UConn Winter in Oaxaca, Mexico (Study Abroad)

“The beautiful city of Oaxaca is being adorned with new and beautiful avenues like Porfirio Díaz Avenue, with new buildings like the school of the same name; and the improvements are occurring without interruption not only in the capital, but also in the towns of the districts.”
-Francisco Belmar, Brief Historical Sketch of Oaxaca, 1901


The Program

Situated in a mountain valley in southern central Mexico, Oaxaca City is the capital city of one of the most culturally diverse states in Mexico and is a fascinating intersection of contemporary urban culture as well as both colonial and pre-Hispanic traditions. Oaxaca City, declared Humanity’s Cultural Patrimony by UNESCO, owes its fame to the beauty and harmony of its architecture, the richness of its cultural traditions, the wide variety of its unique foods, and its temperate climate, spring-like throughout the year. Oaxaca is a city of some 300,000 people about 300 miles southeast ofMexico City, surrounded by villages where Zapoteco, Mixe, and Mixteco are spoken. Pre-Columbian sites (like Monte Albán and Mitla) as well as colonial and contemporary architecture offer students many opportunities to learn from archeological remains, contemporary indigenous cultures and modern Mexican culture. The UConn Winter in Oaxaca, Mexico program provides students an ideal location to learn in-depth about and experience our southern neighbor. The region’s fascinating history, large population of indigenous peoples, heritage-rich archaeological sites, economic and political challenges, political relationship with Mexico City, and migration flows to and back from the United States, all provide a fascinating context for students interested in Mexico’s rich culture and history.

The Academics

You will earn four UConn graded credits in the Oaxaca Winter Program, taking both a full-credit course in Mexican history and culture taught byUConn Professor Mark Overmyer-Velázquez and a one-credit Linkage Through Language (LTL) Spanish immersion class taught at the Becari Language School. Both classes make full use of the city, markets and day trips to pre-Columbian sites, indigenous artisan villages, and natural hot springs.Prior to departure in the summer, students will take part in a week’s worth of pre-trip orientation and historical and cultural immersion. Credits will be earned from the following classes:

History 3635: Mexico in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (3 Credits) This course fulfills the Gen Ed Requirement in Content Area 4 “diversity and multiculturalism” and meets the “international” requirement.

Using Oaxaca City and its environs as living historical archives, students will learn to navigate Mexico’s rich recent past by visiting and interacting with the streets, parks, markets, people of this state capital. Oaxaca’s inhabitants and economy played a central role in Mexico’s colonial- and independence- period histories. Building upon the legacies of Oaxaca’s colonial era, this course concentrates on the history of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Mexico, from the wars of independence in the early nineteenth century to the globalization of the present. Rather than focusing on the confusing surface flurry of events and leaders, stress is placed on broader trends of economic, political, social, and cultural development, and on the patterns of conflict and negotiation that conditioned them. Particular emphasis is given to the Revolution of 1910 and the long shadow it has cast for both the state and society.

Linkage Through Language – Spanish Immersion

At the Becari Language School, students take intensive language classes, participate in conversation sessions with native Mexicans and attend lectures and workshops. Workshops offer hands-on experience as well as an opportunity to work directly with a Mexican artisan.

The Experience

The program is located at the Becari Language School.  You will find Becari a warm and welcoming place, with an expert and accessible staff that always have time to answer a question or to help with a problem. The school will provide a comfortable home during the program with classroom space, computers with internet connections, a library, and a patio for recreation and casual conversation.

Students will be housed with Mexican families, an experience which offers a great opportunity for immersion in the language and culture of Mexico. Families provide full room and board in houses in the city’s center, always an easy walking distance to the zócalo, a large plaza where public festivals are held and people meet, often lingering at a sidewalk café sipping a steaming cup of rich hot chocolate, and watching the pedestrian parade.


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