Total Immersion Spanish Travel Study Program


Morelia, Michoacán, México

July 31 – August 19



·         Introduction

·         Instructional Program

·         Curriculum

·         Morelia

·         Travel

·         Housing

·         Travel Requirements

·         Travel Tips

·         More Information



The Morelia Summer Program is one of many summer travel/study programs which Dr. José Reyna, Professor of Spanish, California State University, Bakersfield, has directed since 1984 in Mexico (Morelia Summer Institute, Morelia Summer Program), Spain (Granada Summer Institute), and South America (South American Experience - Brazil, Argentina, Chile).

The program is designed to give participants the opportunity to live in a Spanish-speaking country while studying the language and culture. Over the years we have had participants of all ages and from many walks of life, and with different individual needs. Some wish to visit a region of Mexico which is somewhat off the beaten path, others wish to improve their Spanish, and still other need to satisfy academic and professional requirements.  Therefore, the program offers not only language classes (beginning, intermediate and advanced), but also literature and culture courses.



Methods of teaching foreign languages have evolved from the ancient grammar-translation method to the audio-lingual method in the mid-twentieth century and, most recently, the Natural Approach. Of course, there are also popular -- and not-so-popular opinions about how to best learn, and teach, foreign languages, e.g., the "sink-or-swim" method. No one, however, disputes the fact that immersion in the target language is the best way to learn a second language, and to enhance classroom instruction. Indeed, the object of the most recent methodologies is to attempt to replicate the "natural" way of "acquiring" a native language. Unfortunately, language acquisition simply cannot be replicated in the classroom. Hence, the rationale for, and popularity of travel/study programs, in which the learner lives with the people and actually absorbs the language and culture -- the sights, sounds, aromas, tastes, the pace of life, the entire milieu.

 In addition to beginning, intermediate and advanced language courses, Summer Program in Mexico offerings include courses in Mexican literature and Mexican culture and civilization. All courses may be used to satisfy requirements in Spanish, Liberal Studies and other fields of study, as well as professional requirements such as California CLAD and BCLAD for credential candidates. Califronia State University Bakersfield Extended University units are transferable to any college or university.

Also available are special tours tailored to the needs of high school and college groups, as well as tours and special seminars for educators and business groups. These include “survival” Spanish lessons, history and culture classes, local and area tours, and weekend tours to major cities in Michoacán, Guanajuato and Jalisco.



The courses listed below may be taken for CSUB Extended University credit.*  All are 5 unit courses. Students may register for a maximum of 10 units  during the three-week session. Upper Division courses may be counted as electives for the Spanish major at CSUB.

Spanish 391 Beginning Intensive Spanish 

An introduction to the fundamentals of Spanish language and Hispanic cultures. Development of the basic skills: listening, speaking, reading, writing.

Spanish 392 Intermediate Intensive Spanish 

A continuation of Beginning Intensive Spanish. A review of fundamentals, oral practice, reading of selected texts, written exercises. Prerequisite: Beginning Spanish or two years of high school Spanish or the equivalent.

Spanish 393 Advanced Intensive Spanish 

 A continuation of Intermediate Intensive Spanish. A review of fundamentals, oral practice, reading of selected texts, written exercises. Prerequisite: Intermediate Spanish or three years of high school Spanish or the equivalent.

Spanish 395 Mexican Culture and Civilization 

 An overview of  arts, literature, customs, institutions and technology, past and present, as they affect the development of Mexican culture and civilization from its beginnings to the present. Prerequisite: Intermediate Spanish or the equivalent, or permission of the instructor.

Spanish 396 Mexican Literature  

An introductory survey of selected literary works, authors, and genres from Mexican literature. Prerequisite:  Intermediate Spanish, or permission of the instructor.

*Extended University credit fee: $45.00 per unit. Advising, placement, registration and payment of Extended University unit fees of first class day in Morelia.


MORELIA (from the Internet)

 Morelia, with its long, wide boulevards and earth-tone colonial mansions, is the gracious capital of the state of Michoacán. Founded in 1541 as Valladolid (named after the Spanish city), it changed its name in 1828 in honor of José María de Morelos, the town's most famous son. The legendary mule skinner-turned-priest took up the battle for independence after its early leaders were executed in 1811.

