I spent the summer of 2017 participating in Professor Haber’s study abroad trip in Mexico and it was by far one of the best choices I made in my undergrad! The classes you take there, provide you with a unique learning experience that you will not get at a university or with a large study abroad organization. They provide you with the opportunity to develop important reasoning and critical thinking skills that you will draw from throughout your education. Furthermore, there is the experience of living in Mexico for six weeks. I lived with a wonderful host family that I am still close with and plan to visit again. I did not speak any Spanish when I went and did not feel that this hindered my experience in the least, it just made it more interesting. Mexico as a whole is place with beautiful people, culture, and scenery, and most importantly, the best tacos. The field trips we did as a group will always be some of my favorite memories from college. Whether you are new to traveling and or a seasoned world traveler, you will not be disappointed if you choose to participate in this program.
Studying abroad in Mexico was the best decision I made in college. Pátzcuaro, a picturesque town surrounded by mountains and a lake, has preserved its authentic charm by remaining off the tourist’s radar. Students have the opportunity to live like a local by living with a host family, which was my personal favorite aspect of the trip. Despite my shyness, less than a week into the trip my host mom, Sara, and I had a random three hour conversation about our life stories, religion, and life in Mexico. I loved waking up for class in the morning because Sara always made café con canela (cinnamon coffee) and we would chat over breakfast. It didn’t take long until I felt as though I were a member of her family. Classes in Pátzcuaro are interesting and engaging. Professor Haber leads a dynamic group environment based on discussion and participation instead of traditional university lectures. The work load is manageable and there is time to explore Pátzcuaro and Michoacán. Morelia, the capital of Michoacán and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is less than an hour from Pátzcuaro. Professor Haber also organizes weekend trips, which range from relaxing on the beach to hiking up a volcano. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity!
-Christa Street, Summer 2017
Over a year later, I still frequently think about my experiences in Patzcuaro, Mexico. Having both studied abroad previously for a month in Cuba and having spent time in other countries and cities of Mexico, Patzcuaro was by far the most endearing and magical. From the second we arrived in our destination, the city took me with its charm: colonial architecture stands in beautiful contrast with the many churches that project older times, the noise of cars, honks, and advertisements keep you on your feet night and day, the accepting, friendly locals are always eager to share the secrets of Patzcuaro, the plazas, a source of activity day and night, fulfill a vital aspect of life in Patzcuaro, the nightlife is fun, affordable, and simple, and the food is beyond compare. I had the opportunity to live with two host families while in Patzcuaro and this gave me ample time to walk the city on foot as the first family lived some 2-3 miles away from CELEP and the plazas. I walked, ran, and explored the streets of Patzcuaro early in the morning on my way to classes, and earlier in the morning or later at night (!) after walking classmates home from the bars. I never once felt in danger: like any other part of the US, or the world, if you look for trouble, you will find it. The excursions Professor Haber took us on were fun, informative, and very important because it reminded us of the countless opportunities for fun and adventure just outside the city limits. My two favorite excursions were the weekend trips to the beach and the hiking of Paricutin. The former, because well who doesn’t love body surfing for hours on end? The latter, because of the sheer natural beauty of the volcano and for the best food I had in Mexico: Mole Negro con Pollo in San Juan Nuevo (GET IT!). Another note of importance is the friendships you will make. First, I only knew two of the group members prior to going on this trip. We had classes with each other in prior semesters but that is where our friendship stopped. Within a day or two of being in Mexico, we were all friends. Don’t let not knowing anyone stop you from going on this trip. Secondly, I made countless friends of strangers in the plazas, waiters at our favorite coffee spot, and host families (both mine and other students). When I go back to Patzcuaro, I will feel as if I never left! Finally, I want to touch on the classes. The Spanish instruction is par excellence. I learned more in 44 days from CELEP and hitting the streets than I did in all years of Spanish instruction prior. If you want to learn to speak Spanish, then go on this trip! The Political Science classes, led by Professor Haber, were extremely informative and a nice break from the sometimes-mundane lectures we as American students are used to back home. Discussion was encouraged and formed the basis of learning in the class. I would recommend however that if you decide to do this trip, get a lot of the reading done before hand. It will free up your time to do other things that you would not be able to do unless you are in the beautiful, diverse, ever-surprising country of Mexico!
