Why You Should Apply Now for the COM Spain Program

For these UW students, a tour of the historic Cathedral of St. James in Santiago de Compostela included a visit to the roof of the church

Do you want to know what it’s like to live or work in another country? Communication majors and pre-majors can get a sense of that, even as they make progress toward their UW degree, through the Department’s Communication Spain 2019 study-abroad program.

The application deadline for this Autumn Term program is March 3. Students should not wait until the deadline to apply because qualified applicants are being accepted as soon as they finish the application process. The program can accommodate only 18 students.

“We have designed this as a cultural-immersion experience,” Professor Gerald Baldasty, one of the program co-directors, explained. “All of the courses, all of the program activities, all of the excursions – even a student’s living situation – are intended to provide insights into Spanish life, culture and communication practices.”

Communication Spain is based in León, a vibrant Spanish city about two hours by train north of Madrid. Students earn 15 credits. They take two Communication courses taught by UW faculty, as well as a conversational Spanish course taught at whatever level is appropriate for the student (applicants do not need to know Spanish to participate in this program).

The program fee is $7,300. It pays for tuition (regardless of UW residency status), housing, food and excursions to the cities of Madrid, Bilbao, San Sebastian and Santiago de Compostela, plus two heritage sites in Spain. Students live with local families who provide them a private room, wi-fi, meals and practical support.

One of the Communication classes, Fieldwork in Communication Studies (Com485), is an ethnography course that satisfies the Department’s research-methods requirement. Principal Lecturer Lisa Coutu will teach this course.

“The ethnography of communication allows students to learn about another culture from the cultural members’ perspectives,” Coutu said. “Through intensive observation and careful description, students quiet their own prejudices and biases in favor of seeing the world through another culture’s lens.”

The second Communication course, Writing With Voice (Com464), focuses on story-telling. Students will first conduct research about some aspect of Spanish politics, history or religion. They will then use that research to help produce an essay, a podcast or a video that tells a story about Spanish life or culture. Com464 is an advanced elective in the Communication/Journalism sequence and qualifies for “W” credit.

Students won’t need any prerequisites or special equipment for Com464, according to Emeritus Professor Randal Beam, who co-teaches that course along with Baldasty. “We want to take students where they are and to help them get better at writing and producing nonfiction stories,” Beam said. “These days, a good idea, a lot of effort and a smart phone are all you really need to tell a compelling story.”

UW Comm students take a break along the northern coast of Spain during an excursion to Santiago de Compostela

If you have questions about the Communication Spain 2019 program, send an email to Beam at rabeam@uw.edu.  An information session is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 4:30 p.m. in Room 126 of the Communications Building.