These are the first days in a new city, of a new country, and a new continent. These are the first days using the Spanish language at all times, which in reality isn’t that new to the students, but becomes something quite different from the Spanish that they have learned within the classrooms of their universities. These are the first days in a new university, the University of Barcelona (UB), with new classmates, new professors, new classes, and above all, new ways of learning.
Those that think this is easy are quite wrong. The first days in any study abroad experience is a necessary mix of emotions, worry, nerves, frustration, happiness and incalculable curiosity. All that is new becomes a challenge, a discovery, but it also becomes an accumulation of small surprises (happy at times; strange and uncomfortable in many other occasions) that will determine the rest of the stay in this new destination.
In CIEE, we know quite well that these first days are crucial in the global experience of our students. That is why we are especially careful in the organization of the first week of orientation and in the planning of cultural, social and linguistic activities that we organize in parallel to the sessions about security, health, practical matters, academics, etc.
And between all of the activities, sessions, and experiences that our students live during these first days, the beginning of the direct enrollment courses in the UB represents a point of inflection because the students visualize and feel that one of their expectations that they had in the United States is about to take place. Fear and excitement are inevitably mixed together and it is very common that the students gather in the office door of the Resident Director to show their concern in regards to the difficulty of the first day in a particular class.
This year is no different as all other years, and a group of students came very worried to my door because they did not know if they would be prepared for the “La narrativa española del Siglo XX” course in the Philology Department in the University of Barcelona. It was very interesting to see how they were calmed immediately when I showed them the answer that I had from the professor of this course when I informed her that my students would be in her course once again. And I would also like to share this with all of you, which, in my opinion, perfectly explains the profile of the students of the CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts program in the UB:
You cannot imagine the joy that your email has given me.
For me, it is always a pleasure to have your students. They are very hard workers and they always show great involvement with my material.
Un abrazo fuerte y hasta pronto,
Dra. Blanca Ripoll
Dearest students, the first days have passed. Your adventure has only just begun.