Students to live, study in Mexico

Nicole Weible

As some students prepare for Spring Break, about 45 students are looking forward to receiving Spanish credit hours by enjoying the sun this summer.

Those students will get their Spanish intermediate I and II credits by living in Cuernavaca, Mexico, for four weeks.

Starting June 11, students are flying down to Cuernavaca to learn and use the Spanish language in a Spanish culture, said Theresa Minick, adviser and member of the Study Abroad Committee.

Psychology graduate David Pirtle lived in Mexico last summer to receive academic credit.

“This is by far the best way to receive credit hours,” Pirtle said. “That is why I recommended it to a couple of people.”

In Mexico, students live with host families and attend a summer institute. They also learn Spanish linguistics and cultural immersion, he said.

Pirtle said living with the family is as important as learning in the classroom.

“I really enjoyed living with my host family,” Pirtle said. “I learned the language better just hanging out with them. They were very accommodating and helped us figure out what the hell was going on down there.”

The students received a ride to school every morning and three meals a day.

“I felt like I was 12 again,” Pirtle said. “We waited each afternoon for our host mothers to pick us up.”

Pirtle said students who are going down this summer will receive many benefits, and students immersed in the Spanish language will become better speakers.

“They will have a great time,” he said. “When is the next time you’re going to see pyramids?”

Senior psychology major Craig Stromberg said he heard about the program from Pirtle and decided to go to Mexico this summer.

“When Dave came back, he told me all about it,” Stromberg said. “It will be much better than sitting in a classroom.”

Minick said there were about 28 students who attended last summer’s program. This year, there are more than 45 students going.

She said the increase is because of several advantages to the program. Students are able to finish two semesters worth of Spanish in just four weeks, and the students are able to go on excursions to Taxco, Mexico City, Acapulco and the Teotihuacan Pyramids.

According to a brochure provided by the Department of Modern and Classical Language Studies, Cuernavaca is a university town as well as a favorite vacation site in Mexico. The city has colonial architecture and impressive scenery. It is known as the “City of Eternal Spring.” Street musicians, called mariachis, and outdoor markets are a big part of the city. Acapulco, Oaxaca, Puebla, Taxco and Mexico City are easy to reach from Cuernavaca, according to the brochure.

“It wasn’t too hot and it wasn’t too cold,” Pirtle said. “It was perfect weather the whole time we were there.”

Justice studies graduate Ben Pfouts attended the program last summer and said his favorite part of the trip was the excursions to surrounding sites.

“I mean, what better way to receive credit hours than to spend one of the weekends in Acapulco?” Pfouts said. “We learned the language, and we had fun at the same time. The sites were absolutely amazing.”

Pfouts said the last weekend in Cuernavaca was spent on the beach in Acapulco. Students swam with the dolphins, rented wave runners, played in the ocean and rode banana boats. He also said the hotel in Acapulco had vines hanging from the ceilings and balconies.

“The night life in Mexico was unreal,” Pfouts said. “The clubs and restaurants were beautiful. The people were very friendly.”

Tuition for the Cuernavaca program is $2,250 and includes housing, meals, excursions, administrative fees and mandatory insurance. It does not include airfare. Students must have at least a 2.5 GPA and must have taken elementary Spanish I and II, Minick said.

Pfouts and Pirtle both agree the students attending this summer’s program will receive many benefits.

“The city is beautiful and the people are amazing,” Pirtle said. “Those students will truly have the experience of a lifetime.”

Contact international affairs reporter Nicole Weible at [email protected].