Understanding Europe: Ireland and Spain

Dr. Thomas Kelley Resident Director


December 4, 2018

Brexit and Borders 2018

Let me start by saying that the College of Global Studies at Arcadia University is an incredible organisation.  The plethora of engaging co-curricular activities available to our students is a great example of this excellence.  Many of our Resident Directors leading our overseas centres hold advanced degrees in academic fields pursued by many of our study abroad students and Arcadia is always discovering ways to leverage this in-house knowledge in our study abroad programming.

Take for example our most recent co-curricular innovation from Ireland:  Brexit and Borders.  Myself and our Director in Spain, Dr Jaume Gelabert, drew from our observations and research on Brexit and Catalonian Independence in coming up with an opportunity for our students.  Dr. Gelabert and myself felt that students studying in Europe at this moment should acquire a modest understanding of how the European political and economic landscape is shifting.  We wanted to connect and compare Irish national identities to another contemporary European conflict and the Catalan separatist movement aligned very well.  How lucky is Arcadia to have experts in contemporary Ireland and Spain directing overseas centres!  What started as an ambitious idea became a reality in late November when I travelled with ten students from Irish programmes to collaborate with Arcadia colleagues in Barcelona, Spain.

Before departing Ireland, I discussed the direct consequences of Brexit for Ireland with my students, especially the prickly issue of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.  Once in Barcelona, we started at the Arcadia Center, where the amazing Spanish staff greeted us.  Dr Gelabert gave my students an impassioned overview of the Catalan separatist movement and took dozens of questions.  We ate amazing Catalan food, toured art nouveau Barcelona to see examples of Antonio Gaudi, including the still unfinished Sagreda Familia.  Free time was built into the schedule to allow students to explore at their own pace, but we all regrouped the following morning for a sun drenched bike trek along the Barcelona coast, whizzing past the Baroque core, the 1992 Olympic Village, the Arc de Triomf, and ending at the Port of Barcelona.  We had such craic as we enjoyed views of this incredible European city.

One of my happy students perhaps spoke for all of us in saying, “Thank you so much for this educational and amazing trip.  I will never forget time spent in Barcelona!!”