New Study Abroad trip opens doors for SJ&B students

Kristina Burton

Two things that WKU students hear a lot about are study abroad and the need to find ways to improve their portfolios and resumes.

A new opportunity for students within the School of Journalism & Broadcasting allows them to do both in Salamanca, Spain.

Susann Davis, a Spanish instructor at WKU, said that there has been discussion of a study abroad prospect like this for several years.

“The idea was to combine Spanish and journalism so that students could use language in the field,” Davis said.

Davis has worked alongside Josh Meltzer, a professional-in-residence for the School of Journalism & Broadcasting, to create this study abroad experience.

“The economic crisis in Spain allows students to report on a major international issue,” Meltzer said. “The advanced Spanish students will be doing their reporting in Spanish, and it will be a challenge, but it will be great for students professionally.”

Meltzer also said the trip is completely immersive, both for language, because students will be living with host families, and also in journalism because they won’t just be studying it — they’ll be doing it.

Davis said that students will be able to walk away from their time in Spain with an international portfolio piece.

“If they are interested in Spanish and journalism, this is the perfect pairing to give them real world experience,” Davis said.

Davis also feels that it’s important for students to have experience studying abroad.

“It’s important to understand other cultures but also it helps us to see ourselves differently when we see ourselves from someone else’s perspective,” she said.

Meltzer said that in some parts of the country, knowing how to speak Spanish will be a job requirement, and immersing yourself in the culture is a great way to learn it.

“The class is there to support you, and the rest of the day is experiencing it and living it,” he said.

Meltzer went on to say that compared to other universities, WKU has a very low study abroad rate, partly because many students are first-generation college students.

However, he said Spain is a wonderful place to have your first international experience because it’s not very different from the U.S.

Davis agreed that this is a very good experience for first-time study abroad.

“Students will be with faculty that they know, but they will live with host families,” Davis said. “They will also be very busy because they will have two classes, [will be] working on their journalism project, and going on special excursions on weekends and some evenings.”

Davis also said that students shouldn’t let nerves about their Spanish-speaking abilities or living with a host family keep them from going to Salamanca.

“The 102 class will be designed to help them survive in Salamanca,” Davis said. “The host families regularly host students, so they are very good at providing for students with minimal language skills and making them feel welcome.”

The six-credit hour, four-week program takes place from May 19 to June 14, 2014 and is open to School of Journalism & Broadcasting majors or minors with some prior Spanish-language background and who enroll in Spanish 102 or 306.

Information sessions about the program will take place Oct. 1 at 6:30 p.m. in Mass Media and Technology Hall, Room 118 and Nov. 21 at 6:30 p.m. in Room 344.