Students learn about living, learning in Peru, Scotland

Sara Myers, General Staff

Have you ever wondered what it is like to study abroad? Or even what it is like to be a professor in a new teaching environment? Michael Momot and Bob Schmitt, engineering professors at The University of Wisconsin-Platteville, held an open forum on Oct. 15 in the Markee Pioneer Student Center where students could learn what it was like to live and teach in the Peru and Scotland.

The first to speak was Momot at the forum, who travelled to Scotland to teach Platteville students along with others from the international program at Dalkeith Palace.

“All classes have Scottish components to them,” Momot said. “They must take a Scottish culture course.”

Students only attend class for four days out of the week, so they get longer weekends unlike colleges and universities in America. On weekends, students have the opportunity to take trips to places like Norway, for example.

On the campus however, there were also a lot of activities to participate in. In the dining halls, the group would participate in a “cèilidh,” which is similar to a square dance. This is quite common at major events and weddings in Scotland. Every year there would be activities like cross country events and horseback riding for students to participate in.

Scotland rarely gets snow. The weather is rarely above 68 degrees or below 32 degrees. Since the drinking age is 18, most of the students are able to go to the bars on the weekends, but students are warned to be careful.

“Scots will drink you under the table,” Momot said.

A sight exactly one mile from the school is the Hollywood Palace. This is where the Queen stays when the royal family visits the country. There are tons of museums, theatres, ballets and shopping centers all around Scotland for students to get involved with. They have two soccer stadiums in Edinburgh. Momot offered advice for students who want to study abroad.

“Have a theme, be spontaneous, travel light and talk to people,” Momot said.

Schmitt taught in Peru during the 2014 spring semester, which lasted from March to July. He taught at Universidad de Piura, translated into English as the University of Piura. His goal was to help spread engineering knowledge throughout the country. There were construction projects in the Amazon as well as other dangerous spots in the country that put building construction at high risk.

Peru has a population of a little more than 30 million people and has a low population density. It is measured at 496,200 square miles, which is about the size of Alaska.

“The university has around 7,000 students and is one of the top five universities in Peru,” Schmitt said.

The university is private and has a strict dress code. In Peru they have a very dry climate and is almost always just below 90 degrees.

The main campuses of the university are located in the cities of Piura and Lima. They have a lot of animals around on the campus. Some of these animals include various types of reptiles, fox, ground owls, deer and peacocks that can be seen all over the campus grounds.

The students he taught on campus were very respectful.

“All students would stand up when you walk into the classroom,” Schmitt said.

There were a lot of activities to do. For example, they did a lot of swimming and even some running on the sands of Peru for exercise. The university shut down the campus for the FIFA World Cup. It was a huge event in Peru, and everyone watched and rooted for their country.  Schmitt brought his family along with him for the semester as well, and his kids went to school with the other kids in Peru.

Tristan Paynter, a freshman software engineering major found the forum to be very influential.

“It was very interesting, all they had to say. I’m interested in possibly learning overseas in the future,” Paynter said.

If you are interested in studying abroad be sure to contact the Education Abroad Office located on the first floor of Royce Hall.