--Braeden James Campbell, 2017.
My trip to Mexico was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Mexico is a beautiful place filled with wonderful people, culture, amazing food, a rich history, and the chance to learn and think in a new environment; it is also a great opportunity to meet some amazing people and really become great friends with them. This trip offers an opportunity to learn abroad with great professors, fellow students, and a host family that offers support as well as a place in their homes and lives. I was hesitant when I first started thinking about going on this trip in 2015, but if I had the chance I would absolutely do it again, as it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. In Mexico I had some of the best food of my life, met some of the kindest people, was accepted into my host family's home and supported completely. I saw many amazing places, heard and shared many stories, and made some wonderful friends whom I am still in contact with today. If you do go on this trip it will be something you will never forget and not regret. If you have the money and time I highly recommend staying a bit longer after the six-weeks is up and seeing more of the country. It has been over a year since I was in Mexico and I still think about how amazing it was. I could describe here so many more things that I loved about Mexico but I recommend that you find them yourself. My only advice is to keep an open-mind, be respectful, don't let anyone ruin your trip, step out of your comfort zone and try new things, and indulge yourself in the culture and experiences Mexico has to offer.
-Markle Quinn, 2015
I traveled with Professor Haber and classmates to Mexico and the experience is one I will always hold in high regard. The opportunities you will be given to learn about Mexican culture, and the experiences you will have, are ones you will never forget. It is hard to compare the feelings of freedom and novelty that you can have abroad to anything in your own environment. If you have a chance to take this trip, I highly recommend that you do so. You will be given the rare chance to broaden your horizons and discover how people live an environment that feels foreign to your own. Also, eat as many street tacos as you can. You won’t regret it.-Pierce Frazier, 2015
Mexico is a place of extreme beauty and is full of vibrant culture that can be felt through its food, music and architecture. All of the things I like about Mexico are found in Patzcuaro: Old colonial era churches, bustling street markets, small, seemingly unnavigable cobblestone streets, relaxed cafes and kind, interesting, resilient people. You will learn so much about Mexico both from Paul's classes and the experience with your host families. A travel experience like this, with the ability to really feel what it's like to live in Mexico, can be once in a lifetime. Patzcuaro is very relaxed and feels about as dangerous as the Missoula Farmers market. Guadalajara is a fun place and I wish I would have had more time to visit there. Same goes for Morelia (Michoacan's capital), and Mexico City. If you have the chance (and still have money left over) I suggest traveling around and seeing much more of Mexico. You'll be equip with so much new knowledge of Mexico, you'll want to explore it as much as possible.
- Aaron Johnson
The summer trip to Michoacán with Professor Haber is truly a unique experience. I find it hard to imagine a six-week program that is a more effective emersion into Mexican culture. The combination of living with a family, learning Spanish from local instructors, being in an authentic and unspoiled region, traveling with equally curious companions and learning about the political and societal changes of the area from a man who has dedicated his life to studying it is truly priceless. Professor Haber has had more than a quarter century to perfect this experience; he does an artful job of mixing education, adventure travel, fiesta, and most importantly card playing. This trip will forever change the way you perceive Mexico, and force you to question firmly held beliefs about your own country.
Now to address the elephant in the room: safety. Patzcuaro is a beautiful mountain town full of friendly people, which happens to be situated in a state that has experienced some of the worst effects of the ‘War on Drugs’ (not to mention the worst media coverage). However, the instances of violence occur hundreds of miles from the town in an area called the ‘Tierra Caliente’. Equating Patzcauro with violence because of the state it is in would be similar to claiming the Upper Peninsula of Michigan dangerous because of problems in Detroit. Professor Haber would not continue to bring students to this region if he did not consider it as safe as Missoula. And students should follow the same precautions they would at home. Please do not factor in news you have heard about Michoacán in your decision. You will not regret going on this trip.
