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You Live & You Learn

February 22, 2017
by Julia Dixon
In the months leading up to my departure, I thought a lot about what my apartment might look like, the kinds of things I wanted to do in Barcelona, and the weekend trips I hoped to take. I put very little thought into the essential reason for being in another country for a semester: studying while abroad. Other than the tedious process of making sure all my credits would transfer, I prepared very little for how school might be different in Spain. I can now happily say after my first few weeks that my experiences in class have far exceeded my few expectations.
The CEA Barcelona Center view from the student lounge
 La Sagrada Familia, the famous church in my neighborhood designed by Gaudi. It's still
being built after over 100 years. I have learned a lot about
its architecture and symbolism in my classes.

All of my classes are at the CEA Center located right in the center of the city. I didn't have too hard of a time adjusting to this setting because my classes are taught in English and filled with American students (I was happy to learn, however,  that we do have many different kinds of opportunities to meet local students and I have already been paired with one as a cultural partner for one of my classes). Even though the transition was smooth, school here is definitely different. For example, my teachers come from different places around the world  (Barcelona, Madrid, Germany, and Lebanon). They have unique perspectives and world views and I love when they tell personal stories about their home city. As a Communications major, its been great learning how to communicate with global competence from them. I also have specific classes that have taught me about the media landscapes in other countries. This has been incredibly eye opening because my classes at my home university usually only focus on American media and communication.

 A fruit stand in la Boqueria market. We learn how to best interact with the locals and how to ask for things in Spanish.

Another great part about school abroad is the field studies. In all of my courses, we often we have class outside of the classroom. We meet at a location in Barcelona and get to see different monuments and areas of the city. I find it so helpful to actually see and explore the things we discuss in class. I feel so lucky to live in a city with so much history and endless things to see and learn about. The best part of it all is the relevance of everything I learn and actually getting to use this new knowledge in my life every day.
 We took a field study to the plazas of Gracia to study local culture. It helped me get to know the area I live in better!

My favorite part about school abroad has been the usefulness of everything I learn. While I have taken some interesting classes at my home University, the material is generally not very applicable to my current life or the topics seem far away. Here in Barcelona, the tools I learn to interact with the culture are put into practice constantly. The buildings I learn about in my art history class are right outside the door. The political and social environment can be seen everywhere I look. This has been the most rewarding part of studying abroad for me so far. I'm not just learning about the culture and history of this incredible city, I'm living it.
 Bunkers Del Carmel were built during the Spanish Civil War and also provide one of the best views of the city.

Julia D. is the Spring 2017 MOJO Blogger in Barcelona, Spain. She is currently a Junior studying Communications & Film at University of Michigan.

Julia Dixon is the Spring 2017 CEA MOJO Blogger in Barcelona, Spain in Barcelona, Spain, and is currently studying at University of Michigan.
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