Academically, study abroad offers the best of both worlds; you can take courses in your major so you don’t fall behind for graduation, and/or you can take unique courses that may not be offered at your university and are specific to the country and culture where you’re studying.
With hundreds of courses offered in nearly every area of study, we can’t list them all. But with summer right around the corner, we thought we’d highlight some of our favorite courses that are offered during the summer. Some of these may also be offered during the semester, so it’s best to check the courses page of the program you’re interested in on our website.
So without further ado, we’ve got 24 unexpected classes that you can take during your summer study abroad. From a brand new Spanish Grammar and Composition for Heritage Speakers class in Alicante, Spain to biology classes in Costa Rica, marketing classes in Italy, culture classes in Prague and Germany and many more, one of these classes is bound to peak your interest.
Floripa, Brazil – Session II
Global Health Issues (CHS/HE/SOC, 400-level, 3 credits)
This course examines global public health issues through a biopsychosocial perspective focusing on health as a fundamental human right for all people. The course will look at the relationships between social and behavioral factors in health and disease. Topics include; infectious illnesses, chronic illnesses, nutrition, mental health, health issues of women and children, and ethical issues in health. Global perspectives on environmental factors in health such as climate, culture, economics, and political systems will be explored. The course focuses on challenges of international cooperation in dealing with health disparities, natural disasters, conflicts, global health interventions, and setting world health policies.
Santiago, Chile – Session I
Comparative Law (PSC/LAW, 300-level, 3 credits)
This course examines legal systems from around the world, how each society’s concept of and approach to justice is shaped by its respective history and culture. Topics include beyond Civil Law (in Latin America and Europe) and Anglo-American Common Law, compelling insights come from studying radically different legal traditions, including Islamic Law (Sharia), Talmudic (Jewish) Law, Indigenous/Customary Law (in Africa and the Americas), even Roma (Gypsy) law. An appreciation for these different systems’ cultural and historical foundations helps us see our own legal traditions and concepts of justice with more discerning eyes and informs more sensitive and constructive approaches to international justice.
Heredia, Costa Rica – Summer Session II; Puntarenas, Costa Rica- Summer Session I
Introduction to Tropical Conservation—Maintaining Biodiversity (BIOL, 200-level, 3 credits) This course has an additional fee for field trips.
The purpose of this course is to establish a basic knowledge of what the tropics are and their importance to all of us, discuss their present status and consider the remaining options regarding their future. An additional fee of $200 is required for this course.
Puntarenas, Costa Rica – Session I
Plants and People (BIOL, 300-level, 3 credits)
Plants play an integral role in shaping both the world we live in as well as our own human cultures. This course will explore both the basic biology of plants and our utilization of them for food, materials, fuels, medicines, and use for social purposes. Our study will increase your appreciation of the important role that plants play in the world – a view that is often overlooked. This class will include hands on interactions with plants in the classroom and natural setting.
San Ramon – Session I and II
Spanish for Medical Professionals (SPAN/WLL, 300-level, 2 credits, taught in Spanish) Prerequisite: four semesters of college Spanish.
This course will provide students with the knowledge of the basic structures of the Spanish language and the specialized medical vocabulary needed to communicate effectively with Spanish-speaking patients in a variety of health care situations. Moreover, an understanding and appreciation of cultural differences in the health perceptions of Spanish-speaking patients will be developed. This course is appropriate for all health-related disciplines.
La Habana, Cuba – Session I
Peoples and Cultures of Cuba and the Caribbean (ANTH/SPAN, 400-level, 3 credits, taught in Spanish)
Students will explore the socio-political systems and historical context of Cuba and the Caribbean. This course will present contemporary theoretical perspectives that express the complex socio-economic, cultural, and political reality of the area. Students will cover the recurring topics of culture and “race”; daily life; and religion within Cuba and the Caribbean. This course will analyze ways in which these themes are common to other Latin American colonial societies. Students will draw upon the works and anthropological thinking of Fernando Ortiz; Jean Price-Mars; and C.L.R. James. The goal of this course is to provide a general anthropological overview of Cuba and the Caribbean.
Czech Republic, Prague – Session II
Great Czech Writers (ENG, 400-level, 3 credits)
This course will explore the development of Czech literature in the modern era, from the National Revival to the present time. It will focus on the study of seminal texts by major Czech novelists of the twentieth century and on the representation of personal and historical experience in fiction. As well as primary texts – Hašek’s The Good Soldier Švejk, Kafka’s The Trial, Hrabal’s Too Loud a Solitude, Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Topol’s City Sister Silver City – the course will introduce students to a broad selection of Czech literature and explore the cultural and historical contexts of its production. The course will feature guest lectures by Czech authors.