- Wilson Reiser, 2014
For almost a year after returning from Mexico, I did not go a single day without thinking of my time in Patzcuaro. The relationships I built with my host family and fellow classmates will last with me forever. It is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. Professor Haber’s classes are both insightful and engaging, and are all the more worth while given the relevance of being in Mexico. Plus, the weekend excursions on which he takes you are quite memorable. The language barrier you may encounter may be a struggle, but it is this challenge that is most rewarding. I went to Mexico with barely a beginner’s level of Spanish, but on my last night I held an hour-long, normal conversation with a complete stranger as if I were at home speaking English. Pablo’s program is not only a whirlwind of fun and exploration, but it teaches you the true meaning of the immigrant experience.
This trip was the best decision I ever made. I was (still am) shy and a homebody, everyone who knew me was shocked that I decided to go on this trip. Studying abroad presents its challenges, but the benefits make it totally worth it. The language, and culture of Mexico are fascinating and wonderful to be apart of. The people and classes are amazing and you never left feeling alone. I would absolutely recommend this trip, especially for the other shy people out there!
- Sierra Fuchs
The Mexico trip is the perfect mix of learning and fun! Even as a non-traditional student it stood as a great way to really get to know other students and experience another country. I enjoyed the class schedule of longer classes every other day. Professor Haber’s experiences and knowledge of Mexico and the variety of student backgrounds and majors made for interesting classes and discussions. The trips to the beach and the volcano allowed for a break in the weekly schedule and were amazing and memorable. Everyday spent in the town of Patzcuaro seemed different and positive, with crazy parades, friendly locals, and beautiful shops. I would go again!
- Maureen Porter
The summer I spent in Patzcuaro, Mexico was the experience of a lifetime. For me, the most amazing aspect of the trip was the host family experience. Being immersed with a family that spoke no English helped my Spanish improve by leaps and bounds. It was also the perfect way to get a true taste of Mexican culture, and wow the food was amazing! The trip really opened my eyes to issues of immigration, Mexican politics, and development in a way that is just not possible in a classroom in Montana. I now feel totally connected to the issue of humane migration and will likely devote part of my career to it. I also developed Mexican and American friendships that will last forever and absolutely cannot wait to go back to Patzcuaro! As cheesy as it sounds, the summer trip to Patzcuaro really changed my life.
- Mona Schwartz
From the perspective of a business student, the program in Mexico was extremely beneficial in ascertaining the idea of a global economy. Political science is not an area I was familiar with, but the discussions were interesting and the environment comfortable to provide input. Patzcuaro is easily navigated and filled with hard working, good-hearted people. It was an experience I would recommend to anyone who seeks an adventure abroad.
- Matt Asaro, 2013
The Mexico study abroad program utilizes immersion to open academic, professional and personal doors into Latin America. The intimate class sizes will bring the complexities of both Latin American Politics and Spanish language within the reach of any student. My Spanish went from two-years-of-hated-high-school-classes to comfortably conversational within the transformative six weeks of this program. The combination of this program´s spectacular location in Patzcuaro (an incredibly easy transition from Missoula) and it´s free-form scheduling truly allows every student to create their own experience with their time outside of classes. One can easily choose to create tight bonds with other students in the program through study groups, day hikes, nights of salsa dancing, etc. while also using this opportunity to build connections with their home-stay families and make friends within the local community. Since attending this program I have had the opportunity to teach English, lead ecological education trips, work with a local government and write for a newspaper on Mexican culture and politics while continuing to live in Latin America. Whatever you are looking for, this program can take you there if you allow it to.
- Mike Woods
Although I am neither a Spanish nor Political Science major; the experiences and learning opportunities I had in Patzcuaro will stay with me. Being in another culture and seeing their outlook, first hand; while studying the history, reasons behind politics, and racial biases; gave me the chance to step out of my comfort zone of reasoning and create a new lens of reason to see the world more subjectively. Learning about Mexico while in Mexico helped me to become better prepared to look at U.S. policies, a little closer with more understanding. Mexico and the social and academic experiences I had there have changed my outlook on Mexico and her people. Though it is an academic program; there is so much more to it then that. I enjoyed all my time in Mexico and all the things I was able to experience while there.
