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MCCC Student Catherina DePaz Packs for Semester in Spain


West Windsor, N.J. - Hamilton resident Catherina DePaz, a sophomore at Mercer County Community College, is packing her bags for a semester abroad in Seville, Spain, from January 15 through May 10. Hailing from a family of travelers, she knew she wanted to study abroad at some point in her college career, but did not know she would have that opportunity as an MCCC student.

“I was surprised and delighted that it has worked out,” said DePaz, whose credits from the International University of Seville will transfer back to MCCC and allow her to graduate on schedule in May with her associate degree in Liberal Arts. While in Seville, she will take classes in Mediterranean history, Spain’s culture and society, and the Spanish language.

DePaz has several major goals for her semester.   “I want to learn about the culture and become fluent in Spanish. I want to feel part of it.” She notes that her father is Guatemalan and when his family members visit, they speak only Spanish. “I can get by, but I want to be fluent,” she said.

Catherina DePaz, right, with MCCC's Study Abroad Coordinator Andrea Lynch. DePaz takes off for Seville, Spain, on Jan. 15, where she will study Spanish culture and language.

Depaz is also looking forward to the urban environment of Seville, Spain’s third largest city.  While she will be living in a neighborhood with a host family, she plans to do plenty of independent exploring locally and in other parts of Spain.

In addition to her family travels to Mexico and Guatemala, DePaz had a taste of international travel as part of an MCCC Study Tour group to Costa Rica over spring break last March.  She stayed with a couple in the community of small town of Atenas, about an hour west of San Jose, and learned about Costa Rican culture from the inside out, along with nine other students who also had home stays.  DePaz rates the quality of life in Costa Rica as “five-star” and says her experience getting to know local people was wonderful. “My host family was a young couple just a little older than me. They took me to dinner and to the beach; I learned so much Spanish from them.” She says she is still in touch with them.

International study is just one satisfying element of DePaz’s two years at Mercer. The Nottingham High School grad especially likes the small class size.  “The professors have been wonderful.  You are more than a number,” she said.

After graduating from Mercer, DePaz plans to transfer to a four-year school to continue for her bachelor’s degree in social anthropology.

MCCC’s Study Abroad Coordinator Andrea Lynch notes that in addition to opportunities for full semesters abroad, the college offers short-term Study Tours for student groups, who travel with faculty leaders.  This spring, destinations include a return trip to Costa Rica in March, and new tours of Amsterdam and Poland in May.  More about the MCCC Study Abroad program is available by cllckling here.

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