International Programs  

Welcome to the Aquinas College International Programs E-Newsletter!

Perpignan, France Costa Rica - A Lesson in Differences
About the Spain Program Have Guitar, Will Travel (to Ireland)
Greeting from Perpignan, France!
By Michael Buck, participant in the 2005 France Program
I couldn't be more pleased with Perpignan. Weary after almost 24 hours of travel, I arrived in Perpignan and was greeted by my host family, the Brusquants. I was nervous at first, but quickly realized what great people there were. They have had foreign students before and realizing that I was nervous, helped me to feel at home and relax; the university did an excellent job of choosing them to house students. The university is also extraordinarily good with foreign students, helping everyone out and making sure that we understood everything - no matter what our skill level.
My classmates are students from all over the world; eleven different countries are represented in my class of sixteen alone. I find it amazing that just the other day I had a conversation with a Libyan, a Swede, and a Chinese student, and that our only link was French and the love of the language. It's really quite an incredible thing. Everybody should grasp the chance to study in a foreign country, and Aquinas helps every student to realize that experience. I could not think of a better way to spend a semester of my college experience.
Study in Spain

Want a chance to immerse yourself in a new culture?

Want to spend a semester focusing on your major or minor or just learn another language?

Want an opportunity to travel Europe?


Then what you really want is the opportunity to study abroad in Spain. In this ten week program, students study at the University of Salamanca, located approximately two hours northwest of Madrid, through an international language program called Los Cursos Internacionales.

Students who participate in the amazing program have the chance to learn Spanish from native speakers and are placed into the level of Spanish suitable for them. Participants live with host families and have the opportunity to expand their knowledge of the language everyday while communicating with the host parents and siblings. But let's not forget about that traveling Europe part. The students also go on required excursions to such cities as Madrid, Toledo, Granada, Sevilla, and many cities in Portugal.
Studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain is truly an experience of a lifetime! It is not only one of the best ways to learn another language, but one of the best ways to experience another culture and explore a new part of the world. If this sounds like the experience you have been searching for, contact the International Programs office today!
Costa Rica - A Lesson in Differences
By Michael Shea, participant in the 2004 Costa Rica Program
It's a whole other world down here in Costa Rica. Everything from the food, to traveling - the manner of living around here is shockingly different from life in America. Strangely though, some of these striking contrasts show themselves later to be just a slightly different way of doing the same thing in our culture. For others things, it's just the opposite.
I noticed this watching the town gather together last Tuesday for their high school soccer game. The first thing that caught my attention was the extreme casualness and apparent familiarity everyone had with the place and community.
Instead of an organized seating arrangement, individuals, groups of friends, and even families sat or wandered around outside the brightly lit, fenced-in field, in a completely nonchalant way. There was no admission price for the event. Coming and going was done at whim. Even stray dogs were allowed to weave in and out of the people like trout in a stream.
Another difference was the music. Instead of the brass horns and drums that we're used to in the Midwest, a large group of swaying adolescents played small wooden percussion instruments and xylophones. Their repeating rhythm was hypnotizing, whirling out from its point of origin like incense into the mouths, feet, and hearts of the onlookers and passersby. They seemed to know something that I didn't. Their steps moved to a different beat, their lips to a different way of saying things, and their hearts to the chords of a mostly different history, community, and set of goals.
Nevertheless these differences, however deep they do run, do not blot out or diminish the similarities that all cultures share in one way or another. Moms, dads, and little siblings still came out to root for their family stars. Young couples still kissed in the shadows of trees. And the flashing determination of victory could be still seen in the young players' eyes - just as where we live.
In getting to know a different culture, many things, once we think we know them, swoop away from our simple-minded confidence only to come back later ablaze with insight - shining new insights on the culture in view and sometimes on ourselves.
I have yet to pin down all of the similarities and differences between the culture here in Costa Rica and at home. Maybe I never will. But that doesn't take away what this place has already given me; nor does it make me any less in love with this beautifully different country and its people.
Have Guitar, Will Travel (to Ireland!)
Your study abroad experience is what you make of it! Dave Doppel, Ireland 2004, added his own personal touch to his semester abroad by sharing his many musical talents while in Ireland. With guitar in tow, he entertained the students and locals alike in the Tully Cross pubs, tried the street musician gig in Galway for a day, and accompanied his students in song while working as a teacher's aide in an area school. Dave even had the opportunity to travel to Dublin and play in the National Theater for a choir concert being held there.
NOTE: This E- Newsletter was complied by the International Programs office. If you have participated in one of Aquinas College's study abroad programs and would like to contribute to this e-publication, please e-mail Joelle Baldwin at