Saddleback College celebrates its 25th year offering a study abroad program to Santander, Spain

Santander Beach in Santander, Spain during August 2012. (Wikimedia)

Not only do students take classes during this study aboard program, they get to enjoy Santander Beach in Santander, Spain. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Gilman Scholarship makes studying abroad affordable for Saddleback students

Saddleback College celebrates their 25th year offering a study abroad program in Santander, Spain this summer. The excursion in Santander is scheduled to occur from June 29th to July 30th. Students are able to apply for the U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship in order to finance more than half of the program’s initial cost of $4,484.

The Gilman International Scholarship was established by the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000 to allow undergraduate students the opportunity and financial support of learning different languages and cultures. Each academic year, over 2,900 scholarships are awarded to students. In order to be eligible, award recipients must be a citizen of the United States and an undergraduate student who is receiving a Federal Pell Grant.

“Of the students who apply, some are awarded around $2,500,” said Carmenmara Hernandez-Bravo, who is the co-chair for Saddleback College’s international languages department and the Spain study abroad program director. “Study abroad is an immersion program that allows students to have the opportunity to learn outside of a traditional classroom setting. Students are able to participate in activities such as cinematography Mondays or Martes Literarios to learn more about the culture.”

Since 2013, only four Saddleback students have been awarded the Gilman Scholarship. According to the scholarship’s 2016 through 2017 impact statistics, 46 percent of Gilman Scholars were first-generation college students. Furthermore, 87 percent of Gilman Scholars took a greater interest in international topics upon return to the United States from their host country.

“It is definitely comforting knowing that things like the Gilman Scholarship exist for students,” said Vanessa Rodriguez, a first-generation student and political science major at Saddleback College. “When I first attended the meeting, I assumed that studying abroad was not something financially available to me.”

The study abroad program in Santander this summer is expected to have more than 15 students participate. Students participating are expected to take a minimum of 11 units and go through 40 weekly hours of instruction. The courses offered are taught at Colegio Miguel Unamuno and include Elementary Spanish, Intermediate Spanish, Intermediate Spanish Grammar & Composition, Intermediate Conversational Spanish, Civilization of Spain Through 1898, Civilization of Spain 1898 to Present or Fundamentals of Arts.

Saddleback students who studied abroad last summer were able to experience the fiesta of San Fermin and view the Encierro or Pamplona bull run in Pamplona, Spain. The Pamplona bull run consists of getting multiple bulls from a corral in Calle Santo Domingo into the Plaza de Toros arena in Pamplona.  

Saddleback study abroad student, Ryan Gates, at the Plaza de Toros during the bull run in Pamplona, Spain last summer.

Saddleback study abroad student, Ryan Gates, at the Plaza de Toros watching the bull run in Pamplona, Spain last summer.

“When a firework went off six bulls were released into the streets and hundreds of runners from around the world took off towards the arena,” said Ryan Gates, a Saddleback student that went to Spain last summer through the study abroad program. “When the bulls were safely rounded up and put back in their stables we celebrated hugging and high-fiving strangers who had ran with the bulls.”

Students participating in the trip this summer will be able to spend the night in Madrid before arriving in Santander. Throughout the stay in Santander, participants can indulge in excursions to museums and historic sites within Spain. There is also a four day vacation period planned for this summer’s study abroad itinerary which allows exploration into Barcelona or other neighboring countries of Spain such as Portugal, France or Italy.  

Photo: Jettcom [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons