For Languages Majors, Study Abroad Brings a World of Benefits

Danny Haffel ’18 knew his dual languages degree would give him a competitive advantage in the ever-evolving global economy. But it was his study-abroad experience that profoundly influenced his vision for the future.

“The skills I developed through my study-abroad experience in Grenoble, France, prepared me to tackle graduate school in that country head-on,” Haffel said. “My new global outlook has changed the way I create my design concepts.” He is now enrolled in a master’s degree program in brand design and food at L’École de Design Nantes Atlantique, with plans to pursue a career in food experience design in France.

His experience is a powerful example of the career opportunities unlocked for students through Stonehill’s Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures (LLC).

Effective communication — encompassing both written and spoken language skills — is critical to the Department’s three majors in Spanish, French and Dual Languages. Yet communication is only one of the five core pillars emphasized by those programs — five objectives for the programs’ semester-abroad requirement every one of its students must fulfill.

Danny Haffel ’18 is pursuing a master's degree in brand design and food at L’École de Design Nantes Atlantique in France. Above, Haffel (left) works with fellow students in one of their courses. Below, he and fellow students explore France and pose for a group photo. 

A Program Built Around Five Principles and One Major Experience

“When we talk about learning languages, we focus on the so-called Five C’s: communication, cultures, connections, comparisons and communities,” says Juan C. Martín Galván, department chair. “We can speak in the classroom for 50 minutes three times a week and cover these areas in other languages, but the real change occurs when students confront every one of them directly, by immersing in other countries abroad.”

The signature study-abroad requirement takes Stonehill language majors to wide-ranging global destinations, from South America and the Dominican Republic to Spain, France, Austria and Germany to Jordan and China. Every student’s study-abroad plan must align with established programs approved by the College. Students can transfer three preapproved courses taken abroad back to their majors at Stonehill, and they also have the opportunity to complete internship hours while abroad.

Students double majoring in language and education, for instance, can accumulate student teaching experience in the native language and in English through established programs in Spain and the Dominican Republic. Students such as Haffel, who double majored in Dual Languages and graphic design, gain new perspectives by rounding out their understanding of language and culture through elective courses.

Gaining Professional Advantages and Personal Growth

Students who complete the study-abroad requirement accrue benefits far beyond the professional through the simple day-to-day challenges of living outside their comfort zone. “Most of our students live with host families who don’t speak English,” explains Martín Galván. “They have to communicate with strangers and adapt to new perspectives. Students who allow themselves to be open-minded and challenge what they thought they knew about different cultures undergo incredible growth.”

Spanish major Carolyn Hayes ’20 experienced this transformation firsthand. “Living with a host family in Granada and experiencing complete classroom immersion expanded my education —both in mind and heart,” she says. “I cultivated lifelong relationships and fostered my love of learning about other cultures. Now I’ll be able to share these unique experiences with my future students.”

Amanda Blair ’18 sharpened her Spanish studies through an educational experience that was so transformative it ultimately defined her postgraduate plans. “I loved it so much, I ended up living in the Dominican Republic through the Stonehill Service Corps after graduation,” she explains. “Not only did my semester abroad improve my language skills so I could succeed there, but it also helped me realize that the Service Corps was what I really wanted to be part of in the first place.”