The Study Abroad in Bilbao programme Universidad de Mary Washington (MWU) is being held for the tenth time this year. To mark the occasion, we interviewed Dr. Jose Angel Sainz, Director of Center for International Education and head of the Mary Washington programme in Bilbao.
How did the programme first begin?
When I joined MWU, the Spanish programme held in Mexico was not meeting expectations and was at a bit of a stalemate. All good language departments need quality Spanish language programmes abroad to help students learn in the actual country and round off what they learn in the classroom.
Why hold a study abroad programme in Bilbao?
Bilbao is a pleasant city, actually beautiful too. It is large enough to offer a variety of activities and has the advantages of a big city while also being manageable for students.
How does studying in Bilbao affect students’ lives?
Several years after participating in the different types of programmes in Bilbao, students still share their experiences on Facebook and contact us to let us know how there was a “before” and “after” Bilbao in their lives and that it was one of their best experiences during the years at MWU and in their lives. That goes for the academic as well as the personal factors. Being able to study in situ is a priceless experience.
Mary Washington University is an hour by car from Washington, D.C. and Richmond, the capital of Virginia. There are about 4,000 students at the Fredericksburg campus from 40 states and different foreign countries. Approximately 60% of our students live on campus at one of the dorms. (MWU)
How many students are on the programme this year?
32 are on the programme this summer.
What are the future prospects for the programme?
Better than ever. The language, culture and business programmes are up and running and we are expanding to create the Interdisciplinary Program. We are excited about promoting our programs and eager to encourage students from other majors to sign on and spend the summer (or a semester) with us. The programme is called Spain for all, and that’s what it is. We are also offering internships and opportunities to do community service so students not only learn and perfect their Spanish but take steps forward personally and academically….
Scene at Mary Washington University
The photograph of the T-shirt is courtesy of MWU. Dr. Sainz’s photograph was taken from the MWU webpage.