Don’t miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the incredibly diverse communities and cultures found throughout the African continent. Study abroad options offered through UW’s International Academic Programs ensure students will have a rich and satisfying academic experience that may include internships, intensive language acquisition, or independent study projects. As a result, participants expand their historical, political, and cultural awareness; build lasting relationships; and become well-informed citizens ready and able to participate in our global society.
Prospective African Cultural Studies Students
Beginning in fall 2023, the African Cultural Studies major will require two semesters of an African language. For this reason, interested students should keep in mind that study abroad provides a number of options that can accomplish different goals, depending on the student’s interest.
- Intensive language study: typically offered in summer, these programs are designed to provide language instruction as the sole focus. While there will always be a cultural component, the intent of this experience is to rapidly improve language acquisition. Students can usually expect to complete two semesters of language through these programs.
- Semester-long language study: students choosing this option may begin a language while abroad or build upon their existing level. In any case, they have the added advantage of practicing both in and outside the classroom on a regular and consistent basis. Students who expect to continue language study upon return to campus are encouraged to check with the ACS advisor regarding the coursework to be sure they’re ready to continue in sequence.
- Limited language study: certain programs provide some basic language instruction but will often offer all other courses in English. This type of experience is valuable for someone looking to complement their existing knowledge of a particular region. For example, students interested in southern Africa may study Zulu while at Madison but choose to learn some basic Xhosa while abroad. Exposure to both broadens a student’s ability to communicate and enhances cultural awareness.
There are several scholarships supporting study of an African language, including the Boren Awards, the Critical Language Scholarship, and the Foreign Language Area Studies fellowship. Other funding resources can be found here.
While language study is significant, study of literature and culture are equally as important. Study abroad also offers students the opportunity to explore a wide variety of coursework in the humanities and social sciences and, most often, these courses will be taught in English. Students can certainly focus on these types of courses while abroad, perhaps having fulfilled the language requirement already and/or taking a break from language study.
To find out about all these options, the locations and timing, be sure to attend the many events hosted throughout the year by the Study Abroad office. Students who have narrowed down their choices should consult both with the Study Abroad advisor assigned to the specific program locations as well as meeting with the major advisor.
African Cultural Studies Course Considerations Abroad
The best way to ensure courses students choose will transfer back as expected is to check ahead of time, before a student leaves Madison. Scroll down to the “Academics” tab found at the bottom of each program page and refer to the list of pre-approved courses and course information provided by the site itself. Using this information in consultation with an advisor is the best way to make sure course choices will accomplish a student’s academic goals.
In general, remember that this may be the sole opportunity a student gets to study at this particular institution. With that in mind, choose a variety of courses that appeal to not only study in the major, but also address interests that further expand knowledge of the country and culture.
Mapping Your Study Abroad Experience as an African Cultural Studies Major
At this point, most students are just beginning to explore their interest areas and find out where their skills and talents are best utilized. Anyone having an interest in African languages and cultures is encouraged to take our African 100 course, Introduction to African Cultural Expression. Students can begin their language study at this point as well, though it’s not imperative; there is time to carefully consider which African language is most interesting. This conversation may be one to have with the major advisor.
In general, the more familiar students are with the history, politics, and overall diversity the African continent offers, the more prepared they will be to begin considering how an experience abroad fits into their academic plans. IAP hosts a number of open advising events and information sessions every semester, so make sure to attend some of these events to begin exploring options, gathering information, and finding resources.
By this point, many students are more comfortable identifying which majors or certificates fit their goals best. They are also developing a better sense of what it means to be fully engaged in a particular area of study. During the second year of college, it is best to begin exploring specific locations, length of programs, language of instruction, size of the college or university, academic rigor and course offerings, internship opportunities, and housing options. All of these factors contribute to determining the best fit for students’ educational expectations and overall goals. Students will also need to spend time with their academic advisors making certain the programs they are most interested in offer courses that keep them on track for completing their degree in four years.
The third year of college is the most popular time to go abroad, however, we want to encourage students to keep their options open. It is especially important that the timeframe and program selected fit the academic goals and plans for each specific student, so students have the best experience possible. For example, the language requirement can still be met this late in a student’s academic career; it just requires some planning. Students accepted to programs during any point in their academic careers are encouraged to check with their major advisor once they reach their sites and register for classes. We want to ensure that any changes or additions to course schedules keep the student on track to graduate.
The final year of a student’s college career can be an exciting time to go abroad. Most students have a very well-developed sense of themselves, their interest areas, strengths, and future career goals. Electing to go abroad at this point can solidify plans as well as allow for special experiences such as internships that play a part in career exploration. As an intern nearing graduation, students can be appealing candidates to hire. These experiences also lead to opportunities for networking and informational interviews. Again, if students are also planning to graduate, they must be sure to check with the advisor to ensure all requirements for graduation have been or can be met.
Questions to Ask
Your Academic Advisor
- What classes must I complete for my degree (breadth/depth, major requirements, etc.)?
- Do I need to be on UW-Madison’s campus for any courses in my major?
- How many electives do I have outside of my major?
Your Study Abroad Advisor
- What classes can I take abroad?
- How and when do I select courses for my program?
- When will I know course equivalents for my program?
- What is the class structure like abroad?
Identifying Programs That are Right for You
Explore the programs on the African continent below! Many of the programs in Africa have either a required or an optional host family living situation. This allows for greater language and cultural immersion.
Botswana, Gaborone / CIEE Community Public Health
Summer Program: Setswana language, Health course and Health Practicum
Semester Program: Setswana language, Health course and Health Practicum, health electives at the University of Botswana
Ghana, Legon / CIEE in Ghana
Summer Program: Twi language, two courses in the following: history, political science, health, music and dance
Semester/Academic Year Program: Twi language, Courses at the University of Ghana, optional internship
Jordan, Amman/ CIEE Advanced Arabic Language and Summer Arabic Language in Amman
Summer program: Arabic language
Semester/Academic Year program: Arabic language, selection of culture courses
Jordan, Amman/CIEE Middle East Studies in Amman
Semester/Academic Year program: Arabic language, elective courses, optional internship
Rwanda, Kigali / SIT Post Genocide Restoration and Peacebuilding
Semester: Kinyarwanda language, 2 core courses, independent study project
Senegal, Dakar/ UMN MSID International Development in Senegal
Semester/Academic Year Program: Wolof or French Language, Courses in Development studies, Internship or Research Project
*French Language Requirement
South Africa, Cape Town / University of Cape Town Exchange
Semester/Year program: Optional Zulu, Xhosa or Afrikaans language, wide variety of courses at the University of Cape Town
South Africa, Durban / SIT Community Health and Social Policy
Semester program: Zulu language, core course, independent study project
Tanzania, Zanzibar / SIT Coastal Ecology and Natural Resource Management
Semester program: Swahili language, course courses, independent study project
Tunisia, Sidi Bou Said/ SIT Politics and Religious Integration in the Mediterranean
Semester program: Arabic or French language, 2 core courses, independent study project
Short-term Programs with a global health component (no language taught on the program):
Ethiopia, Multiple / UW Community Health: Perspectives & Policies on Agriculture, Water & Nutrition in Ethiopia
Ghana, Multiple / UW Health & Food Systems: Human, Agricultural & Environmental Health in Ghana
Tanzania, Dar Es Salaam / UW Healthcare in Tanzania
Uganda, Mukono / UW Mobile Clinics & Health Care in Uganda
Uganda, Multiple / UW Agriculture, Health & Nutrition in Uganda