FAQs

Everything You Want to Know About Our COED Study Abroad Program

Do you want to experience educational systems abroad? Do you want to learn or practice Spanish? Do you want to find a way to fit a study abroad experience into your busy life as a double-major? Then join us for our annual month-long study abroad experience, “Education in the Americas.” Need more information before applying? Check out the answers to Frequently Asked Questions below. If you still have questions, email the program leader, Dr. Gibson.

“Every education student should be required to go on this program! It’s life-changing.” — 2018 participant
My sentiments exactly.87

Who can come on the trip?

Any Marquette student, although you should have an interest in education. Most participants are in our teacher preparation programs or pursuing an Educational Studies major or minor.

Do I have to speak Spanish?

No. While Spanish is definitely helpful, it’s not required. The program is designed to accommodate even those with no Spanish background. In week 1, you’ll get some language training at our university partner to learn some subject specific vocabulary. Throughout our time in Lima, you’ll have opportunities to participate in intercambios with university students who are learning English. When our field experiences are not themselves bilingual (English/Spanish) settings, we either have a translator from the university who travels with us, or Dr. Gibson translates. Honestly, you will be amazed at how quickly you pick up survival Spanish! But you have to be willing to try.

What courses do we take, and who teaches them?

Our program counts for two required courses for Education & Educational Studies majors: EDUC 4240/Critical Inquiry into Contemporary Issues and EDUC 4540/Philosophy of Education. The courses are combined into a six-credit, experience-based course called “Education in the Americas,” where we engage in comparative analysis of the diverse contexts, policies, and philosophies of education in Peru and the US. The seminar portion of the course is taught by a Marquette faculty member (in 2019, Dr. Gibson), although all of the educators we meet and work with in Peru are also your teachers.

Where do we stay?

In Lima, students are housed with host families in the Pueblo Libre neighborhood where our university partner, Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya, is located. Pueblo Libre is a residential, middle-class neighborhood in central Lima. Host families are typically experienced at welcoming American university students, and there is often someone in the family who is retired or who works from home and thus is able to tend to you. Students stay with at least with one other Marquette student, and possibly more. When a host family does not speak English, we make sure that at least one of the students living there has some language proficiency. When we travel to the Cusco region, we stay in tourist hotels in Aguas Calientes and Cusco city; in the small town of Andahuaylillas, we stay in a parish retreat center. All accommodations are included in the program fee.

What do we do for the month?

Our program includes significant field experiences as well as regular seminar meetings. For the first week of the program, we are based at Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya, our Jesuit university partner in Lima. This week is designed to give us a bird’s eye view of education and inequality in Peru: we have guest lectures, language classes, and visits to various Jesuit social projects (like PEBAL and SEA) around Lima trying to attend to the needs of low-income and marginalized citizens. During the first week, we also begin working closely with Encuentros, a social project in El Agustino where we end up playing a lot of soccer with neighborhood kids throughout our three weeks in Lima. Week 2 is spent at La Inmaculada, a private Jesuit school serving middle- and upper-class students; we also continue working in El Agustino. Week 3 is spent at a public school in Lima. Your weekends in Lima are mostly free for you to explore, sleep, and eat all the ceviche you can handle. We then fly to Cusco, and travel up to a small town called Andahuaylillas, where we have a field experience with a Fé y Alegría school, a public/private partnership, that serves Andean and Quechua-speaking students. The remainder of our time in Peru is spent exploring the Sacred Valley: Pisac, Ollantaytambo, and Machu Picchu.

Will I have homework?

Yes. You will have readings and seminars on most weekdays, although we try to build time into your days for you to do the readings so that your evenings can be free to spend with your host families. You also will keep a blog while you’re traveling that serves as a reflection on your in-country experience. When you return home, you’ll have a final project to complete. Remember, this is a six-credit course!

How much does the program cost?

In summer 2018, the program fee was $2300. In addition, students purchase their own airfare (typically $700–$1000) and pay tuition for six credits. The 2019 program will likely be similar in cost.

That’s a lot of money. What’s included?

Almost everything! The program fee includes all in-country transportation (airport pick-ups, private coach to our field sites, airfare to Cusco, train to Machu Picchu), all accommodations, almost all of your meals, and entrance fees to cultural events that are part of the academic program, such as our visit to Machu Picchu. It also includes the cost for academic expenses such as the use of wifi on campus, tour guides, guest lectures, seminar space rental, etc.

How much spending money will I need?

