LMC partnership creates opportunity for students to study in Spain

Published 9:08 am Monday, March 4, 2019

BENTON HARBOR — Lake Michigan College, in direct partnership with the University of Salamanca, is offering students an opportunity to study abroad through an immersive month-long program, May 6 to 31, in Salamanca, Spain.

The program, open to all LMC students, offers three hours of Spanish language instruction Monday to Friday in both writing and conversation with an optional one or two additional hours in courses such as history, culture and business at the University of Salamanca, the top-ranked university in Spain and the third oldest university in the world still in operation, celebrating its eighth centennial in 2018. Through this direct partnership, these courses transfer back to LMC as Spanish language credit.

Amy Scrima, the Social Sciences, Humanities, Arts and Education department chair, who oversees the program, now in its third year, said the program could offer valuable insight to students.

“There are some things you can’t teach that requires experience outside your normal surroundings and that’s why this program makes sense,” Scrima said. “Study abroad to Europe may seem like nothing new, but I think the reason most community colleges haven’t explored it as an option is because it is dang expensive. This year we were able to partner directly with the University of Salamanca to bring down the total cost of tuition and room and board to $1,547, which is less than half the cost of study abroad programs at four-year institutions.”

That cost, currently $1,547, includes tuition, room and board with either a host family or a single-room dorm, three meals a day, medical insurance, and one weekend day trip excursion of choice to the surrounding cities and towns of Ávila, Segovia, Toledo or Madrid. More weekend excursions, including an overnight trip to Lisbon, Portugal, may be added for an additional cost. No visa is required to take part in the program.

“The only other cost is the flight itself and your passport, and I’ve seen flights recently for around $600,” Scrima said. “So, for $2,000-$2,500 you can have what has been a life-changing experience for everyone who has gone so far. People think that it won’t work for them because they just assume it will be too expensive or that it wouldn’t work with summer classes. This study abroad experience starts after our spring session ends and ends right as our summer session is beginning. So, you can have this unique experience and not miss any classes at LMC.”

In addition to its Spanish courses for non-native speakers, which attracts more than 2,000 foreign students each year, students also will learn about the language and culture from host families and from exploring Salamanca and the rich cultural region of western Spain.

“My host family didn’t speak any English so at first it was like, what did I get myself into?” said Sophia Weidner, a business major in her final semester at LMC, who took the trip last summer. “They were an older couple who had worked at the university for 20 years. I may not speak the language very well but she would teach it to me through cooking. She showed me all these new dishes that I fell in love with. I learned songs. I learned poems. By the end, I was having dreams in Spanish. They became part of my family. I cried when I left.”

“Anytime students step out of their comfort zone, it often opens doors that they didn’t even realize existed,” Scrima added. “My hope for students is that this experience will increase their confidence in their ability to grow in ways they maybe didn’t see before. These are the kinds of experiences that broaden who you are. If we at Lake Michigan College can give students an opportunity that impacts their lives now, then why wait?”

Students interested in finding out more information about the study abroad program should contact Amy Scrima at (269) 927-8777, ascrima@lakemichigancollege.edu or visit lakemichigancollege.edu/Spain.