Students travel to Spain


NORTH ADAMS, MA - A group of students from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) recently returned from a trip to Spain. Part of a travel course taught by MCLA Professor Graziana Ramsden, the travel allowed the students to experience another country without taking an entire semester off to study abroad.

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

Sara Katz '13, of Niskayuna, NY, said she decided to take 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," said 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. It was her first trip abroad.

"I was always fascinated with Spanish history since so many historical time periods settled in Spain," Bolner said. "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, said Ramsden, was the opportunity the students had to see firsthand that Spain is a diverse country with different languages and customs.

"Barcelona is a busy European capital, with a crazed pulse, day and night," said 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 said. "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."

"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," Gismondi said.