Joshua Anderson, 2012
Joining Professor Haber in Mexico was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It was everything I hoped for and then some. Patzcuaro was truly an amazing place and I feel I made relationships that will last my lifetime. I cannot say enough about my host family and the friends I acquired along the way. As for class, Professor Haber provides a wealth of knowledge and shines a light on a variety of issues that are relevant, regardless of where you are from in the world. You will not leave Patzcuaro without feeling replete with perspective and the desire to return as quickly as possible. I am forever grateful for being provided the opportunity to travel and discover the beauty that is Patzcuaro.
Shane Oleary, 2012
The trip to Mexico was a great experience. I have traveled all over the world and this trip is definitely near the top of great international experiences. The people in Patzcuaro are very kind and wonderful. I am already missing the street food, but I really miss the market. I have never had a better pineapple or mango in my life. Then there is Antonio the barber. Guys, if you have never had a straight razor shave, I say go for it. It cost me around $3, give or take. $6 if I wanted my face and whole head shaved, which I had done twice (and that is with a big gringo tip). The political science classes were fun, interactive, and incorporated some great reading. Paul brings a great dynamic to the courses that allows students to express their opinions. The Spanish classes are fast paced, but the instructors are some of the best people I met in all of Mexico. I have already recommended the adventure to other students. I myself am a nontraditional student so don’t let that stop you. Additionally, do not be discouraged if your Spanish is lacking. The people in the town go out of their way to assist visitors. And one great part, it is not a tourist trap, so you get to feel real Mexico.
Jim Robison, 2012
Living in Patzcuaro is definitely a rewarding and unique experience! You're away from the hustle & bustle of big city life in a region that is truly different from what most American tourists see on their visits to Mexico. People are very friendly and hospitable in Patzcuaro, which makes adjusting to living there so much easier if you're up for some new experiences. The political science classes were supplemented with real life discussion with migrants and wonderful insight from the CELEP teachers. Ask Paco, the CELEP director, on his view of Mexican politics, and you will be in for a spirited discussion! Take advantage of your free afternoons to explore the surrounding towns & get a taste for the state of Michoacan. If you love Montana and enter the program with an open mind, you might just find yourself falling in love with Michoacan. It is such a beautiful region with a rich history and culture. Plus, 6 weeks is just enough time to experience a taste of living abroad, then return to the states or travel afterwards. You can't go wrong on this trip!
Carolyn Gray, 2012
My experience in Patzcuaro, Michoacan Mexico was truly unforgettable. I have been lucky enough to travel in a few different Spanish speaking countries this past year but Mexico provided a truly challenging, thought provoking and colorful experience. The academic component of the study abroad trip to Patzcuaro gives the trip a depth that you would not be able to find on your own. Paul continually relates our class material to relevant examples and sets up field trips that are enjoyable and educational. I loved my host mom and sister. We were able to develop a wonderful relationship over my 6 week stay. Obviously the language experience was invaluable. Being comfortable travelling/eating/conversing in a Spanish speaking country is something I really appreciate from my trip.
Mexico is one of those places that imprinted on my memory, its smells, tastes, sights, paradoxes and people. Many people think of Mexico as spring break central-Corona, tequila, food and sex. But I would encourage you to travel to Patzcuaro and take a deeper look; Mexico is a complex country- have fun exploring!
Emily Gutierrez, 2011
Mexico was a fantastic experience. I learned way more than I ever would in a classroom setting in Montana. Professor Haber really knows the area and the locals, which makes the trip a lot more fun.
