The study abroad experience is one in which students take classes at a different university than they are currently enrolled. This ranges from studying in a different state to a different country all together. There are many different programs in which students can study abroad. Some Universities even have satellite campus’s where university professors teach in a different country. Some of the programs available in Barcelona are CEA, IES, CIEE, exchange programs and a plethora of others. The classes range from history of the country to the language to typical classes such as journalism. These programs allow students to be immerse in a new culture and see a variety of places. Study abroad allows students to learn a new language, acquire international knowledge, manage transcultural communication , reinforced analytical skills, become more flexible and adaptable, and grown independent and learnt to trust his/her own judgement.
While studying abroad, students get to really learn about the culture in both the place they are studying and all the cities they travel. There are many cultural differences between Barcelona and the United States. Although it is the most obvious difference, the language barrier is a huge difference. Without technology such as translator apps, it would be extremely hard to communicate in these places. While there are still big cities such as New York City in the United States, depending on where students are from, this could be a big change. In Barcelona, the metro is a key form of transportation, thus students learn to navigate and understand the system. The timing of everything is also extremely different. In America, dinner is around 7:00 p.m., but here eating dinner at 10:00 p.m. is the norm. Not only do people eat later, but the dinner is not just a meal like in the United States, it is an outing. Meals are an important time to talk to friends, to have a meeting, or even relax and enjoy. It is a big part of the culture to sit down and have a long meal. Whereas getting food to go is not as common because unlike the value people in Barcelona put on meals, in America, food is not always as important. This is also true when splitting the check. In America splitting a bill is extremely common because again sitting and having a meal with a friend is not seen as a special even. In Barcelona, splitting a bill is not as common because going to a meal is seen as extremely important and people carve out a good amount of time to do this, thus people do not split a check, instead they switch off who pays. Continuing with the differences in meals, coming from the United States, students are use to being automatically served free water. This is not the case in Barcelona.
While students spend most of their time in one host city, as they travel, they also are exposed to different cultures. Of course language and currency being the most obvious, there are many difference even within the countries in Europe. While it may not be a lot, the students learn how to say hello in multiple languages ranging from Czech to Italian. Students gain ability to compare and contrast the counties with both each other and their home country. The time to eat meals alone is extremely interesting. As stated before, Barcelona is a very late city in which dinner is around 10 p.m. while in France or Prague, it is closer to the time in the United States. Amsterdam is on the opposite spectrum of Barcelona where the kitchen internally closed at 10 p.m. showing a major difference among these places.
One of the biggest opportunity students have while studying abroad, especially in Europe, is traveling. Whether it is going to Ireland for St. Patricks day or a day trip to Tarragona, there are endless places students can go. This allows students to become worldly and more independent. Learning to take a train or pack in a carry on suit case with specific travel requirements teaches the students to do things on their own. With this great opportunity, students also have the ability to see some of the most famous sites in the world. Being able to climb the duomo, standing at the top of the Eiffel tower, visiting the Ann Frank house or the Cliffs of Moher and the many other amazing sites is a once and life time opportunity. Although all this traveling may come with a little weight gain, being able to taste Italians food in Italy or true Belgium chocolate is a great experience everyone should be so lucky to have. Collecting momentum has become a tradition for some students such as a pen or a post card in order to remember and cherish the amazing places they have visited. From the beautiful architecture of Guadi to the David in Florence, there is so much out there to see in the world and study abroad offers students the chance to begin this journey.
Studying abroad also allows students to be exposed to a variety of professions and interesting people they might not have met elsewhere. People such as Valentine SanJuan or even the people working in CEA student service’s offer unique experiences and advice to students. The Mobile World Conference was held in Barcelona this year and students were lucky enough to attend where they saw people from all over the world showcasing their new products.
Overall, study abroad is a great way for students to learn not only material taught in the classroom but all over the world.