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