Caitlin Herold, 2011
The Mexico Summer Abroad program exposed me to another culture I wouldn't have been able to see otherwise. The small class sizes provided a support group and the friendships formed in Mexico don't end once the program ends. Paul provides a variety of field trips that will appeal to people of all interests. The town of Patzcuaro is a friendly community. People just want to talk to you and get to know what your life in the US is like. The shops in the mercado and at Once Patios provide a variety of opportunities to get to know the culture. When I left to go to Mexico, I was a little nervous about safety, but Patzcuaro is a fairly safe town and I never felt in danger there.
Hannah Grover, 2011
The Mexico Program was a great opportunity to learn about another country and culture by living with a Mexican family and taking two political science class taught by Professor Haber and one spanish class which was taught by a native speaker. Besides the classes there were many field trips that were a lot of fun, such as the beach trip and hiking the volcano. I really appreciated the opportunity to learn about another culture, meet new people, and earn 10 credits during my summer vacation.
Ben Ehlers, 2011
The study abroad program with Paul was so much more than just taking classes in Mexico! The real-life experiences with the people of Mexico helped to polish and perfect the use of the language in a way one just cannot experience in a U.S. classroom. I especially enjoyed my Spanish class because I could get instant information or correction as I was using the language. Talking with people and then having that one-on-one instruction from a teacher who is a native Spanish speaker really helps clarify understanding of the language.
Also, Paul's presentations of the politics of Mexico were very informative and help one to understand the country itself. In order to understand the country, it is essential to understand its history; and Paul clearly presented information that helped us to understand some of the present-day conflicts through understanding the past. One of my best experiences was being able to sit down and talk with people about their lives in Mexico and being able to find out how the people of Mexico view the United States. Paul took us to several places that facilitated some excellent conversations on topics such as immigration, the environment, and development in poor countries. I will never forget those one-on-one question and answer times.
Paul kept us well-informed of what was happening for trip preparation and during the trip so that we felt comfortable knowing what was happening next. There was freedom to explore on our own to explore cultural activities such as art expositions, music performances, etcetera. The food was wonderful! The people were so kind and helpful. I will always remember my host family. They will remain a special part of my life.
Be prepared to do a lot of walking — especially if you are not in your twenties! Be willing to experience new things. Don't expect to have the same conveniences as you have in the U.S. Be prepared to drop your preconceived ideas of the people of Mexico. Be objective. Don't let the taxi driver overcharge you! Bring along a friend who can experience the entire trip with you! Pack light and have fun!
Karen Perlinger 2010
Pablo's Mexico program combines the best elements of a semester abroad and a semester here at U of M. Students are immersed in Mexican culture but Pablo's classes are very intensive and relevant to a whole host of majors. Patzcuaro is an incredibly beautiful and safe city. It is a wonderful mix of modernity and Mexican tradition and everyday the ideas that are discussed in class are illustrated in the city's people and culture. Almost everyone there is interesting and accommodating for Americans. I would try to describe the food but I realize I have no chance at doing it justice. Bottom line, if you are interested in a summer that is really fun and academically rigorous at the same time, this program is for you.
Haynes Hansen 2010
I cannot put into words the feelings and events I experienced during my time in Mexico. I could tell you about the wonderful food, the people and all the sites of Mexico but it would do none of it justice. The only way to fully understand what I, and many other students, have experienced is to simply take the plunge and jump into this program with wild abandon. You will get so much more out of it if you are willing to put aside all your preconceived notions of the world as you know it. Be willing to put yourself out there, express yourself in another culture and language, and take the time to try something new (such as cow tongue-do it, I dare you). You could take a course on Mexico in Missoula, or you could actually live what you learn. No other educational program offers you this opportunity. Pablo challenges you to look not only inside yourself for what you believe but also challenges you to take those beliefs and apply them to your surroundings. This trip changed my outlook on life and my view on the world, but like I said, you have to experience it to really understand it.
Amber Henning 2009
My experience in Pátzcuaro changed my life, and made me a better person!
