Viterbo strengthens community through study abroad programs


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Panorama of Zamora with Romanesque style cathedral and ancient bridge over Duero river.

Carter Steger, Assistant Editor

Viterbo University offers students opportunities to study abroad in different countries. Two of the upcoming study abroad groups are heading to Spain and South Africa. The study abroad trips are sponsored by different humanities departments , with faculty members overseeing the trips.   

Students enrolled in courses such as Spanish-301 or English-252 qualify to attend the study abroad trip to Zamora, Spain. John McMurry is one of those students. McMurry says the trip “will greatly help me, as I am a Spanish major. For my professional career I want to either interpret or use my bilingual skills as an employee somewhere. Because this trip is full immersion, it will help improve my Spanish abilities greatly.”  

All semester long students have been preparing for the trip in different ways. For some it looked like reading and analyzing Spanish texts or completing language courses. Even though the trip is a fully immersive experience, having a mastery of the Spanish language is not required.  The brochure for the Spanish trip reads, “A full month of Spanish language & culture immersion designed for all level of learners.” Full immersion trips help students gain valuable and tangible knowledge from other communities to apply in school and throughout their lives.  

Studying abroad helps students learn in ways that are missed by only being in a classroom. McMurry says, “We are traveling to Zamora, but we will also be going to Portugal for a weekend. Throughout the trip we will be traveling throughout the city as well as the country for many of the classes, not just sitting in a classroom. Being outside the classroom allows us to have a greater appreciation and knowledge of a different culture and way of life.”  

When the students get to Zamora, they will be studying at the King Alfonso Henriques Foundation Campus. The campus is located inside of a convent that was built in the 14th century. Luckily for the students the campus has received many renovations, including modernized living spaces, a cafeteria and classrooms that support access to up-to-date technology. Because of the campus’s location it overlooks the Duero River, adding another area to explore. 

For some, the idea of traveling to another country can seem daunting. McMurry shares, “I am most worried about forgetting something that I need back home or leaving something in Spain when it is time to return home.” Zamora is described in the brochure as, “A small city with around 60 thousand inhabitants in a both urban and country like setting.” Even though it is a different city in another country, some people might describe La Crosse in a similar way.  

The students that have not been to Zamora before are not without an experienced guide. As mentioned in the brochure, Associate Professor Dr. Jesus Jambrina “usually spends summers in Zamora, doing research on Spanish Poetry, and traveling in the area, from where part of his family immigrated to Cuba in the early 20th century.”  

Study abroad opportunities align with Viterbo’s vision of “A Catholic, Franciscan university boldly transforming students and our communities through service, collaboration, and leadership.” Because on these trips, students are doing much more than simply going to classes and back to their rooms. They are able to learn from other communities. McMurry says, “This is an experience that I’m excited about. It’ll be something I remember for a long time, and I’m sure one that will help me grow.”  

The students are set to arrive in Spain on May 15 and be there until June 15.