By KYLE MCDANIEL
Traveling the world and becoming immersed in a new culture while studying for your major is an amazing experience of which you could be a part.
Daisy Rodriguez-Pitel, associate director of global engagement and student services, is the person to contact if you are interested. Before applying, make sure you have a GPA of at least 2.5, no code of conduct problems and no unpaid balances.
“There are different ways they can apply for a study abroad program … students can make an appointment with me, where I will ask them to complete a study abroad interest form,” she said. “To figure out what they are interested in studying and to learn a little bit of demographic information about them.”
A common misconception about studying abroad is that it will be like taking a trip.
“It is important for me to emphasize that study abroad is not a vacation,” Rodriguez-Pitel said. “It is an embedded part of a class and you can receive credits depending on the course.”
If you’re worried about anything happening to you while abroad, Pima and the program will prepare you. There will be a series of pre-departure meetings, where they will make copies of your passport should you lose it.
“Our office also registers them through the State Department, so they are aware that we have U.S. citizens in another country, also PCC provides health insurance should anything happen,” she said.
There is also a faculty member that travels with the group and is prepared to help.
“We try to anticipate as many things as possible,” Rodriguez-Pitel said. “We developed an emergency handbook that we give to the faculty member going which has 20 different scenarios of something that could happen.”
One of the downsides to study abroad is you don’t get to sleep in your own bed, but the program gets you as close as possible.
“For instance, in summer 2018 we are offering a literature class in the United Kingdom, and those students will stay on campus at York St. John University in residence halls, which is really cool because the residence halls look like castles,” Rodriguez-Pitel said.
It can be scary trying something new, but you never know how much you might enjoy it. Take the six students that traveled to China for four months last year.
“Several of the students when they got back to Pima came and spoke to me to find multiple ways to continue practicing their Mandarin,” she said. “Two of those students joined the Chinese Language Culture Club, and they also serve as conversation partners to Chinese students.”
In the three years Rodriguez-Pitel has been associate director, the program has grown extensively. Her goal is to make the experience more affordable.
“We recognize that community college students come from varying levels of income and have a variety of different responsibilities,” she said.
However, everything is different for each program, but they try to take care of everything with a one-time fee.
“These are Pima classes, so they have to pay for the course, and each of these opportunities has a different program fee depending on the location, time of year, airfare and the accommodations,” she said. “For instance, the art in Mexico class this past summer was $1,750, which included airfare, accommodations, most of their food, all of their tours and excursions they did for the two weeks.”
Rodriguez-Pitel has high hopes for the program as well.
“We really want to grow the program to where in the future hopefully 25 percent of our population at Pima are participating in the study abroad program,” she said.
“I would just like to emphasize that this is a great opportunity for Pima students to expand their worldview and to challenge themselves to do something that is going to transform their lives.”