Will Hehemann | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Science
Angelica Perkins, a junior major of business finance at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, recently returned from a study abroad program in Guadalajara, Mexico. Over the course of five weeks, she completed an intensive Spanish language course at the University of Guadalajara (UDG) that was exclusively offered to students from member universities of the Association of Public Land-grant Universities (APLU), a research, policy and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
“We learned about this program through the Office of the Chancellor, and I am so happy we could recruit a student from UAPB to participate in what appears to be a really great opportunity,” Dr. Pamela Moore, associate dean for global engagement, Office of International Programs at UAPB, said. “We hope to recruit and send more students next summer.”
The program was designed to allow students from APLU universities to study the Spanish language and strengthen their knowledge of Mexican culture and history while receiving academic credits. A 60-hour language course focused on grammar, oral expression and reading skills, while a 20-hour cultural course helped students learn more about Mexican society through geography, arts, education and history.
During university sessions, Perkins’ learning objectives were split between Spanish grammar and verb tenses, reading and speaking sessions, as well as cultural activities that included dance workshops. During informal conversational meetings, she was able to interact with Mexican students enrolled at UDG in Spanish. After a month of speaking Spanish, Perkins says she finds herself speaking the language more deliberately and making fewer grammatical errors.
“The first week I was tired in class almost every day, as my brain was overloaded with Spanish,” she said. “The following weekend I had a dream in Spanish, and the second week I found myself thinking in the language without having to translate as much. My level of comprehension has increased, and I have bettered my grammar while writing.”
Perkins said she appreciated working with university faculty and staff, who were helpful and supportive of their students’ learning progress. The chance to learn alongside students from a variety of North American land-grant universities gave her new insights into her educational goals.
“In the classroom, I was reminded that my competition is not only with UAPB students,” she said. “Therefore I feel motivated to work 10 times harder this school year to ensure I am adequately prepared upon graduation.”
The program included trips to historical and cultural sites around Guadalajara, as well as a five-day excursion to Puerto Vallarta on Mexico’s Pacific coast in Jalisco state.
“I most enjoyed the Mexican culture and people – some of the most genuine and friendly people I have ever met,” Perkins said. “Mexican culture seemed like intensified southern hospitality. The people go out of their way to make others feel special.”
The study abroad program was the first time Perkins had traveled outside the U.S. She said she delighted in the simple pleasures of the trip, from arriving at the airport to walking around the UDG campus.
“I recommend studying abroad to other UAPB students, as it increases your global awareness and helps you realize the world is so much bigger than you,” she said. “The experience has also made me realize how blessed I am and that it is my duty to help others as I have been helped.”