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Programs : Brochure
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UMAIE: Spanish Language Through Cultural Engagement in Mexico
Merida, Mexico (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: January Term
This program is currently not accepting applications.
Homepage: Click to visit
Program Sponsor: UMAIE 
Program Cost January Term
Dates / Deadlines:
There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction:
English, Spanish
Minimum GPA:
Subject Areas: Spanish Housing Options: Homestay
Language Prerequisite: 2 - Intermediate Program Sponsor: UMAIE
Program Description:
Spanish Language Through Cultural Engagement: Merida

Program Highlights
  • Course will be taught by two professors with an abundance of knowledge and resources of Mexico due to previous experience leading courses and working with guiding overseas travel.
  • Lectures and presentations prior to cultural visits help to increase students' understanding of the language and culture of Mexico.
  • Visit sites throughout the Yucatan Peninsula, including many Mayan sites.
  • Prerequisites: SPAN112 (for 211), SPAN300 (for 305 or 320)
  • Fulfills: SPAN211 (Intermediate Spanish I) or SPAN305 (Oral Expression/Culture), or SPAN320 (Business Spanish)
Academic Overview
Course Description
Students will have the opportunity for experiential learning via a homestay with a Mexican family, the study of language and culture in small classes at the CIS, and excursions to historical places such as Dzibilchaltún, the archeological sites of Chichén Itzá and Uxmal, the artisan center at Progreso, and various museums and cultural centers in Mérida itself. The choice of readings, topics, grammatical components, and activities of the curriculum seek to fulfill the primary goals of this course: language immersion and historical/cultural understanding. Classroom instruction is in Spanish, and topics/readings/excursions provide the student with diverse opportunities to learn about Hispanic culture and history.

The program is structured to foster the students’ personal contact with the cultures and history of southern/southeast Mexico/Mérida, and raise their awareness of the interaction between language, culture, and society. The curriculum seeks to relate what the students learn in the classroom about the language and the culture to a variety of salient themes that help to define Hispanic culture. The city of Mérida, capital of the state of Yucatán in the Yucatán peninsula of southeast Mexico, is a unique location that benefits from a deeply ingrained Mayan indigenous past and present, an evocative colonial heritage that pervades the bustling city center, and a strong regional identity and prosperous economy. This unique, large city reminds us of first contacts between European and Mayan indigenous communities, as it is situated at the juncture between the peninsular coastline and greater Mexico. In this thriving area of Mexico, students will see socioeconomic and ethnic communities in contact, and will study the junctures where Mexico’s colonial past and modern present coexist. Students will interact in various real-life situations, will learn about Mexican history, geography, culture, and current events while taking classes at the CIS and living with Mexican families. The surrounding areas of the Yucatán Peninsula offer an archeological archive in which students will come into contact with Mexico’s Mayan indigenous history, which they may compare to the living indigenous presence in Mérida and other locales that they will visit during excursions.

Through a variety of activities outside the classroom and the visits to various sites (archeological, historic, and artistic), the students will embed the practice of the language in various sociocultural contexts. The sites that we visit during this program also serve to enhance the sense of cultural richness and diversity they will experience during their stay in Mérida.

Students will be in home stays for the entire program.

Required Readings
CIS will provide reading materials.

20%      Oral & Writing activities
40%      Culture Session
20%      Final examination       
Program Directors
Shirley Nieto-Flores, M.S., University of St. Thomas, (651) 962-5185,
Donny Vigil, University of St. Thomas, (651) 962-5285,

Description of Program Directors
Prof. Nieto-Flores is the Multimedia Language Center Director at the University of St. Thomas, and Spanish Faculty, as well. She holds a Master’s degree in Spanish Languages and Literatures with focus on Latin American Literature, and has a degree in Computer Science. Her research and area of interest include Second Language Acquisition, and CALL. Prof. Nieto-Flores is a native Spanish speaker, who has traveled around Europe, North, Central, and South America for both research and leisure. She has over 5 years of teaching experience at the college level. This will be the third time Prof. Nieto has directed the Merida program (2011, 2013), and she has also directed a January term program in Seville, Spain (2012, 2014).

Dr. Vigil is an Assistant Professor of Spanish the University of St. Thomas. He has taught Intermediate Spanish, Advanced Spanish Grammar and Conversation courses on numerous occasions.

Application Procedures & Deadlines

  • Select the Apply Now button at the top to start your online application.
  • Login using your UST username and password.
  • Complete all application materials by the application deadline. Students are encouraged to apply during the priority enrollment period, April 1-10, 2014. Applications will be accepted after April 10 for programs with space still remaining until the final application deadline of October 1, 2014.
  • Download and read Short-Term Off-Campus Policies and Procedures. You are responsible for reading, understanding, and abiding by its content.

Priority Application Deadline: April 10, 2014
Final Application Deadline: October 1, 2014

Financial Aid/Scholarships
To apply for January Term financial aid, submit a January Term financial aid application, available in early November, to the financial aid office. Additional aid in the form of scholarships may also be available from St. Thomas and some co-sponsoring organizations.  Refer to our Scholarships webpage for details.
Review the Short Term Off-Campus Policies and Procedures guide for additional financial aid information. To verify and confirm all financial aid awards meet with a financial aid counselor.

For more information
On course content, contact: Prof. Shirely Nieto-Flores at 651-962-5185,
On application procedures or logistical information, contact Study Abroad.

Office of Study Abroad
International Education Center (on campus: 44 N. Cleveland)
University of St. Thomas
Mail 44C
2115 Summit Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55105-1096 USA
Tel: 1.651.962.6450
Fax: 1.651.962.5199

This program is currently not accepting applications.