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CEA CAPA Academics Transformed My Study Abroad Experience

July 08, 2024
by CEA CAPA Content Creator
A group of study abroad students taking a selfie in a classroom

How My Academic Experience with CEA CAPA in Barcelona, Spain, Made My Study Abroad Semester Unique    

By Alena Gianoplus

Unique Aspects of CEA CAPA Courses  

Are you a passionate student looking for a semester of exploration? Do you want to take unique courses that engage you and immerse you in your host city? With CEA CAPA, my semester in Barcelona, Spain, did just that. My professors at CEA CAPA used unique learning approaches, such as class excursions and guest speaker presentations, allowing me to apply the concepts I learned in the classroom to the city of Barcelona itself.  

As a Psychology major and Marketing minor, I chose my classes at CEA CAPA from a diverse course list, which kept me on track for graduation. However, the courses I took were all very different from each other: Macroeconomics, Sports Marketing, Health Psychology, and a unique Psychology course with a focus on culture. It was nice to have the option to take general courses required for my degree, such as Macroeconomics, as well as unique electives that I wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to take at my home university. 

Memorable Class Excursions  

In my Sports Marketing class, we spent a lot of time discussing the Barcelona soccer team known as “Barca.” For non-soccer fans, think of Lionel Messi, one of the greatest soccer players of all time who spent a total of 17 seasons on the Barca team. My professor actually had the opportunity to interview Messi during her professional career, which was incredible to hear about. Through her extensive knowledge of the team and her direct experience with Messi, I learned all about the team’s branding, sponsorships, and many other aspects of the team’s marketing strategies.  

To deepen our understanding of the Barca soccer club even further, we took a class excursion to a museum dedicated to the team. There, all the concepts I learned in class were really brought to life.  

A wall of screens in a darkened room featuring images of Barcelona football players

Our visit to the Barca Museum covered so much of the team’s history through interactive visuals, videos, and more. Pictured here is one of the digital walls in the museum, showcasing photographs captured during Barca games. 

Two study abroad students in a darkened room taking a selfie

The museum featured blue and red lighting (the Barca team's colors) and other light visuals and information panels. Pictured here is me and my friend Spencer, who I met in the class. 

As for my other classes, my Health Psychology professor also took us on a class excursion. (For readers not in the psychology world, health psychology is a field of study that looks at how psychological factors influence health and illness.) For this excursion, our professor brought us to an old hospital, the Hospital of Sant Pau, which has since been turned into a historical site. The hospital was like nothing I’d seen before, with so much breathtaking architectural beauty.  

A tall ornate brick building against a bright blue sky

The main entrance to the hospital. Pictured here is one of its most identifiable features—the administrative building from when the hospital was still up and running. It resembles a chapel with a large domed roof. 


A room inside a building with a domed ceiling and large marble columns

One of the medical wings of the hospital. Pictured is a hallway with marble columns and ceilings covered in mosaics. The architectural beauty of the hospital was thought to have helped maintain the spirits of its patients, to create a therapeutic environment and offer a sense of tranquility during the challenges of illness. 

As a Psychology student, this kind of hands-on learning was incredibly fascinating. To learn that certain features of the hospital were intentionally designed to promote the psychological wellness of patients taught me a lot about different Health Psychology practices. 

A Variety of Guest Speakers 

My professors at CEA CAPA sought to make classes interesting by bringing in guest speakers who work in various professional fields. For example, my Macroeconomics professor brought in a journalist who works in the fashion and textiles industry. He connected our course concepts to the fast-fashion industry, which was super insightful. We also had a professional economist come to class to discuss the various strategies he uses to make investment decisions, which I found very helpful during our course chapter on investing.  

For my Psychology course on culture, we had a woman come in to discuss her upbringing in Afghanistan. It was very interesting to learn about the culture of Afghanistan from a direct perspective, as well as the different hardships she faced during that portion of her life.  

The takeaway from all these examples is that when guest speakers came to CEA CAPA, I knew I would be learning about topics that I had never encountered before. It was exciting to know that class would look a little different those days. Overall, it was incredibly insightful to learn from different professionals in various areas of expertise. I wouldn't have had those unique learning experiences anywhere else. 

CEA CAPA Benefited My Overall College Education 

From class discussions and projects to group excursions and guest speakers, CEA CAPA provided me with an incredibly unique semester of educational experience. The student I am today is drastically different because of the courses I took at CEA CAPA. 

A group of study abroad students taking a selfie in a classroom

Me and my project groupmates in the CEA CAPA Barcelona Study Center. In many of my courses, we were encouraged to collaborate with peers. Our group worked on a research project and presented our findings at the end of the semester. 

All said and done, CEA CAPA academics exceeded my expectations. My professors were passionate, knowledgeable, and most importantly, understanding. Going abroad as a US student is an exciting, adventure-filled experience, which is something my professors were aware of. They wanted to listen to the needs of their students and would check in on us every now and then…not just as students, but also as people. I can confidently say that my CEA CAPA academics in Barcelona changed me for the better—as a person, student, and young professional. 

This blog post was written by Alena Gianoplus, a CEA CAPA Alumni Ambassador from the College of Charleston who studied abroad in Barcelona during the Fall 2023 semester.

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