The members of the study abroad committee of the department of romance languages read with great interest Alex Kuczmarski’s letter to the editor in the April 4 issue of The Villanovan regarding study abroad programs. The article takes up a very important issue, that of communicating to students the changes and policies adopted by the faculty of the department.
Our programs have been well advertised on our website and in posters displayed all over the University, and the Office of International Studies was informed from the very beginning, and has collaborated with the department. However, since the changes are recent, there is some confusion among students.
A study abroad experience has become part and parcel of higher education. Many companies and non-profit organizations seized the opportunity to create programs abroad and market them aggressively to universities in the United States and elsewhere. They typically manage a large number of programs in many countries simultaneously. However, quality control of the students’ academic experiences is not always their first priority.
We have observed that student proficiency, and knowledge of the language after returning from such programs do not always match our expectations. Because at Villanova we strive for academic excellence, the department of romance languages and literatures created its own study abroad programs in Lille, France; Urbino, Italy; and Cádiz, Spain.
The programs were designed with the specific requirements of the majors and minors in mind. This is why students who wish to obtain credit for their majors and minors are expected to go to these programs.
However, students are free to choose any program of study abroad, and obtain elective credits for their language courses and their experience abroad.
Cádiz is one of the oldest cities of Western civilization; a beautiful, safe, quintessentially Spanish city, where students will be fully immersed in the Spanish language and culture while enrolling in a high quality academic program.
The department works closely with the Office of International Studies. They are aware of the guidelines for study abroad, which have been posted on the departmental website since the Fall of 2012 (http://www1.villanova.edu/villanova/artsci/romancelanglit/studyabroad_guidelines.html).
The department does not profit financially from these programs, and in the future more alternatives will be offered to majors and minors by establishing additional programs in the French, Italian and Spanish-speaking worlds.