Southern students set to study abroad in Spain this summer for credit

Photo taken of students studying abroad during a summer course in the past. 

Aaron Berkowitz – General Assignment Reporter 

The summer of 2015 will mark the 25th year of Dr. Carlos Arboleda’s  one-month study abroad program in Salamanca, Spain for graduate and undergraduate students to earn up to six credits.

“The program gives students the chance to immerse themselves into a beautiful culture which most of them have not been exposed to,” said Arboleda.

Students who travel to Spain for the one-month long program attend one of the oldest universities in Europe, University of Salamanca. Arboleda said he believes the program is so effective because Spain acts as a “bridge between Latin America and Europe.”

“I like the challenge of being there and connecting our students, American or Latin American students, with Europeans through such a beautiful place as Salamanca,” said Arboleda. “By the students getting immersed in another culture they get the opportunity to experience a completely different way of life.”

Adisa John, senior social work major, studied abroad with Arboleda back in the summer of 2014 and said it was the experience of a lifetime.

“I waited for that moment my entire college career so it really felt like I was fulfilling one of my dreams once I got there,” said John. “It’s always a blessing when you can enter a new country to learn about their lifestyle, culture, experience a change of scenery, meet new people and so much more.”

Dr. Arboleda said over the past 25 years some students enter the program apprehensive due to the drastic change in culture they see in Spain, but John said she embraced the change willingly.

“I’ve always been intrigued with learning new languages and I quickly fell in love with the Spanish culture in high school,” said John. “The experience has paved the way for me to be more open to other cultures that are presented in my environment. The people from Spain are so friendly and welcome you into their culture like no other that I’ve encountered. It is my desire to go back to Spain again one day.”

Students who are interested in being a part of the program for upcoming summer semesters must have a GPA of at least 3.0 and a total of 30 credits. According to SCSU’s study abroad webpage, the university sends over 200 students to study in different parts of the world each year and the program ultimately gives them a new cultural experience as well as a new appreciation for the world they live in.

Sarah Lauture, senior communications major, also attended the program with John in the summer of 2014 and said she recommends students take advantage of the great opportunity the university offers.

Lauture also said the locals were very receptive to the students who were visiting through the program and she recommends anyone who is eligible take advantage of the opportunity.

“The everyday interaction with local residents and business owners was also very influential in my experience abroad. They were always so welcoming and really made us feel at home,” said Lauture. “I would recommend students to take advantage of a study abroad opportunity simply for the fact that it helps you develop as a person. Experiencing life in the perspective of a student abroad is an opportunity you should never let pass you by.”

Dr. Arboleda said when he founded the program 25 years ago he couldn’t have imagined it developing into what it has today, but he hopes that students realize the value of the education they are obtaining when they do go.

“You get an opportunity to acquire another language while developing a new perspective. By doing that, you are ultimately helping yourself to succeed in any career path because you are able to communicate with more and help more people,” said Arboleda.

According to Arboleda, the university has taken over 800 students to Spain over the past 25 years and they are planning a class reunion for the students in October or November. He also said a high percentage of those who participated in the program have used their experience in their career choice.

“Probably 70 percent of the students that were in the program now work with the language,” said Arboleda.

He said through his many chances to interact with students, one experience in particular touched his heart.

“Cristina Cortese was a student from 2006 who traveled with us and had a wonderful experience,” said Arboleda. “But for some reason, months after our trip she began to develop leukemia and a year after she passed away.”

Arboleda said he has beautiful memories of Cortese that will never fade away and he is in the process putting together a publication to commemorate her life. His plan is to have it completed for July in time for a celebration in Salamanca for the university. He said the support shown by the people of Spain shows a glimpse of the connection students develop through their time in the program.

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