Second Home


Many MCLA students take advantage of the opportunities to study abroad as they participate in travel courses or spend a semester studying in another country.

But Tania Barrera '10, a philosophy major from Lawrence, MA, had a unique experience last year. She was one of just 34 students chosen from across Europe and the United States to study at the European College of Liberal Arts (ECLA) - a highly selective liberal arts college in Berlin, Germany.

As a student at ECLA, Barrera was one of only three Americans. They joined 31 other students from places like Turkey, Moldova, Romania, Macedonia, Estonia, Serbia, Kosovo, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Argentina, Mongolia, Croatia, Ecuador, Germany, Hungary, Australia, Tajikistan, Slovakia, and Russia.

Taught by visiting professors from schools such as Columbia, Warwick, Eberhard Karls, Cambridge, Harvard, and London universities, Barrera took part in an intensive year of study.

"We spent a great deal of time on Plato's Republic, other works by Plato such as Phaedrus, Hesiod, and Homer to name a few," she says. "I took electives in Kierkegaard and Greek history and German. The next term was mainly art and philosophy with the focus being the Renaissance, and the last was about the philosophy of property. I continued German in the second term and took electives in topics such as the Enlightenment and Ulysses."                

Although she says her professors were "incredible" and that they inspired her to do her best work, the opportunity to interact with the other students was the best part of her experience. They all lived together on campus.

 "They are amazing and brilliant and they grow to be your family," she says. "Everyone gets really close and you all value each other for everything that you are. It's unlike any experience you could ever have anywhere else. You all study together, live together, eat together and go out together...  I kind of have extended family all over the world now.  It is the most indescribable feeling to know this amount of love."

After living in Berlin for the past year, Barrera considers it to be her "second home" and says that it is "a great city that offers everything you could possibly want."  The location also was ideal for someone like Barrera, who wanted to be immersed in history.

"It is a country whose people suffered a great deal due to two wars in which it played a tremendous role, as well as only having being unified again for the last 20 years," she says.

Although Barrera previously had traveled throughout Central America, before studying at ECLA she'd never been to Europe. Besides traveling around Germany, she also spent time in Florence, Rome, and Chisinau in Moldova.