April Marshall (far right), faculty-in-residence for the fall semester, stands with participants in Barcelona in September. Marshall said she enjoyed touring the city with the group. Photo courtesy of April Marshall
As Pepperdine’s International Programs move into their second month, students are familiarizing themselves with the area, learning about the country’s culture and forging new relationships.
For Pepperdine’s new Barcelona program, things look a little different.
Instead of having a Pepperdine-only campus in Barcelona, Pepperdine is partnering with an organization called CAPA, The Global Education Network, and using their facilities as the program’s campus. At other Pepperdine programs, students use Pepperdine owned facilities and Pepperdine professors teach them.
“Some people were like, ‘Aren’t you envious of the fact that other Pepperdine programs are literally living in their academic center and they just walk downstairs and everything’s [they need is] there,” sophomore Rianna Smith said. “And I’m like, ‘No, I enjoy being a part of the city and taking the metro and doing all the things. That’s how you actually get to know where you are.'”
The program is a limited-time study abroad location for the 2022-23 academic year, said April Marshall, faculty-in-residence for the fall semester. She said the program is off to a “wonderful start.”
“The local faculty teaching with CAPA in our program have been impressed with our students’ class participation and positive attitudes,” Marshall said.
Students said CAPA facilities and professors have impressed them.
“Staff-wise, they’re so organized, we get an email when something’s going on,” Smith said. “They’re on top of everything. If we have dinner, they’re emailing us. If something goes on at Lofttown, which is where we’re living, they email us.”
Smith said she appreciates the professors are from different countries, cities and universities because it feels like they are getting a cultural experience even when they are just taking a GE class.
Some classes available for this school year are a variety of Spanish, Religion, Humanities, Physical Education, Astronomy, Psychology and more. These classes go from Monday to Thursday. Students get Fridays off for extra time to travel.
Lofttown is walking distance from campus, Smith said. This accommodation hosts students from all over the world and different universities. It also includes a dining area that serves breakfast and dinner, Smith said.
There are two resident advisors helping in Lofttown. Brooke Carter, sophomore resident advisor for the 2022-23 academic year, said other than being a student, she also needs to manage anything housing and student related. She acts as a “mediator between the faculty and students.”
Being an RA abroad is almost the same as being one on the Malibu campus with a few differences, Carter said.
“Unlike in Malibu, I don’t have any restrictions as to like, weekend travel,” Carter said. “So I’m never like, ‘Oh, on this weekend, [I] have to stay here.’ I can do whatever on the weekend.”
She also said the flip side of that is she never stops being an RA and doesn’t has much time off.
When students are not eating at the dining area, they are free to go wherever they want for meals, Smith said. They receive a monthly disbursement for other meals, which Smith said is $150 a month. In addition, every Tuesday the program has a group meal together at local restaurants.
Student said Barcelona’s affordable pricing surprised them.
“Barcelona prices are not as bad as I thought they were going to be, compared to other abroad programs,” Smith said. “We got really lucky. Coffee here is like $1.”
Carter said she has improved her Spanish-speaking skills living in a place where everyone else is also speaking the language.
“I was super worried about being kind of looked at because I don’t speak that much Spanish,” Carter said. “But anyone I’ve tried to speak Spanish to has been very helpful and like caring and not worried about it. So I’ve been practicing a good amount.”
Most students said they are excited to explore Spain and surrounding countries and see what they have to offer.
“The Barcelona city tour we did as a group our first weekend in Spain together is one of my favorite memories so far,” Marshall said. “Just seeing the sights around Barcelona and catching amazing views of the city was a treat and the perfect way to start the program.”
Smith said she visited Mallorca for a weekend and had unforgettable experiences.
“It was actually the best trip ever,” Smith said. “But we didn’t realize we didn’t know how to use the bus system there. We were on a secluded island. Therefore, we ended up hiking a mile and a half of the mountain.”
Sophomore Mark Campbell said he was planning on going abroad to the Heidelberg program but transferred to the Barcelona program. He said he always dreamed of Pepperdine offering a program in a Spanish-speaking country in Europe because “everyone loves Europe.”
“Some [students] who were only planning to be here for the fall semester have expressed interest in coming back for spring even,” Marshall said.
Participants were unsure of what to expect because Barcelona is a new program, Smith said. Students could not get insight on the city, culture, campus, classes or even just the best restaurants and trips to go on.
“When we got here, everyone was kind of in the same boat and I think that’s what made us come closer together, which I think is really good,” Smith said. “I think we have a tight-knit program.”
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