In this week's post, Katrina takes a look at three values that are core to the CAPA experience: personalized learning, cultural engagement, and academic rigor.
A unique aspect of studying abroad with CAPA is the opportunity to experience curriculum that is, in many cases, drastically different from coursework at each student’s home institution. The core values of CAPA (personalized learning, cultural engagement, and academic rigor) manifest in different ways throughout the semester in ways that are distinct to a study abroad experience and make learning a far more engaging process than it often is in a more traditional setting.
Coming from a small university, I’m very used to the idea of personalized learning. I have classes (especially in the upper levels of my major) with 7-10 other students. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect at CAPA, but was pleasantly surprised to find that class sizes at CAPA mirrored (and were even smaller than) those at Rollins (my largest class at CAPA has about 15 students). Small classes give the instructors a chance to really get to know their students and build relationships as the semester progresses. My "Learning Through Internships" class instructor remembers each student’s internship site and is able to help us apply examples to our placement, which really helps me understand the concept when I can see it applied to a real-world scenario. My journalism professor helps each student tailor article topics to their individual interests so each of us has the opportunity to succeed by writing about things that interest us.
Personalized learning also comes into play with the larger CAPA team. My internship coordinators know me by name and are able to help with any issues that arise. The front desk staff is always friendly and inviting. Seeing the same smiling faces every day makes CAPA feel like less of a foreign place and more of a home away from home.
Cultural engagement was present from my first day in class at CAPA. I’ve taken field trips that relate course content to the city itself (like my trips with my "Writing the City: London" class). Any lecture material takes note of the role London plays in the concepts being taught. My internship is the highest form of cultural engagement, throwing me into the city as it lives and breathes. I’ve loved having the opportunity to work at Beauty and the Dirt and learn about the culture from people who are just going about their daily lives. For me, doing is a far better teacher than listening.
My CAPA classes have provided academic rigor in interesting and engaging ways. While I don’t spend hours on end doing homework, my assignments have pushed me outside of my comfort zone and made me think about things in new ways. As an English major, I’m used to writing and am comfortable with doing so. Having a journalism class, though, has pushed me outside of my comfort zone. The class challenges me to come up with my own content (instead of writing about assigned material), and allows me the opportunity to write about things that I am genuinely interested in. Journalistic writing was an entirely new discipline for me, and I had a lot of fun learning how to do it successfully (while engaging with feedback from my instructor).
The CAPA experience is truly unique and provides an entirely different study abroad experience than studying at a British university. The combination of the three core values creates an academic experience that helps American students adapt to and thrive in their new environment, really highlighting the fact that we are studying abroad and what it means to make the most of the experience.
Katrina's journey continues every Wednesday so stay tuned.