Study abroad student unpacks travel workshops


Elizabeth Torres, a junior French major that speaks four languages, plans to host travel workshops on campus. Photo credit: Dominique Diaz

Elizabeth Torres, a junior French major that speaks four languages, plans to host travel workshops on campus. Photo credit: Dominique Diaz

A Chico State student has hopes of opening her own school and hosting a series of travel workshops on campus.

Elizabeth Torres, a junior French major, speaks four languages, including French, Spanish and Portuguese. She is currently in the process of learning three more: Arabic, German and Italian.

Torres has spoken to different Chico organizations about opening her own school.

“I’m currently unsatisfied with the way languages are taught in the United States,” she said.

She studied abroad in France during the 2012-2013 academic year and hopes to use some of the country’s teaching methods when opening up her own vocational school, she said.

She wants to start a branch in south Spain and hopes that it’ll get big, since language is always going to be used and needed.

Aside from wanting to open up her own school, Torres is also the president of Universal Networks in Travel and Education, a club on campus.

“The whole goal for me this semester is to stress the networking part and the travel part,” Torres said.

During club meetings, students introduce themselves and say where they’ve been and where they want to go. Through this, students are able to make connections with other people who may have already traveled to the place that they want to go.

“We can make that networking connection right there,” she said. “I know people in Italy, Spain and England. If you want to backpack through Spain, I can think of 10 couches you can sleep on right now.”

This is where her travel workshops come into play.

“I want students to network with each other in order to have more travel opportunities that are cost-effective,” Torres said.

The travel workshops will be continent- and country-specific. Study abroad alumni and people who have traveled to these places will be the main sources for the workshops.

“We will sit them down in this workshop, and we will pick their brains,” she said.

Participants will get restaurant and transportation recommendations.

“By the end of that workshop, my goal is that not only can the people that want to travel through Europe learn something, but even the people that are presenting,” Torres said. “We can compare and contrast each and get different views of the same city or place because some people might not like that city, but another person might.”

Torres wants people to realize that traveling isn’t scary. This past summer, she traveled through 18 different cities in Spain with just a duffel bag.

“I was completely by myself and I made friends in each city,” she said. “I had one of the best, most spiritually and emotionally fulfilling journeys of my life.”

Her travel experience also gave her the ideas for her school, which helped her with her career.

“I feel fear hinders a lot of people from going abroad,” Torres said. “I want these travel workshops to help address those fears and inspire others to travel.”

Torres is currently looking for funding from Associated Students.

“The travel workshops will be one big, long networking session for one specific continent,” she said. “I want people to network with each other and make friendships.”

Holly Gocka, a junior comparative religion and psychology major, is the vice president of Universal Networks in Travel and Education.

The workshops make being able to travel and learn real and accessible for students, she said.

“Any student that even is intimidated by approaching one foreign language can look at Lizzie with her six, or whatever her goal is, and know that it is absolutely feasible to do one,” Gocka said.

It’s an inspiration to see how available language can be through cultural immersion, she said.

“It’s just an empowering experience that we’re trying to have,” Gocka said.

The first travel workshop will be held mid-April and will focus on Latin America.

Dominique Diaz can be reached at [email protected] or @dominiqueldiaz on Twitter.