As an academic advisor, Maryanne Williams is driven to help students. She offers advice for students who are studying Spanish or Portuguese majors and minors, handles students’ certificates of advanced level proficiency, and helps students find the right study abroad programs.
Williams has visited study abroad programs in Spain and South America to learn more about courses, internships, staff, housing, and other aspects of the trips—all of which prove useful when meeting with students to discuss possible study abroad opportunities. These site visits have helped her understand the scope of the study abroad programs that students can choose from.
Williams, who encourages students to study abroad, was able to sit in on classes students would take, and visit internship sites they can choose from. “Students learn a lot outside of the classroom — a lot about the community and about using the language in a non-academic setting,” she says. Studying abroad offers students an unsurpassed cultural experience and real life opportunities to use the languages they study, providing a nice balance with what they learn in the classroom.
The department has sponsored study abroad programs in five countries and countless affiliated programs. Due to the diversity of choices, advising students on which programs would be best for them can be challenging. For sponsored study abroad programs the department works closely with the Learning Abroad Center. Faculty review syllabi and decide what classes will count toward majors and minors.
Williams traveled to a sponsored study abroad program in Quito, Ecuador in February. She spent four days in their program center and observed a unique program which allows students to take classes for the first half of the semester, and has them partake in an internship for the second.
The next month Williams flew to Spain and spent time in Madrid and Toledo—two of the most popular destinations for Spanish studies majors and minors. In Toledo, Williams sat in on classes and traveled with students to various excursion sites. She was able to sit down with University students and get feedback on their experiences.
Having experienced these programs firsthand, Williams can give students a better picture of each program. “Studying abroad is very eye-opening for a lot of students, and they grow a lot as human beings through the experience.”