At the risk of sounding cliche’, the weeks truly have flown by and the students would agree.  Each day is jam packed with new content, adventure and personal discoveries.  There is so much to learn, feel and process so the days seemingly blend into one.  Time is irrelevant here as we focus on staying present in each moment.

On Monday, guest lecturer Pep Ingles joined our classroom to teach us what is meant by the term “Mediterranean Diet”.  Pep explained that the Mediterranean Diet is defined as a lifestyle instead of a particular list of foods.  It celebrates eating together and feeding the soul in addition to the body.  This lifestyle positively contributes to the whole person; mentally, physically and emotionally.  Additionally, this way of life focuses on the consumption of foods that are seasonal, local and sustainable. Pep asked the question, “How is the Mediterranean Diet under threat?”  Currently, there is an abundance of cheap, processed food available, families eat out more than ever and cooking at home is not as common as it once was.  We asked ourselves, “How can we carry out the Mediterranean Diet lifestyle back in the United States?”

Pep explaining the Americanized version of the Mediterranean diet food pyramid

On Tuesday, we experienced the beauty of Costa Brava.  Our Skipper, Joan navigated us through the clear, blue waters along the Palamos coast on his 100 year old wooden boat.  What an experience.  Later, we hiked the coast with our guide, Layla.  We trekked as “one team” to help and support each other.  We passed lush greenery, turquoise waters and a preserved fisherman’s village.  At sunset, we ended the day with gelato on the shore amongst the cool sea air.

A preserved fisherman’s village at Costa Brava

Our midweek lecture covered our text, Reversing the Obesogenic Environment.  We brainstormed tangible ideas to instigate change in order to reverse the prevalence of obesity in the United States.  Ideas that we considered were the lack of understanding of nutrition labels and maintaining culinary culture by understanding how food choices can be healthier while maintaining cultural tradition.  This process made us consider real ways that we can take action in our own communities. 

“Small changes can make a difference!” One group’s ideas for change

On Thursday, we completed the Individual Psychogeographical Derive project.  In French, derive means, “to drift”.  Each student walked a different circular route throughout Barcelona while taking photos and noting their experience on sticky notes.  The walked with the mindset of an explorer (one who discovers places and things) and a social scientist (one who studies how people live and operate in certain places).  John reminded us to, “Always have an objective in mind when you take a photo”.  Using the D.I.E model, (Describe, Interpret, Evaluate) the students worked in groups to compare their experiences.  Finally, the students tied their experience today to our obesity content.  The purpose was to understand how communities can reorganize in order to benefit the wellbeing of it’s inhabitants.

Venn diagram to compare our session’s content

One student’s map of their derive route

Students comparing and analyzing their routes


Bringing it all together to see the bigger picture

Friday came too quickly! We spent the morning fine tuning our blog writing skills and reflecting on the first half of the program.  Here are some of the student’s reflections thus far and goals for the second half: 

“I want to explore more Barcelona neighborhoods”, “I want to embrace each moment in the last half since the weeks are going so fast”, “I am inspired by my experience here and want to use it as a guide for my future career goals”, “I want to continue to challenge myself and be out of my comfort zone”, “I want to consider how I will change my lifestyle back home based on my experience in Barcelona”, “I want to refrain from overthinking and just go for it.” 

I am constantly energized by the introspective and inquisitive nature of this group!  Many cheers to a fantastic second half of the program!