By Andrea James
Adventist Colleges Abroad (ACA) is a study abroad program with affiliates in countries around the world. There are many advantages to studying abroad. You of course get to travel and see great historical and cultural sites, but you also learn about other countries, cultures, peoples, and languages. Learning another language makes you more desirable in the job market and can be very useful in your everyday interactions with other people.
While abroad, you also earn credits that fulfill general education requirements. A large number of those credits can count towards PUC’s new language and culture studies major from the department of world languages and cultures. There are six emphases available for the language and culture studies major, as well as a Spanish studies major and minors in most languages. However, you don’t have to major or minor in languages to participate in ACA; all majors are welcome.
The main requirement for acceptance to the ACA program is a GPA of at least 2.5. For the academic year programs in Spain and Argentina, you also need to have either two years of high school Spanish or one year of college-level Spanish. No previous knowledge or experience is required for any other program. You can come as a total beginner to any summer program and to all non-Spanish academic year programs. The most important thing, in ACA Director Sandra Esteves’ words, is having the “ambition to learn and experience adventure.”
With ACA, you get a lot of bang for your buck. Tuition, room and board, meals, bedding, all required books, touring costs, and medical insurance are all included in the price. You can also use federal or state financial aid (but not any from PUC) towards your bill.
As ACA is an Adventist program, you can participate in missions-type work during the academic year (e.g., you can work with refugees in Lebanon). Wherever you go, there are opportunities to help people and give back some of the joy and knowledge you will be receiving.
Some perks depend upon the country or program you choose. In some countries, you don’t need to apply for a visa ahead of time; you will get it after you arrive on campus or you may only need a passport valid for six months past your stay. For some programs, you will receive money for extra travelling like weekend trips. In most academic year programs, you can apply for local internships in various fields. They’re unpaid, but great work experience and great for your resume. They also give you experience using a foreign language in a professional setting.
The number one tip I heard over and over again was to submit your ACA application early. PUC has earlier deadlines than listed in the spiral-bound ACA booklets, so make sure you are meeting the correct deadlines—April 1 for summer programs and May 1 for academic year programs. Plan things out ahead of time, whether that be before you leave or while you’re abroad and decide to go on a trip on the weekend.
For 2017-2018, the academic year programs (which you can attend for just the first one or two quarters, or the full nine months) are in Argentina, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, England, and Lebanon. Summer programs are in Austria (six weeks), Brazil (five weeks), Taiwan (10 weeks), France (six weeks), Israel (six weeks), Italy (six weeks), and Spain (six weeks).
You can find more information on the ACA website, by contacting ACA Director Sandra Esteves (email@example.com), and/or by contacting Dr. Sylvia Rasi Gregorutti (firstname.lastname@example.org). Dr. Gregorutti is PUC’s ACA representative and the department chair for world languages and cultures. There are also many pamphlets, brochures, and a “How to Apply” guide available in Irwin Hall about the ACA program. The thicker, spiral-bound handbooks include information about each school such as their address, what courses they offer, pictures of the campus, etc. If you do apply, make sure you attend the ACA orientation session on May 17 from 6-8 p.m. for important information before you leave for adventures overseas or across the continent. Keep an eye out for an Announce email about the session and its location.