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Gain New Perspectives

September 9, 2019

Headshot of Jacob Dixon

Headshot of Jacob Dixon
Photo by Phuong Tran, CLAgency student

For Jacob Dixon, studying in Maputo, Mozambique confirmed a desire to teach Portuguese and opened up interests in the greater Lusophone world. Support from a FLAS fellowship through the Institute for Global Studies and the US Department of Education made his trip possible.

Major: Spanish & Portuguese studies
Year in school: senior
Studied abroad in: Maputo, Mozambique, summer 2018

How did you choose your program?

Professor Beal told me about the FLAS (Foreign Language & Area Studies) Fellowship in the spring of my freshman year. It really interested me from that point on, and I decided to apply for the grant in the fall of my sophomore year.

What was your program like? 

I did an intensive language course at a private-schooling institution called Contactos, Aulas & Traduções. Despite the main focus being the language, we also studied the culture and history of Mozambique extensively. I had two professors who alternated giving classes. The institution had other students from around the world also learning Portuguese, but each class was private—akin to a tutor.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time abroad? 

It feels almost impossible to pick out only one or two memories, but all of my favorite memories involve spending time with the people I met there. My two years of Portuguese study before traveling allowed me to connect with people I wouldn't have been able to otherwise and gain new perspectives in a direct way.

How has your learning abroad experience connected with your studies at the U?

I decided to take a contemporary African politics course due to what I learned during my time in Mozambique. I also feel like I can connect to readings and lessons about the colonial legacy on a deeper level. It is much easier to conceptualize the consequences of colonialism having met and spoken with the people directly affected by it.

How did scholarships aid your experience?

The financial support that the US Department of Education and the Institute for Global Studies provided me through a FLAS fellowship was what allowed me to have this experience in the first place. In addition to funding provided for travel and classes, I was also given a living stipend that allowed me to experience parts of Mozambican culture that I may not have been able to experience otherwise.

How has learning abroad enriched your life?

Before going to Mozambique, I wanted to teach Portuguese at the university level. My trip not only affirmed this but also opened up my academic interests to include the whole Lusophone world, not just Brazil and Portugal. If I eventually become a professor of Portuguese, I hope I can share my experiences in Mozambique with my students and possibly even find or create opportunities for them to do the same.

What advice do you have for students who are thinking about studying abroad?

I would suggest that students look into as many programs as they can, specifically in places they may not have considered initially. I had no connection with Mozambique before my trip, but going was one of the best decisions I've made.

This interview was conducted by an undergraduate student in CLAgency. Meet the team.