The Studying of Study Abroad
Not many people mention the studying part that comes with studying abroad. The educational component doesn’t seem to live up to the amazing experiences that traveling around Europe provides. But for four days a week, three to five hours a day, I find myself in a classroom learning, making the studying part a reality for me. At only two weeks into classes starting, here’s what I’ve discovered about CEA’s academic program so far:
Even after completing my second week of classes, I still find myself impressed every time I walk through CEA’s sliding doors. Situated along the city center, Catalonia Square, the building is surrounded by the bustling everyday life that is Barcelona. Once you step inside the heavily air conditioned lobby of CEA, the streets swarming with shopping tourists seem far, far away. Every classroom in CEA has a sleek and modern look, with perfectly white walls lined by whiteboards, basic black desks or long tables, and glass windows separating rooms. With only three floors, the same faces walk by during the 15-minute passing periods, reminding me of my days in middle school. When the rest of my life is filled with the new and hectic of living in a city halfway across the world, it’s nice to be in the peacefulness of CEA’s halls.
Finally, gone away are the days of taking introduction classes that have nothing to do with my major in packed lecture halls. Here, class sizes are small, ranging from 6-20 students. Each course applies directly to either my major (English) or a general interest of mine. In Journalism 2.0, I’m learning about journalism’s transformation and how to blog. In International Journalism and Global Media, we go over international current events and how they’re covered. In my English course, we analyze travel writing and discuss the search for identity while traveling. I’m even taking a fashion course, just for fun. Each course covers skills that will benefit future careers possibilities, while also teaching us more about Barcelona and being abroad with “field studies” that get us out of the classroom and onto the city’s streets.
Every teacher at CEA seems to have a real concern for their students’ understanding of the material and how it applies to us. Since the classes are so small, the teachers take the time during class to ask us about our own experiences and ways we’ve encountered the lessons they’re teaching. They also offer up stories from their own lives that grab our attention and allow us to get to know them better.
While I would love to spend every second of my day exploring Barcelona, the school does come with some schoolwork. There are daily readings, short writing assignments, and tasks designed to get us out of our comfort zones (like taking the metro out of “touristland”). The teachers are aware of our short time frame in this new city, and really do want us to be able to experience as much as possible, so there is never an overload.
Although I’m still getting the hang of things here in Barcelona, CEA has become a dependable constant in my life that I don’t mind working my schedule around. I’m confident that it will stay that way.
Jennifer S. is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO in Barcelona, Spain. She is currently a sophmore studying Professional Writing at Miami University.