Morelos began his fight with an ill-equipped army of 25 but soon organized a contingent of nine thousand that nearly gained control of the country. Though he was defeated and executed by the Spaniards in 1815, he left a long-standing tradition, a reformist legacy that called for universal suffrage, racial equality, and the demise of the hacienda system.

Today the city continues to pay tribute to Morelos. His former home has been turned into a museum, and his birthplace is now a library. Although Morelia's colonial heritage is preserved by its status as a national monument, the city is also forward-thinking. It is the site of politically liberal university (one of six public and private universities in the city) that often holds rallies in support of social an political causes. Look closely along Avenida Madero and you'll see political posters, fliers and slogans on many buildings.

In addition, Morelia has the delicious distinction of being the candy capital of Mexico. In fact, so strong is the tradition of sweets that the city is home to the Mercado de Dulces, or candy marketplace. If you want to sample some local confections (candied fruit or evaporated milk) at the Mercado, walk over to Calle Gómez Farías (three blocks west and a half-block north from the main plaza).

Morelia, home to many writers, artists, philosophers, poets, tens of thousands of university students, a large middle- and upper-class of business people and professionals, as well as American retirees, has a population of approximately one million. Yet, it is a relatively quiet, peaceful, slow-paced city with many sidewalk cafes, restaurants, daily cultural events--museums, opera, ballet, plays, concerts, recitals, exhibits--many of them free or very inexpensive! Most venues are walking distance from the colonias where our students live, or you can take a taxi just about anyplace for about a dollar.

Finally, Morelia is also a (usually) short and inexpensive bus trip to a number of interesting, colorful, and exciting places -- Pátzcuaro, Uruapan, Santa Clara del Cobre, Paracho, Guanajuato and León (the latter two in the neighboring state of Guanajuato), and Guadalajara (in the state of Jalisco)--each with its own character and attractions.

Travel -- U.S. to Morelia

There are reasonably priced fares from Los Angeles and other cities to Morelia. Participants traveling with the group usually leave LAX on a Mexicana midnight flight on the Saturday before the start of classes, arriving about 5 a.m. Sunday morning. You may make arrangements through a travel agent of your choice. However, be advised that fares increase quite a bit in June. Also, you may travel by any means, as long as you arrive in time to begin classes. Everyone will be given contact names and addresses before leaving.


During their stay in Morelia, participants live with non-English speaking families (one or two students per family). Although housing fees cover room and board only, families go above and beyond the obligation, usually providing personal assistance and tutoring, help with laundry service, giving our students walking tours of their neighborhood and city, sometimes out-of-town trips and outings (picnics, family gatherings, weddings, bullfights, etc.) and shopping trips. Our families anxiously await the arrival of our students, and instantly take them in as they would a member of their own family. Program participants invariably return to the U.S. raving about “their family” in Mexico.

Travel Requirements:

- Valid passport, tourist permit, or birth certificate (certified copy), with photo ID. Voter registration card not accepted as proof of citizenship. 

- No vaccinations required, but hepatitis vaccination recommended.

Travel Tips

1.      Arrive two hours before departure.

2.      Be prepared for long lines (departing and arriving).

3.      Be prepared for inspections (documents, baggage) anytime, anyplace.

4.      Exchange currency before departing U.S. ($100 startup recommended) at airport.

5.      Save enough cash for your return trip--cab fare, tips, airport fee, incidentals.

6.      While in Mexico, always carry enough pesos to get you back to your residence.

7.      Keep any special medical information / medication on you at all times.

8.      Carry your own teabags, sweeteners, or other specialty/personal items.

9.      Carry names/phones/addresses of contact persons (both in U.S. and Mexico) at all times--in case you get lost--it happens.

10.  Be aware of business hours (banks, stores, shops, etc.).

11.  Summer weather in Michoacán is mild, but be prepared for rain and cool weather.

12.  Attire--whatever you wear in the U.S.

For more information or application contact:

Dr. José Reyna
Department of  Modern  Languages and  Literatures
California State University, Bakersfield
Bakersfield, CA  93311-1099

Ph. 661-664-2358


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 Photos by Mary Cavazos-Reyna