Colombia Purdue Initiative — CPI

Spanish immersion program at Universidad EAFIT


For more than 15 years, Universidad EAFIT in Medellin has been offering four-week intensive (4 hours per day) and semi-intensive (2 hours per day) Spanish courses for individuals who would like to be immersed in the Colombian culture and language. The EAFIT Spanish program is the first Colombian course to be certified by the Cervantes Institute in Spain. It offers a comprehensive structure for Spanish acquisition to learners of all levels. It also integrates a cultural component into the student’s experience, by visiting historic and touristic sites of the city once a week. A Buddy Program, which aims to ease the cultural and linguistic adaptation process of international students, matches foreign students with local EAFIT students.

Purdue faculty and students learning Spanish at EAFIT University in 2016 

As of this date, twenty Purdue representatives have participated in the EAFIT Spanish program and they all recommend it to others without reservation.

Carolyn Percifield, Director of Strategic Planning and Assessment of the College of Engineering at Purdue, took the Spanish course in 2015. She says that after a week of classes, she was able to see immediate improvement in her reading skills. “The intensity of the learning experience is like drinking Spanish through a fire hose, but the variety of resources to learn and practice speaking, listening, reading and writing are well-organized and the professors are excellent,” says Carolyn as she recalls her experience in Medellín between nostalgic smiles.

Purdue Professors Regena Scott and Edie Schmidt traveled to Colombia with nine Purdue Students in May 2016, as part of the Construction and Supply Chain Exploration study abroad program. They all participated in the EAFIT Spanish immersion course to gain basic language and cultural knowledge. “In addition to the Spanish lessons, we received a campus tour and met with Purdue students who were participating in the semester abroad program at EAFIT. We were also treated to tours of the city and the surrounding country side,” explains Dr. Scott as she recommends the program to other professors and students who are looking for Study Abroad opportunities.

Field trip to the Botero Plaza. Carolyn Percifield (second from right to left), her classmates and Spanish professor (first from right to left) participating in an interactive exhibit about clowns. Picture taken at the Antioquia Museum

Purdue Agricultural Economics professor, James Lowenberg-DeBoer took the EAFIT Spanish immersion course in 2016 as part of his preparation to lead the Orinoquía Initiative. He said the Spanish program facilitated his communication with locals across the country, and that he is now able to have simple conversations. “Spanish learners at EAFIT come from a wide range of ages and backgrounds. I was pleased to see that I was not the only ‘adult learner’,” adds Dr. Lowenberg-DeBoer. He recommends the program entirely, not only because of the quality of education, but because he was able to network with the EAFIT economics faculty. “My Spanish teacher at EAFIT, Jose Antonio Bedoya, was the best language teacher I have ever had. Because of my work, I have studied several languages over the years (i.e. German, French, Hausa, Spanish) and Bedoya was the best language teacher that I have encountered,” explains Dr. Lowenberg-DeBoer.

If you would like to participate in this program, you may register here, and contact the program staff via email ( for further guidance.

Purdue Students with Purdue professors Regena Scott and Edie Schmidt during the EAFIT Spanish course in 2016 .



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