The CIEE Architecture & Design program in Barcelona, Spain surpassed my expectations for a well-rounded, challenging, and enjoyable study abroad experience. The CIEE program advisers guided me with academics, housing, costs, and safety from the beginning of the application process to the final weeks of the program in Barcelona. During my semester I participated in the ELISAVA Study Abroad Design Track that consisted of three courses at the ELISAVA: Barcelona School of Design & Engineering, one course at the CIEE program headquarters, and an internship at a publication company in the heart of Barcelona. Additionally CIEE Barcelona provided all of its program attendees the ability to participate in program events such as scenic hiking, cooking classes and food tasting, intramural soccer, and social language practicing events with native peaking students from Barcelona. Weekend excursions to historical landmarks outside of and near Barcelona were also features of the program abroad. The opportunity to visit other parts of Catalonia and/or Spain with fellow students was definitely a highlight of the program and was included in the overall cost!
Academically, I gained a wealth of knowledge and experience from my courses at ELISAVA and CIEE. The professors at ELISAVA offer a tremendous amount of knowledge and skill that is relevant in today’s field. It was also an advantage to take their courses because many of them continue to work in their fields. They made sure to balance the curriculum with hands-on projects, conceptual and practical work, and field trips to some of Barcelona’s design hubs and art museums. I also received an excess of insight from my professors at CIEE, comparable to the quality of education I would receive back at my home university. The course I took at CIEE was incredibly enriching because half of the time we would go outside of the classroom to learn about Barcelona and the history of its architecture and design. This way I did not feel at all that I missed out on seeing the cultural and historical landmarks and beauty of Barcelona. All of my classes at ELISAVA and CIEE were small in size but my fellow classmates came from diverse backgrounds and concentrations, like myself. In my opinion, it was definitely an advantage to learn from other students from the U.S. and around the world, sharing experiences and ideas, especially when working together on multi-disciplinary design projects.
I would highly recommend anyone that decides to study at CIEE Barcelona the opportunity to intern at a company or start-up in Barcelona. The experience truly prepares you for post-graduation work and challenges you tremendously. The great takeaway with interning abroad is the ability to master and strengthen your already learned skills in language and design and enhance them exponentially. I worked at a publication company as an interning in-house graphic designer alongside international business professionals. My supervisor and coworkers at the company were incredibly helpful with guiding and explaining the company’s work process. Everyone in the office was beyond considerate of my lack of language skill and was profoundly passionate in their work. At the end of my internship, the publication company published my design work and offered a contract for future projects as a freelancer from the U.S. I tell most everyone back at my home university that you don’t have much to lose if you just try. I have noticed in my recent design work and even with school projects that I have improved with communicating, short deadlines, and my creative process all simply because of my real-world experience interning in Barcelona.
To top it all off, I lived in a beautiful area of Barcelona near the old Gothic city and El Born, an ideal destination for design and retail. My commute to the CIEE office, the university, and my internship were very easy and manageable every day from my homestay location. I stayed with a wonderful and hospitable family who made sure my stay was the best possible. I was able to practice my Spanish speaking skills, observe the rich culture and tradition of the family, and learn from them their experiences and recommendations about the city.
I would highly recommend CIEE’s Architecture & Design course in Barcelona, Spain. The program staff, professors, and student mentors made absolute sure that everyone, including myself had a safe trip. The program was not only satisfactory and pleasurable but above expectation and outstanding. There is so much to learn and discover about Spanish and international design, architecture, culture, and language. The beautiful city of Barcelona is the ideal place and CIEE made sure to nurture that experience.