Stephen Simpson 2009
Participating in the Summer Mexico program was definitely a fantastic experience on multiple fronts. First, while the Spanish classes are intensive they are fun and immersing yourself in a language that is not your own while not in class is a great way to learn. Second, the classes with Pablo are a completely different experience than most of those in Missoula. Not only are they smaller and more intimate than most classes, which allows for a more interactive relationship between students and professor, but the material that is covered is directly relevant to your surroundings and experiences. Finally, Mexico is a beautiful, vibrant, special place with an extremely rich history, friendly people, great food, and is currently very dynamic in many ways. Having the chance to spend time there, whether in Pátzcuaro or traveling around other parts of the country, is an opportunity that should not be missed.
Aaron Augsburger 2009
Going in to the program I felt very comfortable with all the pre-trip preparations, Pablo was very willing to help everyone get ready for the adventure ahead. Having never spent an extended amount of time in another country I had obvious concerns, language, safety, school, etc... However, this really made the experience even richer, because I was able to problem solve as situations arose. Pátzcuaro is a great place to call home for the six weeks, and is also a great hub that allows for some great side trips, both planned and unplanned. The school work was very manageable and the classes were very relevant to everything around us. Having only taken about a year of classroom Spanish I was a bit nervous about my skills, but believe me there is no better way to learn than to immerse yourself in the language, and almost everyone in town, after they realized that you were putting forth the effort to speak Spanish, really enjoyed helping. I could go on but you should read other people's too. Get down there and enjoy yourself, and all you cribbage players...get ready for some late night cribs in the beach cabins with Pablo.
Jamison Hutchens 2008
Studying in Mexico summer 2008 proved to be a worthwhile experience that bypassed all of my original expectations of studying abroad. I lived in a Cabana two blocks away from the Plaza Chica in the center of Pátzcuaro with a family I'll never forget. Public transportation made the surrounding areas very accessible; I could take a "combie" anywhere in town, from the Lake to the Loma, and buses left everyday for surrounding towns and cities making it easy to take in Pereputan ruins, natural splendor, and modern markets after class. Classes themselves were rewarding in that they directly related to my current situation. The information transcended from the class discussions into daily conversations with my family and my local friends. My confidence in speaking the language rose substantially, enriching the experience as I was able to engage the locals in conversation. For me, one of the most valuable attributes one can have is being able to look at the world through another's eyes. This ability does not surface from the pages of a textbook, but rather from the places, peoples, and situations we encounter within our lifetimes. The more we step outside of our comfort zone and the normalcy of day to day life, the more perspective we will have on the world. Here lies the perfect opportunity for that first baby step outside your box.
Ashley Mahoney 2008
The summer that I spent in Pátzcuaro was the most memorable and rewarding of all my University experiences. The opportunities offered by this program are too numerous to describe. I learned more Spanish in my one semester in Pátzcuaro than in three years of University classes. The immersion based learning environment provided by the small class sizes at CELEP language school, coupled with the experience of living with a host family in Pátzcuaro made learning a new language easy. In addition to the Spanish you will learn, this program will gives you the opportunity to work with one of the premier experts on Latin American Development Economics, (by the end he might even let you call him Pablo or Red Beard). Paul Haber's extensive experience in the region has allowed him to make many contacts that you will meet during some of the field trips. These field trips provided real world examples of the lessons we learned every day in class. This trip as well as being extremely rewarding academically, was also really fun. I spent much of my free time eating delicious tacos from street venders, lounging on the beach, and even got to ski down a volcano! I would seriously recommend this trip to anyone; you will leave Mexico with many lifelong memories and friends.
Morgan Phelps, 2007
For anyone looking for an academically enriching and culturally exciting way to spend your summer, Pátzcuaro's summer program would be perfect. The Spanish classes are well taught and focused, creating an environment where you can easily double your knowledge of the language in six weeks. The home-stays are also an invaluable experience as you get a chance to practice your Spanish daily and also have the opportunity to make real familial connections with an amazing and inviting group of people. While you can't expect Paul's classes to be a breeze, you can expect to learn an amazing amount about contemporary Mexican politics and international development policy. Finally, the field-trips are an excellent way to escape the classroom and see some parts of Mexico that tourists rarely visit. I would highly recommend this program to anyone who is looking for an alternative way to spend their summer.
