The purpose of the study abroad component of the Department of Spanish & Portuguese is to encourage students to engage in international and intercultural learning and to promote understanding of self and others through contact with diverse cultural and linguistic behaviors.

In addition to on-campus courses taught in language, culture and literature, and internships in the Twin Cities, the Department of Spanish & Portuguese recommends study abroad to all enrolled students, and requires it of its majors. Our focus is on high quality intellectual, cross cultural and language-acquisition opportunities that live up to the promise of a serious internationalist liberal arts college. The challenges and opportunities associated with study abroad are many, including:

  1. Study abroad calls upon students to use their Spanish or Portuguese language skills daily, inevitably resulting in dramatic improvement in all areas of competency, including grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and speaking ability.
  2. Family home stays provide students with an interpretive lens through which to view a country’s culture and they can examine the relations between self and society. This window on daily life and understanding supports students as they engage with the broader community.
  3. Study abroad academic programs, whether offered in a university setting or a private institute, complement on-campus offerings by exposing students to diverse teaching methodologies and new perspectives of their major course of study and by providing opportunities for internships and independent projects tailored to students’ interest.
  4. The study abroad experience challenges students’ notion of themselves, their worldview, and their place in it. As a result of their engagement with bilingual and bicultural realities, students enrich their perception of themselves and their relationship to society.

Popular Programs

Be sure to consult Macalester’s Center for Study Away website. Both the Center for Study Away and the Department of Spanish & Portuguese recommend the programs listed below. They have a history of providing rigorous, well-structured, and meaningful experiences abroad. Each includes a home stay.

South America

IFSA-Butler: Santiago, Chile, This is an ‘assisted’ direct enroll program offering courses through the local university partners: Universidad de Chile, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, and Universidad Diego Portales. All students take a required Advanced Spanish course (4 credits) taught by IFSA-Butler; students then enroll in 3-4 Spanish-taught, direct enroll courses offered at the universities for a total of 15-18 semester credits. Beyond the classroom, students reside in home stays and are encouraged to get involved in the local community.
IFSA Butler in Santiago, Chile

IFSA-Butler: Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Argentine Universities Program offers flexibility in a cosmopolitan city with course offerings from just one or from all four of the associated Buenos Aires universities: Universidad de Buenos Aires, Universidad Católica Argentina, Universidad del Salvador, or Universidad Torcuato Di Tella. 
IFSA-Butler in Buenos Aires, Argentina

IFSA-Butler: Mendoza, Argentina.   The Mendoza Universities Program offer the option to take courses at two universities in Mendoza: The Universidad Nacional de Cuyo (UNC) and the Universidad de Congreso.  Students can take classes in the Social Sciences and Fine Arts programs at both universities. The program offers volunteer opportunities to integrate into the local community.

SIT-Study Abroad: Multiculturalism, Globalization, and Social Change in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The program explores the key role played by cultural processes, identities, and resources in defining who “develops” and how. Field excursions to the tropical lowlands and the altiplano, including spectacular Lake Titicaca and the world’s highest capital city, La Paz, provide opportunities to observe social and cultural life in both urban and rural Bolivia. Visits to development agencies and seminars on the history of Bolivian social movements enhance your understanding of this predominantly indigenous nation.

CET: São Paulo, Brazil.  This program combines Portuguese and English courses taught at the CET center with direct enroll courses in Portuguese at the local university, Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC).  Students are exposed to multiple regions and types of communities focusing on Portuguese language and cultural immersion throught excursions, living with local students and traveling seminars.

CIEE: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  This program is designed for students with at least two years of college-level Spanish or one year of Portuguese. The program’s objectives are to increase students’ oral and written Portuguese language skills to facilitate students’ knowledge of contemporary Brazil and to provide students with the opportunity to take regular Brazilian university courses.  Students can take classes in the fields of Media, Design and Social Communication and Liberal Arts.
Click here to view syllabi from CIEE’s programs.

IFSA-Butler: Lima, Perú.  The program is located in the capital city of Perú and offers a vibrant academic life with a diverse and international student body. It offers a Liberal Arts program at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP), and students have the option to study a concentration on gender studies. It also offers a community –based learning component.

SIT-Study Abroad: Indigenous Peoples and Globalization in Cusco, Perú.  This program is based on the experiential learning model, which merges hand-on learning with reflection. This program examines the social economic, political, and cultural impacts of globalization on indigenous people. It offers classes in Quechua and Spanish with a field research methods and ethics class in preparation for an Independent Study Project.

Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean

SIT-Study Abroad: Youth Culture, Literacy, and Media in Managua, Nicaragua and Havana, Cuba.  The program offers classes in Spanish on the Nicaraguan and Cuban Revolutions, youth culture and media expressions among other subjects.  The program is based in Managua, Nicaragua, but students spend ten days in Cuba learning from Cuban academic, professional and community experts.  Students participate in digital literacy workshops with Community members in Nicaragua and Cuba.  Three recent semesters of college-level Spanish are required to participate in this program.

IFSA-Butler: Mérida Universities Program in Mexico.  This program combines IFSA-Butler courses with Spanish-taught, direct enroll courses at the local universities, Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (UADY) and Universidad Modelo.  Students can take classes in Latin American Studies, Public Health, Anthropology, Archaeology, Business, Economics, Education and Medicine.  Volunteer opportunities are available.

CIEE: Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic.    This program combines CIEE study center courses with Spanish taught, direct enroll courses at the local university, Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM).  The program has  home stays in Santiago and requires a minimum of four hours per week of volunteer work in a social service activity.   Four semesters of Spanish required.

Arcadia: Havana, Cuba.  This program is based in Havana, Cuba and offers direct enroll courses at the local university, Universidad de la Havana.  It offers classes in Cultural and Gender studies, International Relations, History, Biodiversity and Romance Language and Literatures.  Four semesters of Spanish required.


IES: Granada, Spain. The program offers courses in Art History, Anthropology, Business, Communications, Economics, Fine Arts, Film Studies, History, Literature, Music and Political Sciences.  It also offers internship opportunities and a five-day trip to Morocco where students live with local families and interact with local university students and professors.  Four semesters of college level Spanish required.

CIEE: Seville, Spain.  This program allows students to take classes at the Universidad de Sevilla alongside Spanish students in their degree program. Sample courses include history, languages, anthropology and Arabic studies. Students participate in tertulia lecture series, a conversation exchange program, volunteer opportunities and independent study options
Click here  to view syllabi from CIEE’s programs.

IES: Madrid, Spain. This program offers internships in a variety of public and private organizations. Students take classes at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. During the program students live with host families or in student apartments. Each semester students go on guided visits around Madrid and participate in arranged cultural events and activities.
IES Madrid