As the semester winds down, I’m taking the time to reach out to those who still have the opportunity to study in Valencia next year by sharing a little bit with you about my personal experience spending a semester in Valencia.
I’ll be honest I applied to the Valencia campus on a bit of a whim. I was undeclared and had no idea what I wanted to do at Berklee academically. All my friends were applying to the Study Abroad program, and my Facebook feed was littered with people boasting screenshots of their acceptance emails. I can’t say for certain if seeing a certain number of those images was what finally made me take the plunge into the application, but I did it. Within a few weeks, I was deposited to study in Valencia. Little did I know at the time that the study abroad program would become my favorite part of Berklee.
To think I could fit the entirety of my experience into a blog post would certainly be ambitious, so I’ll keep to some key points that really made my time in Valencia incredible:
1. Classes: I took the Music Technology minor as well as some core classes and liberal arts. Valencia offers some classes that you can’t take at the Boston campus, such as LAHS233, an Art History requirement meter in which you explore different parts of Valencia during your class period each week (I could not recommend this class enough to anyone who goes abroad and has schedule space). Due to the smaller community of Valencian students, class sizes are overall smaller than in Boston and tend to offer a more ‘intimate’ learning environment with a lot more personalized instruction.
2. Facilities: Every student at the Valencia campus gets access to topnotch studios and labs, regardless of major or experience. Students receive 2 hours of reservable studio time per week, and can walk into the studios unreserved any time there is an opening. A lot of students end up recording EPs or multiple singles during their stay at the Valencia campus, and assisting on the sessions of others is a fantastic way to both gain experience in studios and network.
3. Networking: Since Berklee Valencia is such a small community and the Masters students share facilities with the undergraduates, networking is at a maximum at this campus. In fact, the close connections you’ll form in Valencia will spill over into your Boston opportunities. I’ve had far more gigs/sessions in Boston since returning to America due to the people I met in Valencia.
4. Gig Opportunities: There are a ton of opportunities to gig in/around Valencia and beyond! Berklee puts on a number of events that constantly allow a few students/groups to perform, and Valencian venues/bookers are always looking for Berklee students to rock a club on any given night! Any performances, recordings, etc. look fantastic on a scholarship resume (plus you can say you’ve performed internationally, if you couldn’t say that before)!
5. Valencia!: You can’t go to Valencia and not immerse yourself in the history of one of the most important cities in Spain. A short bus/bike ride from campus will put you into the heart of the Old City: the remains of the original Valencia (complete with thousand year old cathedrals, towers, and plazas) that still functions as the heart of the city today. The dynamic from modern city to ancient Roman colony very much exists in as little space as a few blocks apart. As an American, it constantly blew my mind to think that I was walking part buildings that predated the knowledge of the American continent existing by hundreds, if not thousands, of years!
6. Travel: One of my favorite sayings is “It’s cheap to travel around Europe once you’re in Europe… it’s getting there that’s tough.” There are a multitude of options for exploring other countries during a semester in Valencia, whether it be before/after the semester or during weekends. Personally, I went to Rome, Paris, and Norway, and I didn’t travel nearly as much as some of my classmates. Studying abroad is the perfect excuse to get yourself out into parts of the world you might otherwise not see!
7. Sports: If you’re a sports fan, you might know Valencia, like most of Europe, has a very football centered sports culture. Mestalla, the stadium for Valencia’s La Liga team, is about halfway between the student residence and the campus, and tickets can be purchased for as little as 10 euros. Valencia is an internationally known team, despite their struggles the past few seasons, and their fans give the exact sort of experience you’d expect if you’ve ever played FIFA or watched the World Cup. I was fortunate enough to watch Valencia take on FC Barcelona! Aside from football, Valencia also has a vibrant bullfighting culture at various points throughout the year. The bullfighting complex contains one of the oldest and most important bullfighting museums in Spain.
No matter how much you’re told about the Valencia campus and what to expect, nothing compares to experiencing it all in person. In fact, you may not want to return to Boston after spending time abroad! I have a number of friends who have done multiple semesters at Valencia, and I even hope to return in a few semesters myself.
If you want to see another student’s perspective on studying abroad, you can check out one of my Valencian classmates’ blog posts here.
Thank you so much for your time! I truly hope you’ll consider following through with studying abroad.
All the best,
Zach Rosten, Study Abroad Assistant – Valencia Alumni Fall ’15