College of Public Policy Abroad - students visit Spain

06.13.17

This summer marked a time to see other parts of the world to experience how public policy works on a broader scale.  A group of criminal Justice students along with one public administration student developed a deeper understanding of public policy implementation in parts of Spain.  From May 19 to May 25, 2017, students visited the premises of the Local Police Headquarters of Elche, a forensic lab, the prison, the Provincial Court of Alicante, Granada, and the Supreme Court of Madrid.   While abroad, students sat in on lectures given by various University and city officials.  The group also visited the Provincial Court in Alicante where they were given a presentation about common court cases and crime statistics in the surrounding area.   Here, students were able to make connections between the United States and Spain’s criminal justice systems.

Criminal justice student Alma Zuniga shares her personal experience:

We visited the National and Local police. The local police was interesting. We were able to visit the shooting range. I had never been in a room when a shot was fired (I guess that's a good thing), but at the local police we were with an officer who showed us firing drills. We weren't able to shoot ourselves, but it was interesting to see the officer. We interacted with the K9 unit and witnessed first-hand how they train the dogs to detect drugs in vehicles and on people. When we visited the National Police we visited their forensic lab, we saw how officers gear up for violent riots or events, and the differences between their police and ours.

We visited a prison as well. I think visiting the prison was my favorite aspect of the trip. It was so fascinating. Men and women are placed in the same prison. They sleep in different parts but they are both held in the same prison. Spain looks at the bigger picture, and I admire that. Spain allows prisoners to work their social security when they are in prison. Inmates work and earn the same wage as those outside of prison. This allows prisoners to support their families even when they are incarcerated. Spain's prison system wasn't so much for punishment but for rehabilitation. It had many programs for inmates to receive licenses once they were released. Even more fascinating, is that the Spain system allows for people to clear their crime history. If an inmate complies with certain requirements, Spain is able to erase their crime history. This allows people to start fresh. Very interesting!

We visited a university where we sat in on lecture. We interacted with 3 students from Spain and we were able to find differences and similarities in our school systems, music taste, Netflix tastes and much more. Unlike American students who pay thousands of dollars to attend the university, students in Spain only pay a $1,000/YEAR -- Not semester, per year. School is much cheaper there, but their unemployment rate is very high. They listen to music that we like, such as, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns n Roses, and many more.

We visited the Supreme Court, which was a beautiful sight. Many of the buildings in Spain are so detailed. Everything to them is art. We also visited the Alhamabra which is a palace in Granada. It was another beautiful sight! We were lucky enough to spot a famous singer. Ricky Martin was also touring the Alhambra at the same time we were. He had a private tour, but his tour guide was behind us. Overall this trip was wonderful, I never imagined I would be going to Spain and learning so much.

As a first-generation student I have always been so close to home. I had never been on a plane or been out of the country. If someone would have told me last year that I would be going to Spain, I would have never imagined it. This trip was full of so many firsts. I can only hope that I can be an example to my siblings and many other first-generation students. Even when things feel impossible, they are possible.

by Alma Zuniga

The College of Public Policy's study abroad experience is a great opportunity for students to develop a deeper understanding of public policy in another country, helping them to become more well-rounded graduates in an increasingly globalized world.

For more information, contact:

Roger Enriquez, J.D.
Associate Professor
Buena Vista Building (BV) 4.304
210.458.2691 voice
210.458.2680 fax
roger.enriquez@utsa.edu