ESU Students Study Abroad This Summer

East Stroudsburg University students study abroad in Spain.

Posted by: Elizabeth Richardson on July 30, 2019, No Comments

What do you get when 17 college students spend three weeks in Spain? According to Esther Daganzo-Cantens, Ph.D., associate professor of Spanish at East Stroudsburg University, you get global citizens. This summer that’s exactly what was produced, when these students embarked on a three-week study abroad trip.

In conjunction with the Universidad de Córdoba in Spain, three courses were offered and students chose two. One was a 400-level course designed specifically for Spanish majors and minors, the other two were 200-level Spanish courses designed for any student on the trip. Classes were in session Monday through Friday in the morning and early afternoon, followed by time for excursions later in the day. Every Saturday they visited major cities in Andalucia.

“As a Spanish professor and native of Spain, it is always a pleasure to share my country, language, and culture with my students,” Dr. Daganzo-Cantens said. “I enjoy seeing how they improve in their langue/culture skills on a daily basis.”

Sarah Smith, a senior majoring in accounting and Spanish from Middletown, N.Y., became much more confident in her ability to comprehend the language. She had been abroad a few times in high school, but this was her first time being fully immersed in another culture. Instead of living in a dormitory, each student lived with a host family. “My host family didn’t speak English at all, so we were only able to communicate in Spanish,” Smith said. “We spent a lot of time together and I really felt like I was a part of their family. I learned so much just being around them.”

Unlike Smith, Erin Ward had never been outside the United States before this trip. Ward, a senior majoring in nursing and Spanish from Allentown, Pa., felt a little jittery about her first time abroad. “My sister went on this trip with Dr. Daganzo-Cantens nine years ago, and told me I had to go too. So, I got a passport, and I got it stamped.”

Both Smith and Ward liked that they went on excursions that brought to life what they learned in the classroom each day. “We took a class about ancient co-existence among different religions. It was eye opening to me to learn how Christians, Muslims, and Jews peacefully co-existed before the Spanish Inquisition,” Ward said. “We visited the Great Mosque of Cordoba. It was breathtaking, the architecture dated A.D. 711. During the Inquisition it was ordered that the Mosque be gutted and turned into a Cathedral. Now, you have to walk through the Mosque to get to the Cathedral. This really stood out to me.”

Another excursion took the class to Seville, the capital of Andalucia. “They filmed parts of Game of Thrones there!” Smith said. “It was really cool to see this ancient city that is now known for a huge piece of modern pop culture.”  Smith also enjoyed local festivals and the Spanish culture in general. “You’d come home after a long day and the sun didn’t set until 10:00. Dinner isn’t at 7, it’s at 11 p.m. You can see people sitting in restaurants – just chatting until 2 a.m. There are flamenco and guitar performances on the side of the road. It was like being in a movie.”

A highlight of this trip for Daganzo-Cantens is seeing her students expand their horizons. “I think that in the society we live in today, we need to have an ample view of the world around us. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by traveling abroad, experiencing different cultures, and understanding different ways of thinking.” Through this trip, these ESU students did just that.

“Honestly, I think I learned more in these three weeks than I can in a whole semester,” Ward said. “I have amazing professors on campus, but nothing can compare to this experience. It was worth every penny.” The trip sparked a desire to travel for Ward. “I want to acquire more passport stamps.”

The cost of any study abroad trip can sound steep at first, but the university aims to make it easy. “I saw the flyer advertising the trip during the fall semester. I called my mom right away to ask her if I could go,” Smith said. “We were able to set up a payment plan so we didn’t have to pay the entire cost at once. That was really helpful. I also got a scholarship! I went the study abroad office in Stroud Hall, filled out an application, and was so excited when I learned I got it.”

Steven Ives is the director of the office of international programs at ESU. Along with informing students about scholarship opportunities and getting them prepared for their time abroad, he also accompanied Daganzo-Cantens and her students on the trip. “It is important that we have one faculty or staff member for every ten students on study abroad trips,” Ives said. “We want the experience to be as easy, and memorable for our students as possible.”

Ward and Smith are both grateful for their host families for treating them like daughters. “My host mother told me I will always have a home in Spain,” Ward said. “My host mother is a seamstress, she made me pajamas. I think of her every time I wear them,” Smith said. Both plan to stay in touch with their families. They are also thankful to Daganzo-Cantens for her energy and enthusiasm. “She is passionate about her students and the Spanish language and culture,” Ward said. “She took really great care of us and made sure we got everything we needed out of this trip,” Smith added. “She was like ‘host mom part two.’”

As part of their coursework students had to blog about their trip. They wrote, in Spanish and English, about some of their favorite experiences and excursions.

This summer, there were a total of eight faculty-led study abroad trips that took 66 students to China, Costa Rica, Central Europe, Spain, Honduras, Mexico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guatemala. View a full list of students who participated in faculty-led study abroad trips this summer.

To learn more about this summer’s trip to Spain, contact Daganzo-Cantens in the department of modern languages at 570-422-3199 or email  For more information about study abroad opportunities at ESU visit, or contact Steven Ives, interim director of international study programs at 570-422-3527 or