- 18 years of age or above
- Good academic and disciplinary standing at Penn State
- 2.5 cumulative GPA or better at the time of application
- Sophomore standing or above at the start of the program
- In the Spring semester prior to departure, all students are required to take a 6-week preparatory online/on-campus pre-departure course, CI 297: Building Interculturality: Language, Cultures & Communities (1 credit). Please contact faculty leaders for details.
- There is no prerequisite or minimum level of Spanish or Zapotec language proficiency for the non-English language medium instruction components of the course; participants will be taught according to their level and linguistic needs.
This program features a four-week Maymester study abroad experience in Oaxaca, Mexico for Penn State undergraduates from all campuses, schools, and fields of study. Through a local partnership with Mexican university, La Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca (UABJO), the program develops equity-minded and social justice dispositions, leadership, and advocacy skills through classroom and community-based experiential learning. Students will experience multilingual and multicultural life residing and sharing daily meals in Mexican family homes and receive instruction in a local language of their choice (Spanish or Zapotec). They will have the unique opportunity to participate in class sessions, collaborative projects, and experiential learning with Mexican university student partners. To prepare for the abroad experience, program participants complete a Spring (half-semester) online/on-campus (some weekends) hybrid course.
For the summer 2020 iteration of this program, special funding is available through the Equal Opportunity Planning Commission (EOPC) grant that has been awarded to the leaders of this program. To be considered for grant funding, you must complete the EOPC grant questions as part of the program admission application on this website.
Summer: The travel component of the Oaxaca program is not scheduled to run in summer 2021, but virtual offerings are planned! Please check back for more details as they become available.
Program Leader Information
- Dr. Elizabeth Smolcic - Associate Professor of Education (Second Language Education)
- Dr. Uju Anya - Assistant Professor of Education (Second Language Education)
- Dr. Daniela Martin - Associate Professor (Psychology), Penn State Brandywine
All students will be enrolled in CI 497: Building Interculturality: Language, Cultures & Communities (2 credit) in the Spring and CI 497: Boundary Work in Oaxaca, Mexico: Experiences in Multilingualism, Indigenous Knowledge, and Intercultural Exchange (2 credits) for the onsite summer course.
- CI 497: Building Interculturality: Language, Cultures & Communities - SPRING (2 credit)
- This course will run Spring semester, March 22 – May 1, 2020 (6 weeks) with weekend sessions April 11 and April 25/26 at University Park campus. Please contact faculty leaders for details.
- CI 497: Maymester in Mexico: Language, Culture and Community-Based Learning - SUMMER (2 credits)
- This interdisciplinary course offered onsite in Oaxaca will touch on many areas of study, including (but not limited to) anthropology, women’s studies, immigration, sociology, sustainability of language, culture and the natural world. The focus will be on hands-on experiential learning that takes place directly in and collaborating with indigenous and Afro-Mexican communities for social justice, leadership, advocacy, bilingual education, interculturality, and awareness of race/racism and border/migration issues. There is no prerequisite or minimum level of Spanish or Zapotec language proficiency for the non-English language medium instruction components of the course. Participants will be taught according to their level and linguistic needs. Students will be afforded the opportunity to engage and study with their Mexican university student counterparts, who will join the Penn State students for one of their courses, complete a collaborative project as research partners, and work together as language conversation partners for deeper, more effective experiences in multilingual communication.
Students are required to take the prescribed courses listed above as participants on the program. The Education Abroad Office will register you for these courses. To determine how these courses will fit into your degree requirements, you will need to work with your academic adviser. Suggested tips:
- Research courses offered on your program
- Meet with your academic adviser to discuss potential courses abroad and your degree requirements.
- Understand that courses abroad may change or may be unavailable for your selected term, so you will need to discuss possible back-up course options
- You must enroll in 3 credits for Summer.
- You must participate in the 1 credit pre-departure course in Spring. Program leaders will provide more details about enrollment in the Spring course.
- You cannot take any courses abroad on a Pass/Fail basis
- If you are studying abroad in your final semester at Penn State, please note that Penn State may not receive your grades in time for graduation
Students will stay with Mexican families in homestays. Students are requested to bring their own laptop computers, but will have access to high speed internet at the homestay and university campus locations. At the university campus location, the students will also have access to a library, computer lab with top of the line desktop machines and printing facilities.
Independent housing is not permitted on this program.
Some meals will be provided.
For more information on program costs, please be sure to review the budget sheet. These budget sheets include information on costs that are billable to the bursar bill, as well as estimated additional costs. Costs vary by program, so it is important to review this information carefully.
Please note that tuition rates may vary depending on major and class standing.
The Education Abroad Office awards a number of grants and scholarships to students who participate in an education abroad program through Global Programs. The application for the scholarships awarded through the Education Abroad Office is included with your program application. Eligibility is based on academic merit and/or financial need. You must have a current FAFSA on file to be awarded. There are additional scholarship opportunities through our partner universities, Penn State Academic Departments, and other sources. To view a full list of scholarships, eligibility requirements, and deadlines visit Funding Study Abroad.
Penn State students who plan to study on a Penn State approved program can use most forms of financial aid towards the cost of the program. Exceptions include work-study awards and some athletic scholarships. If you have specific questions regarding your aid awards, contact the Penn State Office of Student Aid.
Withdrawal & Refund Policy
Withdrawal and refund details are dependent on the timing and reason for your withdrawal from a Penn State Education Abroad Program. For specific details and steps on how to withdraw, read the Education Abroad Policies.
