America is a made up of a lot of ethnicities, the second largest of which is Hispanic and Latino Americans. That’s why in 1988, the government made National Hispanic Heritage Month an official observation. Every year from September 15 to October 15, Americans celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of the Hispanic community and their ancestors.
One of the best ways to celebrate any ethnicity is through studying abroad. Students who are interested in further educating themselves on Hispanic heritage and culture have a variety of opportunities with a study abroad through USAC.
#1. Learn the language
Did you know that 17% of people speak Spanish? This makes Spanish the second-most spoken language in the world.
Needless to say, it’s a language worth learning, and you can earn up to two-years of college language Spanish credits in one semester abroad with USAC. This is possible through intensive language tracks that allow you to progress through the language curriculum at an elevated pace. USAC has 10 programs where you can take Spanish language classes.
- Alicante, Spain
- Bilbao/Getxo, Spain
- Heredia, Costa Rica
- Madrid, Spain
- Montevideo, Uruguay
- Puntarenas, Costa Rica
- San Ramon, Costa Rica
- San Sebastián, Spain
- Santiago, Chile
- Valencia, Spain
#2. Take additional Hispanic heritage related classes
If learning a new language isn’t on your to-dos, or if you want to enhance your language learning, USAC offers a variety of Hispanic heritage related courses across our Latin America and Spain programs.
This is just a sample of courses that are available, visit the USAC website and navigate to the courses section of your preferred country to see an updated list of available courses. Most of the below courses are offered in a variety of locations.
- Track 3 for Heritage Speakers – A Spanish language track geared towards heritage speakers who need assistance with writing and grammar. *(Only offered in Alicante, Spain)
- Hispanic Socio-linguistics and Multilingualism
- Survey of Spanish Literature
- Twentieth Century and Contemporary Spanish Theatre
- Spanish Culture and Civilization
- Spanish Cuisine and the Mediterranean Diet
- Twentieth Century and Contemporary Latin American Poetry
- Latin America and its Cultures
- Dances of Latin America
- Twentieth Century and Contemporary Latin American Cinema
- Survey of Latin American Literature
- Rio de la Plata – People and Culture
#3. Participate in Relevant Field Studies
A field study is a field trip that is offered during your study abroad term that you can earn academic credit on. You complete additional academic requirements, like keeping a journal or engaging in on-site discussions, and earn credit towards your academic load. Field studies are open to all students and you can choose to participate as a field study or a field trip. The field trip does not earn credit.
To get a real-life taste of Hispanic heritage and culture, opt to participate in one of the following field studies during your study abroad.
Latin America and its Cultures Field Study
Available in Heredia & Puntarenas Costa Rica
The course aims to provide you with inside knowledge of the socio-cultural perspective of Costa Rica in Spanish America. The “field trips” focus to visit sites of archaeological, cultural and social where you can interact and observe the country’s cultural evolution.
Cuba Field Study – History and Society
Available in Heredia, Puntarenas, and San Ramon, Costa Rica
Travel to Old Habana, one of the best-preserved colonial Spanish complexes in the Americas. Walking tours, museum visits, and guest lectures coupled with cultural activities and meals will provide you the opportunity to interact with Cubans and learn firsthand their perspective of our common histories.
Rio de la Plata Field Study
Available in Montevideo, Uruguay
Explore the three major influences of the Rio de la Plata region – European, Afro-Descendients, and Guachos. Visit their sites to see how they maintain their roots and how they come together as one nation. The study will also explore the cultural aspects of the Uruguayan people including Tango, Candombe, and Mate traditions.
Santiago Field Study
Available in Bilbao/Getxo, Spain
On the Santiago Tour/Field Study, you will hike the last 70 miles of the medieval pilgrim path of Santiago over five days. The Camino de Santiago is a spiritual journey that pilgrims of all faiths and backgrounds have traversed for over a thousand years. You will experience this truly unique, introspective journey while learning more about Spain’s history and culture.
Andalucía Field Study
Available in Madrid, Spain
Andalucía is a fascinating place for its spectacular Moorish monuments, beautiful white hill towns, sparkling blue coast and natural beauty of its mountainous country. This region is made up of eight provinces, all of which have their own unique culture and traditions. You’ll explore Granada, Cordoba, and Sevilla. Some of the group activities include going to a flamenco show, touring the famous Alhambra and visiting a unique mosque-cathedral.
Northern Chile Field Study
Available in Santiago, Chile
This study includes excursions to the village of San Pedro, near the Atacama salt flats and the Andes mountains, as well as the oasis towns of Toconao, Camar, and Socaire; visits to the archaeological museum and sites of the native Atacama culture, with its Inca and Spanish influences; guided excursions to the magnificent national parks of Moon Valley, Flamingo Lagoons in the Atacama salt flats, and the Andean Antiplain Lakes; a night astronomical session in the Atacama Desert; an exploration of the protected ecological area of the Cactus Valley; and a refreshing visit to the Puritama thermal baths.
Southern Chile Field Study
Available in Santiago, Chile
This study includes visits to Puerto Montt and the fishing port of Angelmó with its traditional markets; the famous ferry crossing to Chiloe Island, the second biggest island in South America with traditional mixed European and native culture; tours of the famed wooden churches of Chiloe, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the magical little island of Aucar and the attractive Puñihuil Natural Penguin Reserve; Puerto Varas and the lakes, rapids, and rain forests of the Llanquihue Region with its stunning volcanic panorama. The trip also introduces you to the typical small towns of the German colonization and a refreshing visit to the Aguas Calientes thermal baths.
Barcelona Field Study
Available in Valencia, Spain
Cataluña is the region occupying the northeastern part of the Iberian Peninsula. It has a strong national identity, with a unique culture and language all its own, and with six million inhabitants, it is the second most populated region in Spain. Flanked by the Pyrenees Mountains and bathed by the Mediterranean Sea, it is home to some of the most popular destinations in Spain—most notably its capital city, Barcelona. During the four-day tour you will stay at the center of the oldest part of the city. This will be your launch pad to see UNESCO World Heritage sites like the massive Sagrada Familia, feast at a picnic in nearby Girona, ramble through the cobblestone streets of Barrio Gotico, and feel the mist from a city boat tour.
#4. Immerse Yourself
There’s no better way to learn about the history and culture of a country and its people than through directly immersing with the locals. USAC offers a variety of ways to immerse yourself in local culture during your study abroad.
Choose to live with a host family during your study abroad. You’ll reside in a local family’s home where you’ll eat meals together, converse, and become a part of their daily routine and family life.
Connect with a local buddy to practice your language skills. Local buddies often help students learn about the best spots around town and become good friends with students.
Take your experience or start building new experience in the local culture through volunteer and internships. Opportunities range from teaching in local schools to working at local companies, non-profits, hospitals, and more.
You don’t have to wait until Hispanic Heritage Month to celebrate Hispanic culture through study abroad. No matter when you study abroad, take advantage of the variety of opportunities to learn about Hispanic heritage or the heritage of the country you’re studying in. If you’re inspired to jumpstart your study abroad journey, deadlines for most Spring/January programs are November 1 and Fall/Summer programs are between March and April, so find your ideal program and apply today!