Imagine getting the chance to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, take a canopy tour through the rain forest in Costa Rica or teach a class in China and earn college credit at the same time. These are just some of the adventures and learning opportunities provided to students at The University of Texas-Pan American by the Office of International Programs through various study abroad excursions.
This summer, the Office of International Programs is offering 14 study abroad programs to places including Turkey, Greece, Argentina, Spain, Chile, Italy, France, Costa Rica, Germany, China and many more.
"One type of study abroad program is for those students that want to go by themselves for a semester or up to a year and the other type is the study abroad programs conducted during the summer," Tovar said.
Tovar said students that opt to go by themselves can choose what country and university they want to study at, while students that participate in the summer programs visit as a group and must stick to the courses specifically scheduled for that program.
"Students can study abroad for a semester up to a year or a semester and three summer sessions or six summer sessions only," Tovar said. "If they want to travel more they have to speak to their adviser."
Under the summer programs, there are also study abroad intersessions, which are three-week programs, May 10-28. Study abroad intersessions for this year include Germany; Oaxaca, Mexico; Turkey/Greece and Italy/France.
The summer programs are usually in-house programs, which means UTPA professors will be teaching the courses. Tovar said there are times when students will have an opportunity to learn from the professors of the country they are visiting.
Tovar also said the most popular study abroad excursion is to Salamanca, Spain, which will take place the first summer session from May 31-June 25, and costs $1,999 per student. The cost includes tuition, lodging, three meals a day and six credit hours. For this program, courses will be taught in communication, sociology, marketing, Spanish and government.
Other exciting trips include Costa Rica for criminal justice majors, $1,899; Paris, France for French and civilization courses, $1,350; and Buenos Aires, Argentina for psychology, business and counseling courses, $1,999.
New trips added to the list this year include Japan, Argentina, China, Turkey and Greece. The China program is limited to 20 students and is a paid teaching internship, which includes airfare, lodging, tution fees and one meal per day.
"This is a very limited program because the professor only wants 20 students since they will be taking an English course as well as teaching for an internship while there," Tovar said.
Dr. Peter Kranz, professor in educational psychology, will take his second study abroad trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina where he will teach cultural diversity to graduate students. He said his first study abroad program took him to Costa Rica, and he encourages students to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the Office of International Programs.
"This is a terrific experience for students to break out of the box and learn on so many levels cross-culturally. Not only can students benefit and open their horizons from studying abroad but also so can faculty. I think it is a broadening experience both intellectually and culturally," Kranz said.
Joefina Irigoyen, a master's candidate in counseling, attended the Costa Rica trip and said she had the best time of her life observing an active volcano, white water rafting and canopying through the rain forest. This year she plans to participate in the Argentina program, July 12-August 6.
"It was a great experience living in a different country for a month, meeting new people and making lots of new friends," Irigoyen said. "I recommend it to anybody, it is a once in a lifetime experience."
Irigoyen said she was grateful for the chance to travel to Costa Rica, which she paid for with a $1,000 scholarship, one of the many scholarships offered to students interested in going abroad. Tovar said all the study abroad programs offer financial aid for interested students.
"I have students that say they can't afford to go, but I tell them don't worry about the money. You don't have to pay the full amount you can make payments and there are plenty of scholarships available," Tovar said.
Study abroad scholarships are available for undergraduate and graduate students including the International Education Scholarship, Gilman Scholarship, International Women's Board Scholarship, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society Scholarship and the American Institute for Foreign Studies Scholarship.
Once students have studied abroad for a semester, Tovar said they always return to her office to sign up to participate in another program.
"It is a very enriching experience because it is getting to know another culture, another country and it is opening their minds," Tovar said. "It is something they won't forget in their whole lives, and it is something they should try if they haven't tried it yet."
For more information on the study abroad program, call Tovar at 956/381-3572 or 956/316-7998.