5 Things I Learned While Studying and Teaching Abroad

Orlando Kelm
Spanish and Portuguese
At UT [25 years]

Study Abroad Program: Salvador, Bahia (faculty-led)
Years leading Program: MBA Global trips — 7 times in Chile, Brazil and China; faculty trips and summer programs — at least 9 times in Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Venezuela and Peru

1. It is nice to experience things with people who are seeing them for the first time. After years of travelling or living in another country, we sometimes stop noticing what we once thought was cool. When I am with people who are experiencing a place for the first time, it brings back the memories and emotions of what it was like for me in those early days, too.

2. There is a huge satisfaction to being able to do tasks in another language: buying food, getting transportation, meeting new friends, seeing the sights. The challenge of doing all of that in a new language is exciting, and it is equally exciting to see students do the same.

3. I try to never stop observing and looking for examples of things that make being abroad different. I look at everything as a photo op. This forces me to have fresh eyes, with a focus on observing cultural differences, which is why we go abroad in the first place. Usually I also carry a little notebook around with me, to jot down new observations, phrases, signs or things that I hear people say.

4. The world of social media has changed the way we experience time abroad. Students are just as connected with home as they would be here in Austin. There are positives and negatives to that, but it is something we cannot ignore. By the way, be prepared for being part of thousands of pictures, videos, posts, Tweets and uploads.

5. Time with local people beats time in a classroom any day. Time on the streets beats time in the seats. Get out of the classroom and get into the mix of daily life abroad! 

Jane Champion
School of Nursing
At UT [25 years]

Study Abroad Program: nursing classes in Mexico and Vietnam

I have actually taught in Mexico since 2001 at the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon in Monterrey, Mexico. I began work with the university to develop the "first" nursing doctoral program in Mexico. I travelled to Monterrey over these years to develop the curriculum with faculty from Columbia, Spain, Mexico and the U.S. It took about three years to develop the curriculum and then I taught in the program in Monterrey for three years; I managed this by travelling to Mexico and teaching on Saturdays! There were many students in the program who were from South America in addition to Mexico. I have continued work with doctoral students from this program and am presently working with individuals on projects concerning the sexual health of women in Monterrey.

My work in Vietnam has been on-going since 2009. I work through a group called Friendship Bridge Nurses ... the group is a non-profit organization and participation is volunteer. The group was conceived to help promote nursing and healthcare in Vietnam. Friendship Bridge Nurses started the first BSN program for nurses in Vietnam and now since 2009 we have implemented the first masters in nursing program in Vietnam at the Ho Chi Minh University of Medicine and Pharmacy. I am teaching the research course and am an advisor for theses.

These experiences are immersion, in that I spend dedicated amounts of time in each country teaching courses either in Spanish (Mexico) or with an interpreter (Vietnam). The differences in cultures in nursing, professional education, research and clinical practice have captured my enthusiasm for study abroad for U.S. students. Although a different paradigm as professor teaching students in another country versus students learning in another country, the experiences in immersion are similar. Both opportunities have led to collaborations in research and education and promotion of the professional practice of nursing internationally. 

Dale Koike
Spanish and Portuguese
At UT [29 years]

Study Abroad Program: Language and Culture in Spain
Years leading Program: second year in this site (Santander), with previous experience leading program in Cadiz, Spain for two years

1. Everything takes longer, so have a lot of patience.

2. We are spoiled in the U.S. by the facilities and infrastructure for teaching, so don't expect the same conditions.

3. People spend more time in Europe eating out and visiting with friends, so embrace the lifestyle while you can.

4. Try anything new twice.

5. People are generally great and welcoming.