This summer BJU students will have the opportunity to participate in four different study abroad tours led by faculty.
Students who go on the study abroad tours often do so to fulfill certain credit requirements in their program of study.
Dr. Amos Kasperek, faculty member within the Division of Modern Language, and Literature, will lead a tour for Spanish language credit.
Dr. Jeremy Patterson, chair of the Division of Modern Language and Literature, will lead a tour for French language credit.
Another tour will be led by Dr. Carl Abrams and Mrs. Linda Abrams, both of whom are faculty in the Division of Social Science. This tour will take students to France, and it will count for academic credit.
Dr. Paul Radford, head of the Department of Communication Studies, will lead a study abroad tour to the United Kingdom for communication studies credit.
Kasperek said the students on the Spain tour will spend just over a month in the Eastern part of Spain.
“We are going to two little towns joined together called Elda-Petrer,” he said. “[They’re] located roughly 30 minutes inland from the Mediterranean coast city Alicante, a little bit south of Valencia.” He said students stay with host families and have a lot of interaction with them.
Students who participate in the Spain study abroad program spend their mornings in class and their evenings spending time with their host families, working on homework or going out with other students. Kasperek said students receive significant linguistic benefits from the tour. He said they improve their language proficiency by speaking a language that is not their first for an extended period of time, and the student’s language skills improve because they’re able to interact with people from other cultures.
“Students will grow in their ability to communicate effectively,” he said. “That is a skill people want in the twenty-first century.” Kasperek said another great benefit is students are given an opportunity to reach beyond themselves and be a Gospel light to the places they visit.
“The trip will put students into contact with cultures and people they may not have otherwise had contact with and will give them an opportunity to make a Gospel contact,” he said. “That is why I support study abroad and the benefits of it.”
Patterson said the students will receive six French language credits and spend four weeks in and around Paris. He teaches a three-credit course on Paris, in which students study the city’s history, geography, famous people, monuments and museums.
Patterson said the students will the earn the other three credits by pairing up and studying another city or town the same way they did Paris. The students will be involved in two different churches.
“As part of their course objectives, they will do some activities for the church that will contribute to their projects,” he said. “Like interviewing people and doing worldview surveys. And other things the church might ask them to do like pass out tracts, teach children’s classes or do music.”
He also said he hopes the students will benefit from interacting with a church that may be very different from what they are used to.
“It opens your mind,” he said. “Not all Christians do church the same around the world.”
Patterson said students will develop their language skills in an ideal, immersive environment. In his opinion, the study abroad students are given a win-win situation.
“For a pretty good price, students can go to countries, places, monuments and museums that so many people want to visit,” he said. “Students can be tourists, but also earn academic credit toward a major or minor. There is really no down side to it.”
Radford said he and the students travel for two weeks to various places in England and Scotland including London, Bath, Nottingham, Oxford, York, Keswick and Edinburgh. He said students will visit Stonehenge, Stratford-upon-Avon and maybe even Sherwood Forest.
Radford said the purpose of the tour is for students to learn about some of England’s most beloved storytellers. “We are going to look at C.S. Lewis, William Shakespeare and J.R.R. Tolkien and how they used fictional stories to communicate spiritual ideas,” he said. “We stop in places significant to those people. The way I see it is that this is a very immersive learning experience.”
Radford said there are many benefits to the tour. He said students gain class credit but that there is far more to the trip than that. “It is economical,” he said. “And I do think you build strong bonds with fellow learners.”
He also said his goal for his trip is to give students an opportunity to travel together for the same price or cheaper than they would individually.
Radford said the tour is open to all students. “This is very applicable to any student,” he said. “It’s not just for literature and communication majors.”
Yani Juve, a senior interior design major, traveled on an art study abroad trip last summer to Spain, Italy and France. The tour was led by Mrs. Michelle Radford and Dr. Paul Radford and happens every two years.
She said they traveled by plane to Barcelona, Spain, but spent the rest of the trip traveling in a cruise ship. She said it was very fun, and she enjoyed learning about the history behind many famous sights. “You don’t need to be an art student to learn about those places,” she said. “You get to understand what a picture in a textbook was talking about.”
She said the tour was not too expensive. “It’s a full experience of three different countries, a cruise ship, different cultures and foods, and getting out of your comfort zone,” she said. “And it’s for an affordable price.’’
Juve said students who are thinking about going on a study abroad should talk to their instructors and their parents for advice.
“We are college students, so we don’t have as many responsibilities as people with full time jobs do,’’ she said. “Take the opportunity now while you have it.”
Anna Grace Casillas, a sophomore Spanish major, participated in the Spanish study abroad tour last summer led by Kasperek.
She said it was difficult speaking Spanish for the majority of the time but that she improved a lot in her proficiency.
“By the end of the first week you have a headache,” she said. “But it was still cool.”
She said they visited many cities and places, including different castles, on the weekends while there.
After the tour, she changed her major because she wanted to focus on Spanish.
She said she learned so many different things from the tour, particularly about experiencing other cultures.
“We learned to treat people better from other cultures when they come to America because we were in the same situation over there,” she said.
Casillas said when she came home she really missed Spain.
“To be honest, it was the best four weeks of my life,” she said.
Dr. Gary Weier, executive vice president for academic affairs, said that study abroad tours are a great way for students to apply what they are currently learning in a variety of classes.
“It takes you out of your comfort zone,” he said. “You learn about different cultures and people and that enables you to see people in a different light.”
He encouraged students to prayerfully consider pursuing study abroad tours this summer.