Student takes advantage of chance to study in Mexico

Scott Owens

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WIU students have the opportunity to visit foreign lands, experience new cultures and still keep pace with their plans for graduation.Through a group called the North American Consortium for International Advancement, an exchange program has been set up to allow students to study for a semester in another country.

The university is looking for more people to volunteer to be part of this program which began just this year at WIU. The program includes schools in Mexico, Canada and the United States.

It takes a unique individual to be able to do this, but the business department on campus believes it has found the perfect candidate in Rebecca Dail. She left to spend a semester in Mexico at the Universidad Autonoma de Queretaro in July. It was planned for her to return in December, but the experience has gone so well that she is considering finding an internship in Mexico to stay even longer.

This comes as no surprise to the WIU administrators who have dealt with her in the past. “She’s a bright young lady with excellent academic preparation,” Carol Fimmen, director of Cross-Cultural Educational Programs, said.

“Being motivated and outgoing are important traits that help Becky, since she is without her support group and friends,” Gloria Barr, business adviser, said.

WIU faculty members are communicating with Dail through e-mail, and advisers at the Mexican university are acting as counterparts to WIU’ s staff.

Before she left in July, Dail said, “I want to use my Spanish in the workplace, so this experience should really improve my Spanish as well as give me the international outlook I’ll need.”

Dail also participated in a three-week College of Business and Technology-sponsored trip to Mexico last summer and assisted 18 Queretaro students who visited Macomb in March.

She is now taking international business, marketing and economic classes at the Mexican university. All of her classes transfer back to WIU for graduation purposes.

Dail is a senior majoring in information management with a minor in Spanish.

Even with this minor, the first few weeks of orientation consisted of an intensive Spanish-language program, since she was totally immersed in the culture.

Dail began her stay with a Mexican family but later moved in with a Canadian exchange student she met at the university, Barr said.

“I’d really like to encourage other students to take these opportunities,” Dail said. “It gives you a whole new respect for other countries and customs.”

Barr also encourages students to get involved with the idea that this is a good way to experience a new culture while completing a degree.

“It is also the least expensive way with the college exchange system,” she said.

This is because the U.S. Department of Education funds the trips with scholarship money awarded to WIU. Students must pay tuition to their home university, so the price is comparable to what they would pay in the United States.

“Students in the program also have an edge in finding a job because they have experienced different environments,” Fimmen said.

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