That’s hard to say. It depends a lot on you and your taste and budget. Many students have reported that they spent about $300 out-of-pocket beyond their program fee. This is for things like souvenirs, unplanned excursions, eating out, and taxis. If you are a big spender, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to spend more, but most people in Peru live on what Americans would consider to be a small budget. If you don’t want to spend a lot, you don’t have to.

I receive financial aid. Can I still go on the trip?

You are encouraged to talk to your financial aid advisor. There are ways for financial aid to be applied to this program.

I’m a vegetarian/gluten-avoider/vegan. Will I be able to eat?

Yes, but the options may be limited. There are always rice, potatoes, avocados, and fruit. Your host family will be alerted to your dietary needs and should be accommodating with their breakfasts and dinners. You can also do some research ahead of time to find out where there are good spots to eat or grocery shop in Lima for your particular dietary need. But most of all, we recommend bringing a month’s supply of Kind Bars or other filling, protein-y snack to get you through the moments when pickings may be slim.

Am I going to get sick? Is the food and water safe?

Your best bet is to check out what the CDC has to say about health in Peru. In general, if you take precautions — such as drinking only bottled water, not eating uncooked vegetables, only eating uncooked fruits that have a think skin, washing your hands frequently, only eating well-cooked meats, and getting all recommended vaccinations before you leave — you lower your risk of getting sick. If you do get sick, through our university partner and our home stays, we have easy access to medical care.

Is Lima safe? Is Peru safe?

You can find official information on travel and safety from the US Department of State. Lima is a big city, and so you will face many of the same challenges that you do in Milwaukee or Chicago. You will be encouraged to use city street smarts: travel in groups, know where you’re going, don’t walk through unknown neighborhoods after dark, keep your belongings close to you, etc. Traffic in Peru is a challenge, and so as a pedestrian, you have to be extra alert in order to cross streets safely. Our neighborhood in Lima is a residential, middle-class area, and you are staying close to the university. We also have private bus transportation that takes us to all of our field experiences, and we always visit field experiences with someone who works in the community and acts as our guide.

Will I have free time?

Yes. In Lima, the program is designed so that your evenings and weekends are free, with the exception of Saturday mornings when we play soccer in El Agustino. We will often suggest or organize activities that you may choose to join. You can also do your own thing, or stay at your host family and relax. Remember, on the weekends, all your meals are included at your host family. Once we go to Cusco, your free time is less consistent, although you will have time to explore the city on your own.

Since this is a faculty-led, MU program, does that mean we’re going to be in an American bubble?

No! You stay with local families in Lima. We interact regularly with university students at UARM, several of whom will essentially spend the whole month with us. We will usually be the only Americans at our field experiences, where we’ll be working closely with local kids and educators. We have organized intercambios and meals with UARM students. However, when we travel to Cusco, we will be a much more insular group.

Are there other MU students in Peru at this time?

Yes! It looks like the College of Nursing will be running a parallel program to us, and we will be working together to find interdisciplinary opportunities. You may end up sharing a homestay with a nursing student.

I’ve never been out of the country. Is this too adventurous for me?

Not at all! Our first group had several students new to international travel, and they had a fantastic time. The program is designed such that you should feel supported at all times.

I want to go to graduation, though. Can I still study abroad?

Yes! This year, we will depart on Monday, May 20, 2019, with programming beginning in Lima on Tuesday, May 21, 2019.

I have to work during the summer. Doesn’t that make participating impossible?

Not necessarily. We return home from Peru on Sunday, June 16, 2019. In past summers, most students have gone on to work summer jobs in Milwaukee or their hometown without a problem. As long as you can finish your final project while you are employed, there is nothing about the course preventing you from working once you return to the US.

I have to take other classes this summer, too. How will that work?

Marquette’s Summer Session 2 begins after we return from Peru. In addition, many students have taken on-line classes during the summer, some of which overlapped with our time in Peru. They simply made their own time to complete work for that course.

I want to stay and travel after the program ends. Can I do that?

While we recommend that students arrive and depart on the same days, it is ultimately up to you and your family to decide.

How do I apply?

The application is through Marquette University’s Office of International Education. Typically, the application opens around January 1, and applications are due by February 1. For more information on the application process, consult the Office of International Education.

How can we plan our schedules if we don’t hear if we’re accepted until spring semester has already started? What if I’m not accepted? Then how will I take those required courses?

Students are always nervous about this. In the past, we’ve been a very small group, and everyone who applied was able to go. If you’re nervous about your application due to past grades or disciplinary problems, please talk to Dr. Gibson before scheduling your spring semester. In general, though, it’s less likely that you wouldn’t be accepted than it is our group would be too small. The program requires six students in order to run. So drum up some interest among your friends to make sure we have enough students to go to Peru!