Students go to Barcelona to see life different

Christiana Cobb, News Editor

Students looking for a change in scenery and a new way to learn about other cultures by completely immersing themselves into the culture can travel abroad to Barcelona this fall with SRJC’s Study Abroad program.

The trip to Barcelona, which goes from Sept. 8 to Dec. 7, will provide academic courses while enriching students’ lives through cultural experiences. The study abroad program is twice a year and essentially runs for 12 weeks. Students who participate will get the same amount of credits offered for regular SRJC courses, but it will be over a shorter period of time.

There is a requirement of 12 units for students to take while in Barcelona. Students will take three classes worth three units in addition to a three-unit class about the life and culture of Barcelona. The life and culture class is a chance for students to learn about their surroundings.

Adjunct faculty of psychology and human services, Suzanne Maggio-Hucek will take a group of   20-40 students and join three other community colleges: College of San Mateo, Diablo Valley College and Consumes River College bringing the total to 60-100 students. Maggio-Hucek will teach psychology courses, Monica Malamud from College of San Mateo will teach Spanish courses, Diane Richey-Ward from Cosumnes River College will teach art courses and Matthew Powell from Diablo Valley College will teach history courses. All courses are UC and CSU transferable. Maggio-Hucek said courses are structured to meet the requirement set forth by the college and the classes are the same ones offered at SRJC, but related to the Barcelona experience.

The locations are chosen by the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS), which specializes in setting up study abroad sites.  AIFS finds housing and buildings for classes.

“We as a college have gone to Florence, Paris, London, Costa Rica, Madrid and now Barcelona. Sometimes if it’s very popular we go back, to London and Florence. It would be great if Barcelona became very popular because it’s a great city,” Maggio-Hucek said.

Barcelona was chosen because it is a very diverse metropolitan city with both modern and historical attractions. The city is also centrally located, so students will get the opportunity to travel all of Spain and other places in Europe such as Germany and France, Maggio-Hucek said.

Students will get the opportunity to experience what it is like to live their life while in another country. Maggio-Hucek said students will be cooking for themselves, living with roommates and when not in class students can enjoy museums, restaurants, soccer games and everything else Barcelona has to offer.

Students interested in the program can expect to pay a fee of $7,365-$7,915 depending on the housing options. This fee doesn’t include airfare, class registration fees, food or souvenirs. “I tell students to count on spending anywhere between $12-$15,000 for the whole semester. The approximate $7,365 includes living and travel around Barcelona, furnished apartment, medical insurance, use of facilities, services of AIFS for the whole time we are there and students will have discounts on the additional cultural programs,” Maggio-Hucek said. Students can enjoy discounts for activities such as soccer games. There is a $450 deposit due with the completed application with the deadline of April 13.

For students worried about the fee, there are scholarships available in the scholarship office such as the Ruth Parle Craig Study Aboard scholarship for $800 and the Ava and Sam Guerrera Study Abroad scholarship worth $2,200. Financial aid is also available for students in need. Students are advised to meet with Margret Mann in the financial aid office if they are interested in financial aid for the trip.

“The registration is happening now, and I am doing information meetings throughout March, and applications are being accepted now. Early registration ends April 13, students have to pay in full by July 30, pre-departure is Aug. 18 and we leave Sept. 8,” Maggio-Hucek said.

The remaining informational meetings are: at 1 p.m. March 9, 6 p.m. March 14, 1:30 p.m., 6 p.m. April 2 in room 4245 in the Doyle Library and 1:30 p.m. March 27 in the Mahoney Library on the Petaluma Campus.

The informational meetings are currently taking place, and they will give students a complete run-down of the trip. The meeting is run by representatives from AISF who walk students through the trip from the moment they step off the plane in Barcelona to the moment they board the plane to come home.

Maggio-Hucek said the students who go come back changed. “I had a student this summer who just came back from Florence, she raved about it. She said she felt like her life had changed. She was confronted with how different life is here when she got back. AIFS has students write a blog about their experiences there, and I read a blog, and [a student] was talking about having a good time but was homesick, and she woke up and said, ‘Why am I being homesick? I should embrace where I am,’ and she just did.”

Students who are looking for a change in their life and want to open their minds should go. “I think it’s important for all of us to learn about other parts of the world, cultures and people. The more we learn about each other, the more cooperative and peaceful we will be in our lives. Students will learn a lot about themselves. In the field of psychology we talk about learning, and I tell students learning changes you forever and this is an opportunity for students to be forever changed and that is why they should want to go,” Maggio-Hucek said.

 

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