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Learning language and culture in Puerto Rico

Posted on Dec 6, 2012
Senior Brianna Crumbaker spent spring semester in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory in the northeastern Caribbean.
click to enlarge
Learning language and culture in Puerto Rico

© 2012 Brianna Crumbaker

Brianna, a Mass Communication major with a Spanish minor, will graduate this December after studying at the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón in San Juan, Puerto Rico, through the National Student Exchange.

Being half Puerto Rican, and having visited the island once before, Brianna says that the decision to apply was a no-brainer.

"When I found out I could spend a semester in Puerto Rico for basically the same cost as studying in Superior, I knew I had nothing to lose by applying for the program."

A few months later she was accepted.

In Puerto Rico, Brianna took a variety of upper level classes that not only improved her Spanish but also transferred as pre-approved 300-level elective courses to her UW-Superior transcript. Living in the residence halls also eliminated the worry of having to find a place to stay.

Brianna experienced a relatively informal class structure, and learned how Puerto Ricans run on polychromic time "meaning that to them time is continuous, and has no particular structure. As a result, classes do not always start on time -- the professors typically arrive to their classroom 10-15 minutes late… This did not mean that Puerto Ricans did not take their work seriously, but it just meant that they approached life as it came and worked around it, instead of making definite plans."

On weekends, Brianna could visit the largest shopping mall in the Caribbean, Plaza Las Americas, or the beach and relax and enjoy the weather, or explore Old San Juan.

Outside the classroom, Brianna continued learning the Spanish language, learning new vocabulary and the Puerto Ricans unique style of Spanish. Brianna says "learning these phrases and ways of communication helped me socialize with the locals and to be creative with my own language skills."

The National Student Exchange is a unique program that allows students to study in a different state, territory or Canadian province for a semester or academic year. Nearly 200 institutions are members of the program. Students pay tuition and fees at UW-Superior just as if he or she were here, but all housing, meals, and other costs will be paid at the host university. Most scholarships and financial aid will apply as usual.

To learn more about the National Student Exchange, or other study away options, visit

- by Hannah Ness, Study Away Program Assistant

News Contact: Cherie Sawinski | 715-394-8020 | csawinsk{atuws}
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