IMC and Journalism Professors Lead Students Abroad

37 students travel with professors for once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in Spain

A group photo of students and professors in Toledo, Spain on their last day before returning home. Submitted photo.

OXFORD, Miss. – A group of University of Mississippi students recently returned from a monthlong trip across Spain, where they learned about travel and international writing and communications.  

Jason Cain, interim chair of integrated marketing communications in the School of Journalism and New Media, has organized experiential study abroad trips since 2018, with previous groups traveling to Ireland and Italy and to Prague. He previously coordinated study abroad trips as a graduate student at the University of Florida.  

“After a couple of years at Ole Miss, I felt duplicating a similar program here was a real possibility,” he said. “Two of the larger issues students face with study abroad are, obviously, the cost and if courses will apply to your degree. The idea with large-format programs is that the cost goes down as enrollment goes up.” 

This year, 37 students and four professors traveled across Spain, making stops in places such as Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia.

IMC and journalism professors pose for a selfie. L to R_ Mark Dolan, R.J. Morgan, Jason Cain, and Chris Sparks.

Mark Dolan, associate professor of journalism, taught smartphone photography; R.J. Morgan, instructional associate professor of journalism, taught writing with a voice; Chris Sparks, instructional associate professor of IMC, taught global brands; and Cain taught international communication.  

“Spain is an absolute gem of a country with a fascinating history,” Cain said. “It’s also quite affordable compared to the rest of Western Europe. This year, we spent a lot of time discussing the internet as simply an evolution of the market you would see in any town square.  

With Spain in particular, it’s easy to forget that this was, for a time, the richest, arguably most important country in the world. You can still feel both that former glory and the impact of its decline while there, as well as the ongoing growth after spending much of the 20th century under a dictatorship. The latter fact always shocks students when they learn about it.” 

During the week, students were in the classroom with a few field trips such as cooking classes and tours of museums. The weekends included group excursions but also free time to explore Spain on their own. One group even traveled to Paris for a long weekend. 

That group included Madalyn Dudley, a senior from Bronston, Kentucky, double majoring in IMC and public policy leadership.  

“I am walking away from this trip with a desire to continue to explore Europe because I am fascinated with its people, culture and heritage,” she said. “Dr. Cain said during our final group dinner, ‘Traveling on trips like this is what helps you realize that there is more to the world out there.’  

“I could not agree more. I am leaving Spain with a much larger grasp on not only the Spanish language and practices, but also with a deeper appreciation for the way that the Spanish relax and enjoy their lives.” 

Students take a cooking class while in Barcelona. L to R_ Carson Miller, Chloe Calo, Julia Mulhern, and LT Whittington. Photo by Mark Dolan.

Catherine Romaine graduated with her bachelor’s in IMC on May 13 and then boarded the plane for Barcelona on May 15.  

“I signed up for the study abroad trip as a freshman, but it was canceled due to the pandemic,” the Abbeville, Louisiana, native said. “Luckily, I was able to attend the trip this year, at a time when I am much more appreciative of a new culture and the skills I’m learning than I would’ve been as a freshman. I was excited that the classes being offered were pertaining to IMC as a whole and were transferable to real-life careers. 

“Though we are based in Barcelona, we have taken multiple trips outside the city as a group. We spent a weekend in Valencia and took day trips to Tarragona and Toledo. Each was unique and added an element of surprise to the everyday schedules that we were getting accustomed to in Barcelona.” 

While Cain has a few dream countries in mind for next year’s trip, he said he would like to start a repeating rotation as the school begins to form relationships with connections in each country. 

“I hope these trips open students to the true scale of the world and that they are very much a part of it,” Cain said. “I think having to live somewhere completely different, at least on the surface, from Oxford and an ocean away for a month has a reifying effect. They have to learn the metro, shop for groceries, get to know their neighbors, all the things you have to do when you are part of a community.  

“While we do have regular classroom periods and a pretty exhausting list of excursions and daily activities, I think, ultimately, the real learning comes from learning you can survive somewhere that initially seems completely foreign.”