Study Abroad Guide for Spanish-Language Students

Students who are studying Spanish have many options for study abroad in Spain and Latin America. This guide highlights the different types of programs abroad, questions to ask yourself in considering your study abroad options, and resources for further information.

Types of Programs Abroad:

University Study/Direct Enrollment – This option allows you to take your courses enrolled in the local university alongside students from the host country.  Usually this means you have access to the full range of curriculum that the university offers, and you are expected to perform at the same level as local students.  Typically Middlebury does not permit students to take courses designed for Spanish-language learners; rather, students must take regular university courses.  Note that the calendar for direct enrollment options is different from Middlebury’s.  In Latin America, fall semester is usually July through December, and spring semester is February/March through July; in Spain the fall semester includes J-term, and spring semester goes into late June.

Field-Based Programs – Field-based options utilize theories of experiential education to offer a non-traditional classroom approach.  Typically a distinguishing feature of these types of programs is independent research opportunities and training in field work methodology and culturally appropriate research skills and ethics.  Field-based programs do have lectures, homework, papers, exams, and other “traditional” components of academia, and students do receive grades for course work.

Service Learning Programs – This type of program usually includes regular university course work, in addition to a significant service learning component.  These programs are based on the pedagogy that service learning unites and links academic study with community service.  Credit and grades are granted for the course work, not the service learning component.

Internships – Internships allow you to gain professional experience in your field of interest, use your language skills, and meet people in your host country outside of the university environment.  Middlebury students can participate in internships in addition to taking regular university courses.  Typically the internship component is only 25% or less of your credit load and is a graded academic component.

Getting Started: Questions to Ask Yourself:

  • Are there any academic requirements I must fulfill abroad (major/minor/distribution)?
    • If so, choose a program or university that offers courses in those disciplines.
  • What size city do I want to be in?
  • What size program do I want to be on? 
  • Do I want to be in a university-based program?
    • If so, narrow your focus to a Middlebury School Abroad, or to a direct enroll program in a country where Middlebury does not already have a program (so, not Argentina, Chile, Spain or Uruguay).
  • Do I want to be in a field-based program?
    • If so, focus on those types of programs (examples include SIT Study Abroad programs and the Organization for Tropical Studies program).  Again, you may not do a field-based program in a country where Middlebury has its own program (so, not Argentina, Chile, Spain or Uruguay).
  • Do I want an internship as a part of my academic program?
  • Do I want volunteer- or service-based opportunities?
  • Do I want a grammar/language class as a component of my program?
  • Do I want language immersion to be a primary focus of my program?
    • Even though Middlebury students are required to have completed at least one 300-level course in Spanish before going to any Spanish-speaking country, not all programs require the same level of proficiency.  Some programs will have students with a wide range of Spanish ability, which may make complete linguistic immersion difficult.
  • Do I need to select a program eligible for Middlebury grant financial aid?
  • Is it important to me to be on a program where there is an on-site or in-country director?
  • Do I want to have a homestay or do I want an apartment or residencia-style living environment?
    • A homestay is where you live in a local home, though the make-up of the family and the involvement with the family may vary by situation.
    • A residencia or apartment can be a more independent option and may include roommates from other areas of the world (and not just from the host culture).

Knowing the answers to the above questions and which factors are most important to you will help you rule out programs and narrow your focus along the way.

Resources for Choosing a Program:

  • Research program options on our web page.
  • Read past students’ evaluations
  • Talk with Spanish and Latin American Studies faculty. 
  • Talk with study abroad returnees – International Programs and Off-Campus Study can give you a list of students. 
  • Meet with an advisor in International Programs:

 Nicole Chance: Middlebury School Abroad in Spain

Alessandra Capossela: Middlebury Schools Abroad in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay      

Stacey Thebodo: Externally sponsored programs (in countries other than Argentina, Chile, Spain, and Uruguay)

Other Information:

Financial aid for study abroad   

Scholarships for study abroad