Angela Downing 2007
I had high expectations traveling to Mexico with Professor Haber in 2006. I had never been to Mexico, I had only taken one political science class, and I had never lived been out of the country for more than a few weeks before. From beginning to end, my expectations were not only met, but surpassed in all aspects. The information I learned in those six weeks about Mexican-American relations has been directly applicable in both my academic and personal life since then. Obviously, my Spanish greatly improved, and I also made lasting connections with a variety of individuals, both Mexican and American. Living in Pátzcuaro was most definitely one of the highlights of my undergraduate career.
Tessa Larson 2006
I would recommend the Summer Study Abroad Program in Pátzcuaro to any student who is interested in Latin American politics, culture, or the Spanish language. The benefit of living with a Mexican family and using Spanish not only in a classroom setting but in everyday circumstances is immeasurable. Professor Haber (Paul or Pablo as you will learn to call him) does an excellent job of demonstrating how issues like immigration, trade and other economic policies affect peoples' lives on both sides of the border. Paul's extensive accumulated knowledge of Mexican politics and culture and the diverse resources provided for each course help to create lively and informative discussions in every session. Of course, it's not all about learning. The opportunities for sightseeing and new experiences in one of the most architecturally and gastronomically rich regions of the country are endless, and you won't mind lounging at Playa Las Gatas or snorkeling in the Pacific either! Anyone who participates in this program will improve his Spanish, increase his knowledge of the region, and make great memories for a lifetime.
Brent Epperson 2006
From the taco stand on Ibarra Street to Paul's classes on development in the global south this program was quite possibly one of the greatest experiences that I have had in my collegiate career. It sometimes is difficult to understand how academic theory applies to people's lives and this program does a fantastic job at bridging this gap. By living with a family, taking classes, visiting the beach, and just enjoying life in Mexico this Paul and this program will rock your world.
Dustin Leftridge 2006
I arrived in Pátzcuaro without any experience speaking Spanish outside of my classes at the University of Montana. After six weeks of living with a Mexican family, taking three hours of language classes a day, and talking with people in the streets, markets and buses, I arrived in the United States and at first had a hard time speaking English. Bettering my Spanish skills was one reason I went to Mexico; to have a good time was the other. Both were satisfied. The things I was able to do and sights I was able to see in Mexico just made me want to explore the country more, and six weeks was not enough time. I enjoyed leaving Pátzcuaro for other cities like Morelia and Guadalajara, but my favorite was the beach and Zihuatanejo. My family is way into scuba diving, so I have gone with them to some pretty high class tropical destinations, but I have never been in any sea that was the "just right" temperature like the water in Zihuatanejo. The accommodations at "Las Gatas" are ideal for college students, the snorkeling in front of the beach side lodging is full of fish, and speaking of fish, there are big tunas offshore and even bigger sail fish farther out. The time in Zihuatanejo was definitely the highlight of the trip, and quite honestly made coming back to class difficult. What surprised me about the Mexican people were the similarities, rather than the differences, to Americans. Just switch the labels on the beer bottles, and change the football to futbol. The more laid-back Mexican culture permeates all aspects of life down there, including the mind sets of the people, but personalities strongly resembled those of people I knew back home. But the differences, starting with the vivid street life in Mexico as opposed to that of two streams of 35mph traffic in the United States, made me appreciate other countries and cultures more, as well as my own. I was looking forward to, and did not know what to expect of Mexican food. Of the special dishes I ate there, I was never really impressed, but back here in Montana I will never look at a mango, avocado, glass of orange juice, or even a taco quite the same. My trip to Pátzcuaro was my first step towards traveling in a Spanish-speaking country, and I am now more than ever wanting to travel further. In that, I also know that I will always have a place to stay with the friends I made last summer, should my travels take me back through Pátzcuaro.
