International Languages and Cultures majors , as well as any students of a foreign language, are strongly encouraged to spend time abroad. Living abroad enables you to gain fluency and confidence in the foreign language. It also allows you to develop a familiarity with a particular foreign culture that comes from the acquaintanceships and friendships formed by sharing daily living concerns over an extended period of time in one place.
There are several ways in which you can live and study abroad, either for a year, which is the ideal, for a semester, or, if you cannot be away for longer, during the summer or a semester break.
I. You can enroll in short programs directed by St. Mary's faculty as they are offered, such as the Berlin Program for students of German (see Dr. Anne Leblans). Credit is given directly by SMCM in the form of a grade.
II. You can enroll for a semester or for a year abroad with an SMCM partner institution:
- Fudan University in Shanghai for students of Chinese (see Dr. Jingqi Fu)
- The University of Heidelberg in Heidelberg, Germany for students of German (see Dr. Anne Leblans)
- The University of Bordeaux for students of French or a variety of majors (see Dr. Laine Doggett)
- The Institut des Etudes Politiques ("Sciences Po") in Paris, for students of French and history or one of the social sciences (see Dr. Katie Gantz)
- The Institute for Central American Development Studies (ICADS) for students of Spanish or a variety of majors (see Dr. Jorge Rogachevsky)
- The SMCM Program in Buenos Aires, Argentina for students of Spanish or a variety of majors (see Dr. Joanna Bartow)
For these programs you pay St. Mary's College tuition and credit is granted by St. Mary's College in the form of a grade.
III. You can enroll in programs directed by faculty or staff of another U.S. college or university. There are hundreds of these programs, but not all of them are of equally high quality and seriousness. You should first consult with your International Languages and Cultures advisor/professor. After talking with your professor, you can research other possibilities with the Office of International Education. You pay the tuition of the sponsoring U.S. college or university, which transfers your credit to St. Mary's College as credit/no credit rather than a grade.
IV. You can enroll yourself directly in a foreign university. Most foreign universities have their own programs especially designed for international students. These programs usually offer courses in the host country's language and civilization, and they provide foreign students with housing information, academic and social advising, social activities and cultural excursions. By choosing this route you can save yourself the considerable expense of paying the tuition fees of a U.S. college or university, because foreign universities, being government supported, usually charge nominal tuition fees. The disadvantages are that there is nobody to meet you at the airport and to help you to feel relatively "at home" right away. Also, to obtain SMCM credit, you must remain in close contact throughout your stay abroad with your St. Mary's College faculty sponsor/ professor(s) and submit syllabi and all work and exams completed abroad for evaluation and assignment of SMCM independent study credit. You should consult with both your International Languages and Cultures' advisor/professor, and with the Office of International Education, while you research these possibilities.
V. You can undertake an internship. You can gain work experience abroad through an internship and earn variable academic credit by completing, under the supervision of a foreign sponsor and a St. Mary's faculty advisor, an academic project of variable scope. You should consult with both your International Languages and Cultures' advisor/professor, and with the Internship Office, while you research these possibilities.
VI. You can engage in au pair work. This option offers you perhaps the most assured way of becoming bilingual and of experiencing intimately a foreign culture. It is also the cheapest solution because you can support yourself financially during your year abroad. You live with a family (usually one that values education and exposing its children to people from other cultures) and in exchange for helping with the care and education of the children and with light household tasks, you receive transatlantic travel expenses, room, board, in most cases a small monthly stipend, and time off in the week for taking classes. The term "au pair" means that you are regarded not as a servant but "on a par" with all the family members, and it is understood that you are there primarily to learn. To receive independent study credit, you must take a course or courses offered at a nearby university or "community college" or complete a project. In either case you need to work long-distance with a St. Mary's faculty advisor if you want to earn some independent study credit, as opposed to taking a year leave of absence.
In all of the above cases, before you study abroad, you should consult with an ILC faculty member about your goals and then with the Office of International Education. You will also need to attend orientation sessions and go through formal procedures established by the Office of International Education.
International Languages and Culture students
at a study abroad orientation.