Study Abroad, or an academic Semester Abroad, as it is sometimes called, is an almost integral part of the US university student’s academic experience. It refers to the fact that a very significant number of US students (over a quarter of a million at any given time) spend at least a semester of their college years studying at other institutions outside the USA. Such programs, often sponsored by the university they attend, are widely considered to add to a student’s academic and personal growth. Living in a different culture, even for a short period, widens the intellectual horizons, sparks creativity and imagination, and certainly adds to a student’s CV when he or she is entering the job market—especially if study abroad includes an internship or work experience in the country of choice.
Many students value the experience so much that they often return for an additional period of study since almost all programs are structured so that they confer “credit” toward the student’s final degree, thereby preventing any “break” in his or her progress toward graduation. In fact, it is fair to say that more and more high school graduates entering university for the first time will choose to begin their studies at an institution abroad if they see the academic program there is the equivalent of the first year courses offered at the university in the USA where they hope to earn their final degree.
The study abroad program for both beginning and advanced university students, as popular as it is throughout the world, is not well-known in the Gulf and Middle East countries. To introduce this concept, ACD has chosen Spain as the overseas country which would be most interesting and appealing for students in the Gulf region and beyond. As in the Middle East, Spain’s history, language and culture have always been greatly shaped by its Arab post. One of its largest regions, Andalucia, in southern Spain, was at the center of the great Arab empire during the 12th century and beyond when Arab science, literature, and the arts dominated the Middle East, Europe and the Mediterranean world.
For its Semester in Spain Program, ACD is working with an affiliate institution, the American College of Marbella, by which it hopes to bring Spain and Andalucia into focus for the university community of the UAE and beyond. Marbella, on the deep southern coastline of Spain, is located in the heart of Andalucia and situated between Malaga and Cadiz with early access to Granada, Cordoba and Sevilla—all major outposts of this historically Arab region of Spain.
Utilizing ACD’s classroom-structured extension program (online) in which all ACD sponsored Semester in Spain students are formally enrolled, the American College of Marbella provides courses in the Spanish language, culture, art and history—all supplemented by trips and excursions to the most important historical and cultural sites of the area. Students will be able to immerse themselves for a semester in the language, art and culture of Spain by taking an exclusive package of subjects in this area. It should be noted that secondary school graduates, as well as university level students may choose to begin or continue their university studies in Spain. The American College of Marbella, under the auspices of the American College of Dubai offers a number of degree fulfillment courses in Spain that parallel the offering found in the first and second year in the US university system. In the latter cases, students–both beginning and advanced, must enroll in ACD and meet its admission requirements. They can then transfer the credits earned in Spain to the university of their choice in the Middle East or abroad.
Students may enroll in the “Semester in Spain Program” directly by contacting www.acmarbella.es and following the instructions found therein. In Dubai and the Middle East, however, the American College of Dubai acts as the coordinator and sponsor of the program. It provides student with all the pertinent details on enrollment, courses, housing, visas and travel. It serves as an administrative centre for all local UAE and Middle East students and their families. Students, even if they are attending another university in the region, must enroll in ACD for the designated semester. They must complete an application, provide their academic records, and meet the admission standards of ACD. They then become an official student at ACD which issues the academic transcript for the classroom-structured extension (online) courses sponsored by ACD in Spain. This usually allows them to utilize the courses completed in Marbella as part of their degree requirements at their local university in the Middle East from where they intend to graduate.