The unique collaboration between UNT and the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, or UAEM, is taking an important step forward with the enrollment of the first UNT undergraduate student at UAEM in a semester exchange program.
Rosa Fonseca, a senior political science major, began her studies at UAEM earlier this spring.
Fonseca says, "I had planned to study abroad for a while but there never seemed to be a good time to do it. I wanted to study in Mexico, because even though I was born in that country, I never really lived in it. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity."
Fonseca chose to study in Toluca at UAEM because of its location.
"Since it is in the middle of the country, I can travel easily in any direction, plus the weather in Toluca was a big incentive as well. The UAEM political science program has a very good relationship with the one at UNT so I have academic support all the way around," she says.
Fonseca admitted it's been an adjustment going to school at UAEM. Even though she visited Mexico regularly, there was a culture shock.
"I had to adjust to starting school at 7 in the morning, crossing the street when the cars are still running, and to some extent the use of the Socratic method in the classroom. The teacher goes down the attendance list asking questions and if you don't answer you don't get credit. It's nerve-wracking, because I sometimes have trouble conversing in Spanish in an academic setting," Fonseca says.
Manuel Goel, director of national and international academic cooperation at UAEM, is excited about the new phase of the partnership.
He says, "We are enthusiastic about receiving more exchange students like Rosa, and we all feel quite honored to be chosen as the Mexican institution where they want to take one or two semesters of their respective programs. In fact, Rector Martinez Vilchis, the head of UAEM, recently announced we will build new dormitories so housing will be easier, better and readily available to all international students, professors and researchers."
In July 2002, UNT and UAEM signed an agreement to collaborate on the academic training of students from both institutions and in research projects in materials science, environmental science, physics and related fields. Goel says the collaboration has expanded to include political science, psychology and languages.
The agreement also called for both universities to establish joint graduate degree programs in materials science, environmental science and physics. As of fall 2007, UNT and UAEM offered their first joint program — a dual master's degree in the teaching of English as a second language.
The office for UAEM at UNT opened in 2005. Goel says, "Many universities in Mexico have collaborative academic agreements with colleges and universities in the U.S., but UAEM is the only one with an academic liaison office on the campus of an American university." The office promotes the exchange of students and scholars between UNT and UAEM by providing information, contacts and other assistance.
Located in Toluca, a city of two million people, 45 miles west of Mexico City, UAEM is one of the largest public universities in Mexico. The university has been educating professionals in all disciplines for 177 years, and offers a high school program, 58 undergraduate and 74 graduate degree programs. Total enrollment is about 49,000 students.
UNT News Service Press Release
Rafael McDonnell can be reached at RMcDonnell@unt.edu.