by Ayanna Jacobs-El
As Berklee students, we have access to an immense amount of opportunities. One of those is to study abroad at Berklee’s first international campus in Valencia, Spain. The Valencia campus is located in the breathtaking City of Arts and Sciences in a 2-story facility that houses state of the art equipment and spaces for music technology and performance. While in Valencia, students have access to unique classes that aren’t offered on the Boston campus and a chance to live in and explore the historic city.
I spent my 4th semester in Valencia in the fall of 2015. I knew immediately, as a freshman, that I wanted to spend a semester abroad, to get a chance to experience living outside the US and immerse myself in a new culture. I also thought it would be a great way to travel throughout Europe, and I specifically wanted to improve my Spanish while there.
It is recommended that students attend the study abroad program in one of their earlier semesters, before major-specific coursework starts, due to the selection of classes that are offered at the Valencia campus. Some of the classes offered include all of the core music courses, a wide array of ensembles and labs, and a broad selection of liberal arts classes. The Music Technology Minor definitely stands out in the curriculum. This minor can be completed in one semester and serves as a great way for students to become more familiar with music production and engineering.
I didn’t take all of the courses required for the minor, but I selected courses that would allow me to learn new skills in the area of music technology. This included Recording Skills for Music Production, Mixing for Musicians, Live Electronic Performance and DJ Skills, and Electronic Dance Music Creation with Ableton Live. In addition to these fantastic courses, I could reserve two hours of studio time per week and utilize walk-in time if there was a studio was open. Access to the studios is available to all students, even if they aren’t enrolled in the Music Technology minor.
The Valencia campus is also much smaller than the main campus, and is made up of about 200 undergraduate study abroad and Master’s students. This allows for small classes sizes and a lot of individualized attention. Students have the ability to get to know each other, which leads to great networking opportunities and lasting connections. There is also an abundance of performance opportunities both on and off-campus at local venues that partner specifically with Berklee.
Living in Valencia is an experience! The city is the third largest in Spain and has a rich history and culture. Some of the locals speak English, but many only speak Spanish, which makes it a great place to practice speaking the language. The food is also delicious, from Tapas to the world famous Valencian Paella. It’s also really easy to explore the city by hopping on a bus, walking, or buying a membership to the inexpensive Valenbisi bike sharing service. There are many sites to see not far from Berklee’s campus like the enchanting Old Town, the beautiful Turia riverbed park, and many of the gorgeous beaches.
It’s surprisingly very inexpensive to travel throughout Europe. Plane, bus, and rail tickets are significantly less expensive than in the States and there is an abundance of affordable hostels and Airbnbs. On many of my weekends, I made it a priority to travel as much as possible. Within Spain, I visited Sevilla, Barcelona, Madrid, Granada, and Ibiza. I also visited London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Amsterdam, and even spent one weekend in Morocco visiting the Asilah Medina and the blue city of Chefchaouen. I maintained a blog of all of my travel and study abroad experiences that you can read here. These travel experiences were definitely one of the highlights of my study abroad experience because they allowed me to expand my worldview and gain inspiration from the fascinating locations I visited!
I would highly recommend that all Berklee students take advantage of this unique study abroad experience. It’s a perfect opportunity to live in a new country, immerse yourself in a different culture, travel, learn Spanish, and take interesting classes focused on music technology. Your study abroad experience in Valencia will be an exciting time filled with new experiences that you will never forget!