Once a student has committed to a Penn State Education Abroad program, they are financially responsible for any fees incurred on their behalf. Therefore, if a student plans to withdraw from a program it is their responsibility to immediately notify the Education Abroad office, in writing; email is preferred.
Regardless of the timing or reason for the withdrawal, the student will be responsible for paying the Education Abroad Administrative Fees. For faculty-led freestanding programs, there is a specific withdrawal penalty schedule.
Education Abroad makes every attempt at keeping the program and administrative costs to a minimum. However, when you commit to participating in a program, Education Abroad begins to make financial commitments on your behalf. In case of withdrawal, the following fees will be charged to your Bursar account
Upon Commitment - 90 Days Prior to Departure: 25% Program Fee + EA Admin Fee
30 - 89 Days Prior to Departure: 50% Program Fee + EA Admin Fee
29 Days - Departure Date: 100% Program Fee + EA Admin Fee
Following the start of the summer semester, any adjustment of tuition charges will be made according to the Tuition Adjustment Schedule as determined by the Office of the Bursar. More information can be found on the University Senate Policy on Withdrawal and Leave of Absence.
If a student withdraws after the start of a program, any adjustment of Penn State tuition charges will be made according to the Tuition Adjustment Schedule as determined by the Office of the Bursar. Students may be responsible for up to 100% of program costs. In most cases, partial credit cannot be awarded for leaving a program before its successful completion.
After the Start of the Program
For additional information on withdrawal policies, separate and apart from financial consequences, please consult the University Senate Policy on Withdrawal and Leave of Absence.
Studying abroad can be one of the most exciting and transformative experiences of your college career. It is an opportunity to develop independence, build cross-cultural competencies, grow as a person, and enhance your academic program. Entering a new culture can be challenging for everyone. You may ask yourself: is this the right country for me? What are their cultural norms? How will my identity be perceived there? What can I do to prepare for this experience? What will my daily life be like? Below are resources to help you answer these questions.
Penn State Education Abroad works closely with campus resources and our partner institutions around the world to ensure that students of all abilities reach their goal of studying abroad. While we cannot guarantee the accessibility of all program sites and locations, specific accommodations may be arranged on an individual basis. If you have accommodation needs or further questions please consult with the Student Disability Resources office and your Education Abroad Adviser. Additional resources are available through the Global Programs Website. Disability information will not be used during the admissions process, but rather is meant to provide students with resources to help in planning a successful experience abroad.
Gender and LGBTQA Considerations
There are dramatic and subtle differences in how gender, identity, sexual expression, and sexual health are perceived in different countries. Before going abroad, it is important that you research the specific country or countries you will be visiting and have a full understanding of their cultural norms. Below are some resources to help you with that research and provide guidance for your life abroad.
Race, Ethnicity, and Faith Considerations
When choosing a study abroad location and preparing for your travels, you will want to be mindful of how your experience will be different than what you are used to in the United States. Your racial, ethnic, and spiritual identities may be interacted with and labeled by others differently than what you expect. Here are resources to help you prepare for these differences.
It is possible for non-U.S. Citizens to study abroad through Penn State. To do so successfully, you must plan early because this process may involve obtaining visas and other governmental procedures. Check with your DISSA Adviser prior to committing to a study abroad program and speak with your Education Abroad Adviser for specific information on the host country. If you plan on traveling to other countries during your study abroad experience, you will need to research and make plans to adhere to immigration policies for all of the countries that you plan to travel to and through. You are responsible for applying for visas for all applicable countries on your own. Advisers in the Education Abroad office cannot apply for your visa for you. Additional information may be available through your country's embassy and the consulate for your study abroad country.
Steps to Study Abroad
The planning stages outlined on the Global Programs website will help you have the best study abroad experience possible. We recommend that you begin this process at least one year prior to the semester you plan on studying abroad. Visit the Steps to Study Abroad section of the Global Penn State website.
How to Apply
Click the “Apply Now” button on this page to get started!
Application procedures can vary by program. Students should consult the application instructions available within each application. For more information, see the Application Process section of the Global Penn State website.
You must apply to this program by the priority deadline, January 20. For a list of deadlines visit the Application Process page of the Global Programs website.
Although the final deadline for this program is January 20, students may be considered by priority deadline of December 11, 2019 in order to plan accordingly for the Spring semester. If students apply by the priority deadline, they will be notified of preliminary acceptance early. We strongly encourage you to apply prior to the priority deadline. All students, regardless of the date of their application, will have to commit to participating in the program by February 5.
Contact Education Abroad
If you have general questions about Education Abroad opportunities at Penn State, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Education Abroad Peer Advisers are Penn State study abroad returnees who advise students on education abroad opportunities at Penn State. Each Peer Adviser can explain program options, give an overview of the study abroad process, as well as provide information about their experience abroad. Peer Advisers have walk-in hours in Boucke Building during the fall and spring semester when classes are in session. For more information, visit the Education Abroad Peer Adviser website.
Education Abroad Advisers
Education Abroad Advisers can provide information about courses, support services, application processes, housing details, program costs, cultural expectations, pre-departure requirements, and much more. Education Abroad Advisers have two types of meetings - scheduled appointments and walk-ins. For more information about how to meet with an Education Abroad Adviser, please visit the Global Penn State website.
For information about upcoming events, scholarship opportunities, deadlines, and much more visit the Global Programs Events Calendar and follow us on social media!