Due to the elimination of the winter intersession, study abroad programs offered by the college have had to be radically rearranged, officials said.
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Due to the elimination of the winter intersession, study abroad programs offered by the college have had to be radically rearranged, officials said.

The Spanish program to Costa Rica was cancelled and the English program began in snowy Oxford in January instead of the usual March start.

According to Instructor Joseph Sierra the program to Costa Rica had been offered every year with the Languages and the Natural Science divisions alternating one year on and a year off. The programs combined the study of Spanish language and Latin American culture and biodiversity.

“When winter was cancelled, the Spanish program in Costa Rica turned into the summer program in Madrid,” said Sierra.

Language Instructor Loknath Persaud, who is in charge of the Spanish program in Madrid, explained that students would benefit from completing eight units. He added that most of the afternoons and a few of the weekends would be free for students to explore the culture and the city.

Environmental Science Instructor Darcy Mack said that in the first year of the Natural Science program to Costa Rica the students had a unique experience. “They learn in such a different way there… nothing can actually make it hit home quite as much as actually seeing it,” she said. “It’s just invaluable to be able to go to a place and see things for yourself.”

There is a possibility to alternate the Costa Rica and Madrid programs in the summer, said Persaud. However, it would be difficult to preserve the continuity. “Both programs [could] be injured…we may struggle to maintain enrollment,” he said.

In Costa Rica students in the Natural Science program would explore impressive rainforests, biological reserves, a volcano and rivers, studying climate change, pollution, ecotourism, biodiversity, habitat destruction and conservation. For the Spanish program students would have stayed two weeks near the capital, San Jose and two in the oceanfront village of Flamingo Beach.

“There is just no equivalent experience here. It is a rainforest, so they have a lot more biodiversity,” said Mack.

Winter would be the best season to travel to Costa Rica, according to Persaud because the weather is hotter and with more rain in the summer.

Both Persaud, Mack spoke about exploring the possibility of offering the program to Costa Rica in the summer, taking into account weather and enrollment factors. According to Mack the trip would be competing with other programs for enrollment.

“A rain day lowers the amount of learning that can happen because you can’t see the animals or what is going on. It wouldn’t necessarily make it impossible but it would definitely take away from [the experience],”said Mack. “It would be far better for the program [to take place] in winter, there is no doubt about it.”

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