"No matter how hard we try to transmit information in our classrooms,” Dr. Enrique Porrúa explained, “learning a foreign language or a foreign culture is a natural skill. There is no better place to learn than being on site. Talk to the locals, touch the land, breathe the air, see the colors, and the light. Once again, it was my pleasure —with the help of Dr. [Diana] Lee— to lead a group of enthusiastic UNCP students and give them the opportunity to experience the Spanish culture first-hand and learn by experience.”
During the spring of 2018, 10 students in Spanish 3510 had exactly that opportunity when they Spain with Drs. Porrúa and Lee, who had been preparing them for the experience throughout the semester.
All students kept extensive travel journals about their experiences. When they returned, students also created photo scrapbooks of their travels. “I could tell that the trip and the opportunity to write a journal were both key components to enabling students to expand their understanding of the world around them,” said Dr. Lee. She continued, “I was really touched as well that several students communicated in their writing how they began to see their professors through a new lens of friendship through the experience. That ultimately became the highlight of the trip for me.”
Students enjoyed a number of cultural experiences while in Madrid. The group visited several museums including Museo del Prado, which was a favorite for everyone. In addition, students and professors remembered other special activities from the tour such as walking through El Retiro Park and having a lovely dinner at a Flamenco show.
Another unexpected and exciting part of the trip was a two-day outing to Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands. “Even though we have led similar programs before, in this case, the group took advantage of the incredible opportunity to visit the Canary Islands west of Africa. We drove up the Teide volcano, rode camels, visited beautiful towns, and had a good time at the beach. Unforgettable. I don't think any student who experiences a study abroad program returns being the same person. I say this in the most positive way,” stated Dr. Porrúa.
Students have many opportunities for study abroad trips like this one at UNC Pembroke, and more and more students are taking advantage of the educational experiences offered through these programs.