Travelers explore foreign lands, languages

June 29, 2009

by Taylor Stephens

Twenty-nine students will travel in three different programs to three different foreign nations to enrich their already basic knowledge of another culture. The programs began May 31 and will end Aug. 10.

From San Jose, Costa Rica, to London, England, to Saint Mary’s Bay in Nova Scotia, students who have mastered the basic and advanced languages of Spanish and French will see the sights of foreign countries.

Donna Bancks, coordinator for the Study Abroad program, said she holds high hopes for the students that travel across the sea.

“The Costa Rica trip is an immersion program, meaning no English while you’re there,” Bancks said. “In correlation with seeing the sights, such as the coffee plantations, students will also be required to take six hours of written and conversational formal classes.”

She said those formal classes could range anywhere from Spanish 102 to 400 level Spanish 400 and anyone could go to Costa Rica as long as they had taken Spanish 101.
The Costa Rica trip lasts from May 31 to June 27.

The London trip, which lasted from June 2-24, holds different standards for students wanting to participate in the Study Abroad program. One of these standards is being the ability to hold at least a 2.7 cumulative GPA.

“There is no language barrier for the London trip,” Bancks said. “This trip is for performing arts, literature and language students.”

She said that this trip was also open to any major, but the classes they are required to take while there were far less broad.

“The classes are at the 300 and 400 levels [of foreign language], which is more selective than the 100 level classes they have to take in Costa Rica,” she said.

Sara Sullivan, a graduate student in English, documented her travels through London for anyone to read. After landing in London, exchanging her currency exchanged and visiting the old bookshop that would be her classroom, she took her first trip to the British museum.

“We saw various exhibits including sculptures from ancient Egypt, the Aztecs and the Parthenon,” Sullivan said. “We also saw the Rosetta Stone – the Egyptian artifact, not the language software.”
Sullivan also took trips to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Charleston House, Notting Hill, Westminster and the city of London Museum.

“The London experience is a very content rich course,” Bancks said. “This is the opportunity for students to see what they’ve only read about. Instead of reading about Stratford-Upon-Avon or the Canterbury Cathedral they’ll get to see the actual landmarks.”

She said that the London trip is similar to the Nova Scotia trip except in the Nova Scotia trip it is necessary to have a basic grasp of the French language.

“The students going will need to have a grasp of the language,” Bancks said. “They’ll be staying on campus in the University of St. Anne, and they will be required to speak French on campus.”

She said this is the first year that Tech is sending a faculty member, Rudy de Mattos, with the students, rather than having students make the trip on their own avail.

The Nova Scotia trip, which lasts from July 2 to Aug. 10, also has a separate set of standards from the London and Costa Rica trips. Students participating in the Nova Scotia trip must have completed at least French 101 and be able to hold a conversation in French.

Bancks said when students return to campus, they will have not only the knowledge of foreign countries, but they can now say they have experienced them.