Hola and welcome to the 2017 Barcelona program! My name is Lindsey and I am the teaching assistant for the course. Today was our first day of class in Chicago and all I have to say is, wow! As the students filed in, they had smiles on their faces, and you could feel their energy. They were ready for a full day and they made it a great one! Today was filled with reflection on their journeys to get here, qualitative research, learning how to navigate the UIC library’s website and a guest speaker from last year’s program.

We started the morning off by playing a name game. First, the students had to go around in a circle and say their name. After the first introduction, John started the game off. He pointed at a student and said their name, that student then pointed at a peer and said their name, and it continued until no mistakes were made. Of course, everyone forgot someone’s name at least once which made everyone laugh. It was nice to start on a light note.

Next, the students created a timeline of what it took for them to get to this point, the beginning of the study abroad program. The students wrote down and reflected on conversations, accomplishments, hardships, etc. that they’ve had over the last six months to get to this starting line. After 5 minutes of self-reflection, they shared with their table partner. It was really the first time some of the students talked with each other more than just introducing themselves. The room was loud and joyful as they shared their stories. I heard words of encouragement and saw the students turning their bodies to create better body language and eye contact. To not see any awkward silence between the students was refreshing as we all know that first day of class can be a bit nerve-wracking, especially when we do not know anyone. Full course loads, full-time jobs, and tough discussions with parents were all a part of the journey for most students.

The next hour of the class focused on qualitative research, taught by me! We discussed what qualitative research is, the difference between qualitative and quantitative research, and qualitative methods they may utilize in Barcelona. These include journaling, personal narrative, participant/observation, interviews, and visual research methods. A few students walked away from the presentation wanting to start their own projects and research in Barcelona!

After lunch, we met at the library with Rosie Hanneke who taught the students how to navigate the UIC Library site and search for research articles and references. Rosie is

John and the students learning how to navigate the UIC library website at the UIC Richard J. Daley Library

an assistant professor & information services/liaison librarian at UIC. This was a critical presentation as students learned how to organize search terms for mood, movement, and diet, as well as tips for search terms they may be specifically studying. She also showed them how to use a few specific databases that may be of use to the students as well as Institut Cartogràfic i Geològic de Catalunya which is a great website that has a variety of maps of Catalonia.

We ended the day with a guest speaker from last year’s program, Emily Derwin. She gave great insight on various aspects of the program including, managing time and money, the most efficient way she found to complete the projects, finding passion in their work, facing fears, and of course, advice for walking shoes (we’ll put quite a few miles on those). At the end of Emily’s presentation, the students were excited and more at ease. After a full day of content and research, I think they needed to hear about the balance of work and play.

We are off for a week, but check back next Tuesday as we will have completed the first half of our first project – the selfie project!

Until then, seguir brillant en (keep shining on)!