Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Mariola Pérez de la Cruz

Second Advisor

Pablo Pastrana-Pérez


The purpose of this study is to analyze the differences between studying Spanish at an American university, Western Michigan University, in Kalamazoo, Michigan to that of a study abroad program at La Universidad de Burgos, in Burgos, Spain in three main areas: teaching styles in classes, extracurricular activities and student experiences.

To begin this study, it is important to note the differences in demographics and available public transportation where each study took place: Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA and Burgos, Spain. In Kalamazoo, students have the option to use the city bus system, the Metro, for free, but tend to use their private vehicles instead, incurring a large cost. While in Burgos, students use the city bus systems every day and have a bus card to get discounted fares.

Students who study Spanish at Western Michigan University have the option to takes classes at Western Michigan University, or abroad through faculty led study abroad programs. In this study, students participated in the Fall 2022 faculty-led study abroad program in Burgos, Spain. This program was 13 credits that directly transfer back to Western Michigan University, and took place from September 3rd, 2022, to December 14th, 2023. Each student had different linguistic levels due to differences in classes taken prior to the beginning of the program. The goal of this program is to allow students to build upon their Spain language competencies.

Throughout their classes at La Universidad de Burgos, students had the opportunity to participate in many field trips, which in total, added 52 hours to their education, or the equivalent of an extra 3 credit course. Students were able to interact, see, and experience what they were learning which led to higher information retention rates.

This study also highlights student experiences including impacts of culture, differences in student’s weekly activities, impact of studying Spanish and struggles they faced while abroad and how they adapted to being in a new country.

The conclusions of this study found that students believe there are pros and cons to studying Spanish in either location, but that each program could benefit from moving towards the middle. At Western Michigan University, students could benefit from more flexibility in class time to focus on topics students do not understand, while at La Universidad de Burgos students would benefit from having more concrete communications from the program’s professors via e-mail.

Overall, students found that participating in a language immersion program is the best way to learn how to use the language in a practical manner including: daily activities, conversations, transportation, food items and slang.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

Thesis Presentation Madeline Kastel.pdf (26691 kB)
Defense Presentation