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College of Information and Communications

Students spend a month in Barcelona in unique learning program

Top photo: Students having coffee before starting their day in Barcelona.

University of South Carolina students are studying abroad and taking courses in Barcelona as part of a program offered by the College of Information and Communications.

The program is coordinated by senior instructor Scott Farrand and takes place from June 2 through June 30. While there, students will take two courses: Barcelona Multimedia, taught by Farrand, and International Communications, taught by Kelly Davis.

Undergraduate Academic Advisor Kelsey Ashford, who will be serving as a staff assistant for the trip, described the content for the multimedia course.

“Barcelona Multimedia is a course where students learn how to tell a multimedia story based on a topic of their choosing that relates to Barcelona or the Barcelonan culture,” said Ashford.

Davis, who heads up the public relations sequence of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, says that immersing oneself in another culture is the best way to explore all the nuances and dynamics of that culture.

“I’m looking forward to working with our students to explore the media landscape, gain cultural competency, and learn how to create respectful and appropriate multicultural content both during this trip and as they move into their careers as professional communicators," says Davis. "Having studied abroad myself as a junior in college, I’m so excited to help facilitate this life-changing experience for them.”

Although there are changes to the curriculum and courses involved, this is the second year in a row that this particular study abroad program is taking place. Farrand explained that while some aspects of last year’s trip are staying the same, the biggest change to this year’s program is the size.

“We didn’t want to change it too much because a lot of things worked really well, so the biggest change is that it’s gotten bigger,” says Farrand. “There’s more people coming this time than ever before, so that’s now making us one of the largest faculty-led programs at USC.”

The growth of the program follows the success of last June’s beyond the classroom experience. Advertising major Jazzmyn Jay describes how the trip overseas taught her new ways to use media to connect and communicate with people.

“The way that they communicate information in Europe is completely different. It’s a lot more visually engaging, and I feel like it connects with you a little bit more emotionally,” says Jay. “That’s something I have taken into my work and I try to evoke the same emotions.”

Farrand also explains the benefits of learning to understand different communication methods across cultures, and how this can help students grow and prepare for the future.

“I want the class to realize that the United States is not the norm, and that especially the communications field is very very different,” says Farrand. “When you’re challenged with so many different things it is very stressful because you don’t know what you’re doing at first, but then you learn to become really comfortable and learn to become really confident, and you leave there with a whole different perspective.”

Along with exploring Barcelona, the program also features a four-day excursion to Aix-en-Provence, France. Public relations and media arts double major Jess Coia described this excursion as one of the best parts of her time in Europe. 

“My favorite part of the trip last year was the long weekend we spent in Aix, France. Aix was absolutely beautiful, and the food was amazing,” says Coia. “It was a great opportunity to see a different culture besides the one in Barcelona, so that we could get exposure to a variety of places and people during our time on the trip.”

Along with the courses that students take, they are also separated in groups to work on a multimedia project of their choosing. Students will also take part in different activities during the week that are scheduled ahead of time by the program organizers, such as a bike ride tour through Barcelona when they first arrive.

“Most of the trip is pre-planned. Students were provided an itinerary with daily activities including class schedules,” says Ashford. “There is still time built into the program that allows students to explore or experience downtime while abroad.”

The CIC makes this trip more affordable by not charging program fees, which saves each participating student more than $2,000. The college is committed to making its study abroad trips accessible to as many students as possible because of the life-changing impact that experiencing a new culture provides.

“As a person and a student, this trip really put me out of my comfort zone both socially and culturally and I do think I was able to grow from that,” says Coia. “Being in a place completely unfamiliar to you makes you really have to take your experience and your learning into your hands.”    

Ben Reed

Ben Reed

Ben Reed is a sophomore mass communications major from Berwyn, Pennsylvania. A member of the South Carolina Honors College, Reed will be participating in the 2023 study away trip to Barcelona.  He wrote this article in Bertram Rantin's Honors Journalism 291 class: Writing for Mass Communications.


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