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The Department of World Languages & Cultures strongly urges all of its majors and minors to consider studying abroad during their years at EIU.
Opportunities abound for such study, no matter what level of language proficiency you currently possess. The point at which you should give studying abroad serious consideration varies with the individual and should be decided in consultation with your academic advisor.
Study abroad comes in many forms through EIU, including short-term travel/study trips organized through the collaboration of individual departments. EIU also has exchange agreements with a wide variety of institutions around the world and belong to a number of consortia that provide study abroad opportunities. For further information, consult the Office of Study Abroad.
We have options to fit every student's budget and goals. Choose faculty-led short-term programs, or spend a whole semester (or year) at our partner schools abroad.
"I was really good at reading textbooks, but I wanted to improve my speaking skills. After talking with my major advisors and consulting with the Study Abroad office on campus, I decided to attend the Universidad Veritas in San Jose, Costa Rica for the spring semester of my senior year."
The program Katie chose at Veritas was an intensive immersion program that required several hours of class each day in which the sole language of instruction was Spanish. In addition, she lived with a host family who only spoke Spanish.
A typical weekday would start with a 6 a.m. wake-up call followed by an elaborate breakfast prepared by her mama tica, which is what she called her Costa Rican host mother. Classes would begin at 8 a.m., would last four hours and included speaking, reading and writing assignments. After class she would explore San Jose, tutor other students or hang out with her host family. On weekends she traveled with friends.
"As soon as classes were done on Friday I would have my duffle bag ready, and we would go straight off to wherever we were headed. As Costa Rica is known for its beautiful coastline, I got to visit some magnificent beaches including Manuel Antonio National Park, Bocas del Toro and Puerto Viejo."
Katie also learned to appreciate cultural differences. For example, she learned that Costa Ricans had a different attitude toward time than what she was used to back home. She noticed, for example, that most people wore watches but never really looked at them. “If I was going to meet my Costa Rican friends at 2, I wouldn’t leave the house until 2:15 because they weren’t going to get there until 2:45. Americans go minute by minute, but in Costa Rica they hardly even pay attention to time.”
Katie learned that for Costa Ricans the idea that “time is money” had little meaning. However, for the people she learned to live among, “relationships are the most important thing that comes with time spent together." Her mama tica also taught her little things like to avoid smiling at strangers because they think you’re flirting or if you go to someone’s house even just for coffee, it is polite that you bring something. Katie insisted that she learned the most by watching how her host family would interact and then emulate them in her interactions with other people.
More than anything Katie credits her EIU professors with giving her the skills and knowledge she needed to study abroad. In particular, Dr. Kristin Routt, one of Katie’s Spanish professors, was exceptionally helpful in preparing her for her time abroad. “The professors all have this thirst to get to know other cultures and their languages. The Department of World Languages gives you opportunities to learn more and do more,” opportunities that are only available through language study.
Katie’s career plan is to become certified as a bilingual special education teacher. She intends to work with students with disabilities in a bilingual classroom setting.
Rebecca Duke (French Major) studies abroad in Angers, France (Spring 2016)
For further information, contact the department chair directly.