Patrick Cross 2005
The summer program in Pátzcuaro was one of the best experiences I have had to date. I had the opportunity to live in a sixteenth century house with a great family that treated me as family. I had free time after my studies to explore the town and surrounding areas. The classes are small, therefore allowing for a lot of one-on-one time with the teacher in a stress free environment which helped to promote analytical thinking among the students. The town of Pátzcuaro is small in comparison with the US but offers everything a person would want all within walking distance. This rural location offers the students a perfect prospective on the affect(s) that globalization is having on small rural communities not only in Mexico but throughout Central and South America. Besides showing the bad side of globalization, the class also shows what actions are being taken to rectify the adverse affects of globalization by grassroots organizations like CELEP, the office of the mayor of Pátzcuaro, fabrication plants that sell only naturally made goods, local farmers groups and political action committees. Thru trips to surrounding communities, students get a first person perspective on what is happening around them locally and how this is influenced from localization all of the way to globalization and how the agreements between governments adversely affect change in these areas both positive and negative. I highly recommend this experience to anyone who is willing to study hard and play hard while learning history, politics, and culture in a relaxed setting.
Justin Baker 2004
The Pátzcuaro program forced me to think, from the linguistic difficulties of just getting-by and understanding, to the academic challenges of grappling with ideas about economic and political development. One of our group field trips was to San Juan, where we visited and spoke with members of a community-led logging operation, an operation which has proved economically viable and environmentally sustainable for over two decades. As a UM student, both the small, engaging CELEP language classes and the seminar-style political science courses were refreshing.
Cyrus Cohea 2004
Summer school in Mexico, what's not to love? Spending six weeks in Pátzcuaro was amazing. Not only was Prof. Haber a fabulous professor, the courses were great and as soon as I stepped out of class I was still learning so much about Mexico. And if the superb learning opportunity doesn't hook you, the five-day beach vacation will. It was an unforgettable experience.
Chris Landa 2004
The program in Mexico was excellent. I learned more Spanish living there than I learned in school. I would go to sleep thinking in Spanish if I did not just finish reading for my Haber assignments. Sometimes the work Paul gave us was a bit long. However, what should you expect from Paul and a 300-400 level class? Besides that, the experience of living and learning the culture was excellent. When you are there you will get placed with a family. This will lead to many engaging conversations. So get ready to speak Spanish and have fun!
Michael Mueller 2003
I'd say the following about the program. I'd recommend it to any student who enjoys Spanish and who has passion for politics in Mexico. The value of this program is experiencing another culture, improving Spanish language skills, and examining Mexico's political climate in a critical and global perspective. The program is a good life experience and something that can vastly change an attitude in preconceptions of Mexico and its political atmosphere. Living and going to school in Pátzcuaro is a fun and informative time.
I can say with great confidence that my experience in Pátzcuaro was one of the most rewarding academic opportunities during my collegiate years. As we all know Pablo will challenge his students to push themselves beyond their comfort zone, but always in a supportive way. And the great thing is that you are constantly immersed in the culture and language that you are studying. all the while you have plenty of opportunity to break away from the books and just live in the moment and, of course, hit the beach. I would recommend this trip to any UM student; it is a unique experience.
Matt Anderson 2002
Summer session in Pátzcuaro, with Professor Paul Haber, is an incredible experience for any student interested in Latin American cultures and the complicated relations that exist between the United States and our southern neighbor, Mexico. There is no better way to see the interdependence of these two nations and understand the effects that policies in either country can and do have on the other than to live in Mexico, and spend time and talk with people about their lives and culture. The home stay provides students with a unique insight into local culture and guarantees that students will be well taken care of with authentic Mexican hospitality. All field trips within and around Pátzcuaro gives students the opportunity to see the region and further their understanding of its people and history. For students of the Spanish language time spent in a Spanish speaking country is invaluable to the learning process. Being immersed in the Spanish language is the most effective way to further ones understanding of it. This program is amazing in many ways. The academic side of it is excellent with thorough explanations and discussions of the topics at hand in the classroom which are then complimented with field trips and authentic examples of the issues being studied. Culturally the program provides a unique experience of living with a Mexican household and sharing ideas and thoughts with them. I would strongly recommend this program to any student wishing to expand their horizons.
Jake Arnolds 2000