Citizens of the world


Just prior to the start of the spring semester, a group of MCLA students visited Spain as part of a travel course, which allowed them to see the world without taking an entire semester off to study abroad.

According to Professor Graziana Ramsden, once students graduate from college, "Life takes over and spending time abroad becomes harder and harder."

Sara Katz '13, of Niskayuna, NY, says she decided to enroll in the course because she thought it unlikely that she would be able to study abroad for an entire semester. "When I heard about the trip to Spain I thought it would be a great opportunity to travel and learn and experience new things and a different culture."

"Being an education and psychology major I didn't have the time to study abroad and still graduate on time," says Danielle Gismondi '10, of Oyster Bay, NY, who also traveled with Ramsden to Spain in spring 2009. "These travel courses have let me travel and learn and I will still be able to graduate on time!"

Olivia Bolner '13, of North Adams, MA, had studied Spanish for a number of years and wanted to visit a country where she could use her language skills. The January trip marked her first trip abroad.

"I was always fascinated with Spanish history since so many historical time periods centered in Spain," Bolner explains. "I also enjoyed being in another country and seeing what was different. Being surrounded by ancient history was also the best part because you cannot get the same
feeling in the U.S."

Another of the many benefits of the trip, says Ramsden, was the opportunity the students had to see firsthand that Spain is a diverse country with different languages and customs, depending on the region. 

"Barcelona is a busy European capital, with a crazed pulse, day and night," says Ramsden.  "Once we moved to Andalusia, the landscape, the layout of the cities, the artworks  all changed radically, and the Moorish influence was palpable throughout the region."

"By going abroad, I was able to experience a new culture and learn about different traditions outside of a classroom by interacting with people and experiencing a different way of life," Katz says. "I loved the architecture in Spain. Everything is old and has so much history behind it. I gained a greater appreciation of how people live outside the United States; it opens your eyes to a broader understanding of another culture."

On the morning they visited the Monastery of Montserrat, near Barcelona, the group happened to arrive at Mass time. 

"Once Mass ended, we were able to listen to the famed boys' choir, which moved the group immensely for its beauty and uniqueness," recalls Ramsden. "We saw an excellent flamenco show in Seville, which some members of the group returned to the evening after. We ate wonderful seafood in Barcelona, and excellent tapas in Seville."

"Barcelona is such an amazing city, with a life force that I haven't encountered anywhere else," says Gismondi. "The architecture is art, and as it is the city of the artist Gaudi, you are never at a loss for spectacular things to look at.  Graziana Ramsden is an excellent mentor and a wealth of knowledge. I have learned more about Spanish culture, history and art, than I could
have anywhere else."