As an Art and Business major at Juniata College in rural Pennsylvania, I wanted to find a destination to study abroad that offered me a variety of classes in my field, while also being surrounded by art outside of the classroom. Barcelona, Spain offers me the best of both worlds while I pursue my dream of becoming a Design Illustrator.
After I graduate college, I hope to work for a company where I can alter my hand illustrations using digital elements. Juniata provides me with many classes I can take in order to achieve this goal, however, since it is a smaller school I am limited on the classes I am offered. Universitat de Barcelona (UB) has provided me with classes that I would not have otherwise been able to take, such as a graphic design lab.
As a double major with a minor in Spanish, I knew my semester abroad needed to fulfill required coursework. Fortunately, BCA offers a variety of classes that help me fulfill my Spanish minor requirements. In addition, taking classes through BCA has helped me establish friendships with other international students since they are the only other ones in these classes.
To really challenge my Spanish language skills, and to be able to fulfill some of my art and business requirements, I have decided to take three different UB classes. This includes two that fulfill my art requirements and one that fills a business requirement. Taking four classes all in Spanish can be tricky, especially if taken at the University where often times you’re the only international student in the room. However, the University of Barcelona has a business program that is so large that they offer many of their business courses in English. While I felt guilty at first coming all the way to Spain just to take a class in English, I came to realize that taking one English class saves me a lot of stress and time. Now, I have more energy to spend on bettering my Spanish and working to my goals in other ways. For example, I am able to volunteer at Centro Terral, where I am partnered with an immigrant girl to help her improve her Spanish skills and assist her with her homework. This opportunity has given me the ability to develop my Spanish as well as develop relationships with the local community.
Coming to Barcelona, I had three main goals: First, to improve my Spanish. I can say with great confidence that I have been challenged with my Spanish language through both my homestay, classes, and day-to-day interactions. Second, I hoped to grow as a person by stepping out of my comfort zone and gaining knowledge about the world around me. While my time in Barcelona has only just begun, I feel I have stepped out of my comfort zone and grown more as a person in one month than I would a year in the United States. Third (and lastly), I wanted to grow as an artist. The city of Barcelona has shown me that to create great art you must step outside of the classroom and take inspiration from your beautiful surroundings such as the vibrant colors and unparalleled architecture!
One month in, and I am excited to see what this semester brings and the developments I will make.
Sarah is a Junior at Juniata College studying Art and Business. Originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan, she is thrilled to be studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain this Spring as a BCA Storyteller. Sarah is interested in capturing her experiences through photographs and videos, and hopes to inspire others to begin their own travels.