Lyon, France – Session II
French Art and Architecture (ART, 200-level, 3 credits)
Lyon’s rich heritage allows us to offer an introduction to the history of the arts. In order to sensitize students to Culture and Arts, we will both have practical workshops, lectures and visits of museums. Throughout our multiple interventions, we are trying to emphasize on the commonalities existing between arts. Indeed, it seems important that students understand the connections that exist between arts of all time, connections that strengthened in the 20th century. This course will be about the arts throughout its issues, its breakdowns but also its continuities.
Pau, France – Session I
Environmental Geology of the Pyrenees (ENV/GEOL, 300-level, 1 credit)
Pau is located near the 300 km-long Pyrenees with numerous peaks higher than 3000 m. It is then a very nice opportunity to present a lecture combining natural example of Pyrenees, environmental studies and geology. This lecture is addressed to a wide range of students in all fields of sciences. Through four lectures, and a two-day field trip, we will observe and understand spectacular examples of climate change, risk hazard, and new paradigm of mountain building, taking advantage of the Pyrenees mountain belt.
Lüneburg, Germany – Session I
German Fairy Tales (ENG/GER, 300-level, 1 credit, taught in German)
Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, and the Bremen Town Musicians are world famous. This course offers an introduction to the Fairy tales collected in the 18th and 19th century by the Grimm Brothers. Students will read several of the Grimm’s fairy tales as well a review core grammar topics using fairy tale based vocabulary and context. Taught in German.
Introduction to the Folklore and Ethnology of Cork (ANTH, 200-level, 3 credits)
This course provides the visiting student with a stimulating introduction to the humanistic discipline of folklore through an examination of the popular pastime of storytelling examined from both a traditional and contemporary perspective. While the initial focus of these lectures will look at the importance of face-to-face verbal interaction in olden times, attention will be paid to similar elements and themes used in the context of informal sessions nowadays. There will be further discussion on the way certain elements of these stories are also reflective of the changing social, economic and technological landscape. A continuous emphasis on all forms of communication stratagems such as verbal skills, accents, dialects, idioms and expressions as well as distinctive body-language will be a recurring theme throughout all of the lectures.
Introduction to the Gaelic Language (WLL, 100-level, 3 credits)
The Irish language (Gaelige) has both a rich history and a strong ongoing presence in contemporary Irish society. Over the millennia, it has played a crucial role in shaping Irish identity and culture. Today, Galway and NUIG play important roles in sustaining and preserving the rich scholarly and artistic legacies of the Gaelic language and draw greatly from the vitality of the language in the nearby gaeltacht (or Irish-speaking) regions of Connemara and the Aran Islands. This course is meant to give you a better sense of that linguistic heritage and provide opportunities for richer contacts with the Irish-language speakers, performances, and aspects of every-day life one encounters around Galway. The class will provide a basic introduction to the structure of the language with the aim of developing some elementary conversational, grammar and reading skills in modern Irish. Classroom practice will be supplemented by class outings to sites such as the Irish language theatre, An Taibhdhearc, the Connemara Gaeltacht, and the studios of TG4, the Irish-language television station (depending on availability). You might even get addicted to TG4’s Irish-language soap opera, Ros Na Rún!
Reggio Emilia, Italy – Session I and II
Italian/International Educational Approaches: Reggio and Montessori (EDU/HDFS, 400-level, 3 credits)
The aim of the course is to discuss international education approaches with a main focus on the two major ones related to childhood education (pre-K, K, elementary): Montessori and Reggio. This course introduces participants to the experience of the city of Reggio Emilia, in northern Italy, in designing and sustaining infant-toddler centers and schools for children ages 3-6 that have astonished the world with the children’s competence.
Torino and Verona Italy – Session II
International Marketing (MKT, 400-level, 3 credits) Prerequisite: Introductory course in marketing.
Using the city as a living laboratory, students will build an understanding of global marketing strategy to describe customers, understand markets, and make marketing mix decisions. Topics include a comparative analysis of political, social, cultural, technological, economic, ethics, legal, and political aspects of international marketing and how they interact with the market mix.
Verona, Italy – Session II
Roman Art and Architecture: Verona and Veneto Region (ART/ARCH/HP, 400-level, 3 credits)
This class focuses on the history of Roman art and architecture: styles, techniques, materials and methods, from the Etruscan Rome, through the Republic, the Age of Augustus, the Empire and the late ‘decadence’, including art and architecture of the Provinces.
Viterbo, Italy – Session II
From Saints to Selfies: Documentary Photography (ART/HP/JOUR/PHOTO, 300-level, 3 credits)
This course analyzes the visual paths that created our collective identity through the study of the “culture of the gaze” (Western), to finally arrive to the historical moment in which we live, strongly marked by the images. Each image, without distinction, is in respect of the memory more effective than the word, making it a fundamental tool for the documentation of cultural assets.
