Yes, the rumors are true: you do have to participate in the “study” part of study abroad. Don’t worry; you will have plenty of time to explore your host country and travel to other places. CEA gives you a variety of programs to choose from that allow you to get the best fit for your classes. I enrolled in the Communication, Media Studies, and Tourism Management program. I am a communication major, and most of the courses catered to furthering my progress within my major. This program allowed me to take classes through the CEA center as well as a local university called EUSA. Taking classes in two different places gave me a more well-rounded study abroad experience. It encouraged a happy medium between comforting familiarity and the unknown.
CEA provided me that comforting familiarity. Since CEA is an American program, most academic aspects mirrored those back in the States. The grading scale and class structure were what I was used to, which allowed me to feel more confident in the work I produced and the grades I received. Since I took classes at the CEA center, I was able to develop relationships with people in the program with whom I wouldn’t have become friends otherwise. Having friends from the program provided another level of comfort. However, my favorite aspect of taking classes at the CEA center was the uniqueness of the classes they offered. My two favorite classes were both taught at the CEA center. The Culture of Food and Wine in Spain and Art and Architecture in Seville were an amazing experiential learning opportunity. I was able to learn more about Spain and Seville’s history and characteristics through two interesting concepts. The professors made the content cooler with their personality and teaching styles. They were there for the students, and it showed.
While I value the familiarity of American customs, I was eager to immerse myself in Spanish customs. EUSA allowed me to learn through the Spanish education system and structure. One noticeable difference was the style of learning. My classes in EUSA were very hands-on in comparison to classes at home in the U.S. Typically at school, the main portion (if not all) of the class is lecture-based. However, during my classes at EUSA, lectures were limited and the application of knowledge was the focus. I valued being able to practice what we were learning. For example, in my Advertising Media course, we would discuss what a media plan or briefing was, and then for the remainder of class we would work in groups drafting the documents. It was a refreshing change to the style of learning I am used to. Another neat opportunity EUSA presented was the mixing of international students. In my classes, we had a mix of American students, Spanish students, German students, and one Swedish student. This allowed me not only to be introduced to locals, but also students following a very similar path as me from another country. I was able to learn more about Spanish customs and traditions, as well as German customs and traditions.
My time in Spain was exciting and memorable even when I was in class. CEA provided me with the opportunity to take classes through their center with other American students, as well as at a local university EUSA. Through these two learning environments, I was exposed to new people from all over the world. Additionally, I got to experience two different education systems and structures. My classes provided me experiential learning, which only increased the value of the time I spent in Spain. If you are looking to study abroad, I encourage you to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and take some classes at a local university. Hopefully, you will end up with friends from all over the world like I did.
Marley Lucas is a CEA Alumni Ambassador who studied abroad in Seville, Spain, during the Fall 2019 semester. She is currently a student at the College of Charleston.