academic training (linguistic and cultural competency) into practice, experiencing first hand the subtle complexities and distinct advantages of global citizenship.
Where to Study
The Department of Spanish, Latina/o, Latin American Studies recommends a short list of programs both in Latin America and Spain. Students who have compelling reasons to choose a program not recommended by the department should consult with the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives and with the department’s study abroad advisors. Most students opt to spend one semester abroad, but the entire year is a highly desirable option. Many programs offer language and cultural studies courses, but others may also give you the opportunity to select courses in other disciplines and to take normal university courses alongside local students.
For a list of where past and present Spanish majors have studied and a summary of the courses that they took abroad, check this searchable database. Note that this is not a definitive list of what is possible and should serve only as a useful guide and planning resource.
When to Study
Most students are best prepared to study abroad by the fall and/or spring semesters of their junior year, although some students may choose to study during their sophomore year. Most programs require a minimum of five semesters of Spanish (or the equivalent). The department strongly recommends to start planning early--at least one year in advance--and to first contact the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives for general information on programs and procedures, and then the department’s study abroad advisors for information on transferring credits towards the major or minor in Spanish or Latin American Studies.
Majors or minors must then contact the department’s study abroad advisors before registering for courses abroad to determine what courses may receive credit towards the Spanish or Latin American Studies major or minor upon satisfactory completion.
The Department of Spanish, Latina/o, Latin American Studies will count a maximum of 8 credits at the 200 or 300 levels towards its major or minor for students who spend one semester abroad and up to 20 credits for majors who spend two semesters abroad. The department will accept no more than 8 credits at the 300 level for courses taken abroad and no more than 4 credits transferred from a summer program towards the major or minor in Spanish or Latin American Studies.
Upon the student’s return, decisions on credit transfer will be based on academic criteria. Students are required to present the department with syllabi and all relevant course materials. Courses in a variety of subjects (literature, history, art, film, but also political science, economics, sociology, etc.) may count towards the major, but only if one of the department's study abroad advisors approves of the content and objectives of the courses.
Summer Internships and Research Abroad
A summer internship or research project in a Spanish-speaking country allows students to use the Spanish language and to apply what they have learned to explore possible career paths. It is also a wonderful opportunity to engage with other Spanish speakers in a different cultural context.
Students have the option of developing their own summer internship or research project. Support for unpaid opportunities is available through the Universal Application Funding (UAF), which offers students access to funding from a variety of College fellowship sources to cover travel and living expenses for the duration of the project. Students with a family contribution of less than $5000 may also receive a $500 grant to apply towards their summer earnings contribution. Both the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives and the Career Development Center have student evaluations of past international internships on file.