The Holocaust: Twentieth-Century Jewish Studies (HIST/SOC, 400-level, 3 credits)
This course covers the history of Jewish communities in Central Europe since the 12th century. However, it focuses mainly on 20th century events: the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the evolution of succession states and the condition of Jews in each of them, the spread of fascism in Europe and the post-war situation. We will also focus on particular aspects of modern Jewish thought and post-Holocaust theology, the relationship between Judaism and Christianity after the Holocaust and historical aspects of Jewish Poland and Central European Jewry. We will also delve into the “Philosophy of Judaism”, and reflect on such luminaries as the American religious thinker Abraham Jehoschua Heschel, philosophers of traditional Judaism, like Buber, Rosenzweig as well as Karl Marx and the French philosopher Jacques Derrida.
Alicante, Spain – Session I and II
Spanish Grammar and Composition for Heritage Speakers I (SPAN, 300-level, 3 credits, Session I only)
This course is designed to give native or heritage Spanish speakers the opportunity to study the conventions of the Spanish language and to improve their academic writing skills. It provides an overview of the local varieties of the language, emphasizing the idea that there are all equally acceptable and focusing on Spanish as a global language.
Bilbao/Getxo, Spain – Session II
Global Entrepreneurship (BUS/MGT, 400-level, 3 credits)
This course in entrepreneurship provides a point of entry into the global entrepreneurial community. Open to students and community members alike, the course provides opportunities for mentorship and valuable understanding of the key characteristics that successful global entrepreneurs tend to possess. The course discusses the challenges of global entrepreneurship and the opportunities for it in today’s world—a world in which the economic and cultural context is rapidly changing. We begin with an overview of these changes, as well as descriptions of the challenges in the rapidly growing and changing major markets. The course will discuss different approaches to global entrepreneurship, the influences of macro forces, such as economic trends, cultural issues, political and regulatory environments, and other issues. Finally, varying political, economic, regulatory, cultural, and religious environments and their effects on global entrepreneurship will be discussed.
Madrid, Spain – Session II
Intercultural Communication (COM, 300-level, 1 credit)
This course is designed to introduce students to the concepts, principles, and theories related to intercultural communication. Cultural patterns, such as value orientations and dimensions of cultural variability, will be emphasized to promote a nuanced understanding of cultural differences and similarities. The goals of this course are for students to develop a basic understanding of intercultural communication concepts, to be able to apply them in intercultural contexts, and to create an awareness of the existence and influence of multiple cultural perspectives on the communication process.
San Sebastián, Spain – Session I
Basque Language and Culture (ANTH/BASQ/WLL, 300-level, 3 credits, taught in English)
This course will touch on the history and evolution of one of the oldest languages in the world, the mythology and symbolism of the Basques, their traditions and culture. General notions of the language will be presented, explaining why this language is of such interest today to linguists and anthropologists. Basic conversational Basque skills will be studied and students will have the opportunity outside of class to interview and practice with local native speakers.
Valencia, Spain – Session I and II
Differential Equations (MATH, 200-level, 3 credits)
This course focuses on theory and solving techniques for: constant and variable coefficient linear equations, a variety of non-linear equations. Emphasis on those differential equations arising from real-world phenomena.
Chiang Mai, Thailand – Session II
International Organizational Behavior (BUS, 300-level, 3 credits)
This course exposes students to the interpersonal aspects of working internationally. As the world becomes more globalized, it becomes increasingly important for students to recognize and develop skills that will help them to succeed when working with diverse colleagues and internationally. Topics include cultural values, individual differences, communication, teamwork, and leadership in an international context. Students will learn concepts in an experiential learning environment which includes video, case studies, self-assessments, role playing, and in-class exercises. A portion of the class will be focused on self-development; students will begin to understand their current global mindsets and how they can develop them.
Khon Kaen, Thailand – Session I
Aging Well: The Sociocultural Context of Healthcare Systems (CHS/HDFS/SOC, 400-level, 3 credits)
This course will explore the sociocultural challenges of an aging population in both a global and Thai context. Topics include: the 2nd National Plan on the Elderly (2002-2021), the roles of social capital and quality of life; health problems and needs of Thailand’s elderly; and the harmonizing roles of family, community and health service systems in providing eldercare and addressing long-term care needs.
USAC offers courses in more than 35 countries for summer study abroad. Most programs have between one and two sessions for summer study abroad and you can choose to take multiple sessions and mix and match sessions. Most summer session one deadlines are around April 1 and summer session two around May 1. However, deadlines can vary by location so check the USAC website for specific program deadlines.