Can you believe our new classroom is situated in Plaça de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain? Neither can I! We did not plan for our program to have traditional lecture-style teaching and so far this has held true. Instead, the program is designed for the students to learn while moving through and exploring the city, specifically the Mediterranean mood, movement, and diet. So far the students have mapped their barrio (neighborhood), had orientation, completed a walking tour of the Gothic quarter, had a welcome dinner, had a guest lecture, and participated in improv games at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC). It’s been a busy two days if you couldn’t tell already!

The tour guide showing everyone St. George’s Door.

All of the students arrived in Barcelona on Monday or before. While some of them had longer times to adjust to their new homes, others not so much. Nonetheless, Tuesday morning they were up, mapping their neighborhoods by 9:30. Next, the students met Dr. John and me at CEA for the program orientation. Here they learned about the CEA facilities, laws to be aware of, health and safety, and cultural norms within Barcelona. After the lunch break, we took a tour of the Gothic Quarter where 2000 years of rich history were shared in a short 1 hour and 30 minutes. As one student said, “I am not much of a history person, but this made me keep wanting to learn more!” After a long day, we met at 8 p.m. for dinner. It was nice for everyone to sit down and join in conversation after a busy day.


Today the students had a guest lecturer, Dr. Karen Smyth. She led the students through activities that allowed them to think deeper about their biases, norms, and the way they interact with the people of Barcelona. One of these activities included trying a piece of chocolate (which we all were excited for) with our eyes closed. Little did everyone know that it was 99% cocoa. It’s safe to say, no one had a great look on their face after they tasted it. Karen reminded the students and me of a few things including: (1) we do not see things as they are, we see them as we are (2) while verbal communication is important do not forget your nonverbal language (3) your expectations should be flexible and (4) every culture is different. Those were just a few of the many things she talked about.

Dr. Karen Smyth leading the students through an activity in our CEA classroom.

Tonight, we ended with an activity at the MNCA. Here, the students participated in improvision games led by Dr. John and I. This idea sparked from last year’s program during a voluntary excursion to the museum. Read about it here. The point here was for the students to understand that without knowing facts, no analysis can be done, and therefore no interpretation. At the end of the 90-minute visit, the students became an expert of a surrealist painting in which they had to create a story on the spot and tell it to their peers. They became the “expert” of that art piece. Afterwards, the students reflected and journaled about their experience and shared one word to tie it together. Some of these words included brave, confidence, impromptu, colorful, and imagination.

The students sharing their one minute story of the painting they experts on.

Tomorrow we are off to a winery and olive oil production excursion. Check back in on Friday to see what we’ve been up too!

Seguir brillant en!