New Maymester programs offer Signature Courses

Brooke Ontiveros

Undergraduate students who still need to fulfill their signature course requirement will now have the opportunity to earn these credits abroad through new Maymester programs.

The new programs, called the Signature Maymester Programs Abroad, will give priority registration to transfer students, said Amy Exah, assistant director of faculty-led programs. Signature Courses introduce new students to areas of study outside of their major and are taught by upper-level professors, according to the Undergraduate Studies website. The courses will be taught in Ireland, Spain and Mexico, and will cover topics such as Irish emigration, the relationship between Spain, Mexico and the American Southwest, and issues and stereotypes related to immigration, according to the Education Abroad Office.

The Education Abroad Office and the First-Year Experience Office created the new programs to target transfer students, who are underrepresented in study abroad, Exah said.

“Often, transfer students come in at such a point in their academic career where they don’t have as much space or time to study abroad, or they’ve already fulfilled their core requirements,” Exah said.

She said each class will consist of 22 to 26 students. The programs will last four weeks and give students three credit hours towards their degrees.

Signature Course Maymesters will require students to take an international learning seminar worth one credit hour in the spring, said Heather Thompson, director of Education Abroad.

“It’s an opportunity for students to meet (during) the semester preceding the program with a faculty leader to set the groundwork for the learning that’s going to happen abroad,” Thompson said.

Throughout the week, students will attend three hours of class and occasional educational excursions on the weekends, according to an informational flier.

“The city is used as (the students’) laboratory,” Exah said. “Students really learn, meet with guest lecturers, local experts and visit unique locations.”

All classes taken abroad have UT course equivalents that are modified to fit and enhance learning in the international location, Exah said.

“(Students will) understand what it’s like to live in a country that is not a world power,” government professor Bartholomew Sparrow said.

Mechanical engineering freshman Natalia Cantu said she is interested in the Maymester programs because they provide real-world experience.

“A lot of companies are looking for you to be comfortable with relocating and adjusting to a new area,” Cantu said. “I feel like that willingness to adapt to a new culture is beneficial.”