Summer study abroad student Tyler Habig kept a blog recording his 6 week experience at Berklee’s campus in Valencia and traveling around Spain and Europe.


25/6/2016  (Spanish date)

     ¡Hola! I just wrapped up my first module or mini semester of classes here in Valencia. A large group of us Berklee students went out last night to enjoy the city as a celebration of being halfway done, but also to say goodbye to our friends who are leaving after the first semester.

     A notable memory we made together was during our first week of classes. On Thursday, June 9th, we all took a boating trip on L’Albufera which is a lake near the outskirts of Valencia. We had a great time listening to music, sharing stories, singing songs, and taking pictures for the several hours we were out on the water. We even got to enjoy the sunset!

     My first big trip outside of Spain occurred last weekend. While all of my Berklee friends went to Barcelona, I flew to Paris, France to spend the weekend with my good friend, Ryan Van Slyke and his dad, Dave. I will briefly summarize the weekend experiences, but you should honestly just go there and see everything yourself because it was truly amazing. I landed in Paris Saturday morning at 9:15 at the Charles du Galle airport and took a train to Gare du Norde. Once I arrived at Gare du Norde, I was supposed to call Ryan and Dave who were already at a nearby hotel to come and get me. However, I exited the train and realized I had no phone service. And there’s no free WIFI anywhere in Europe it seems. So I thought I would just look up the address of the hotel and walk there myself, but once again I was stuck having no WIFI and no cell service. And I don’t speak French. And no one around me spoke English. So, I wandered helplessly for 20 minutes or so before deciding I was just going to start walking outside but keep my bearings about where the Gare du Nord was in case I needed to find my way back.

     To make a long story short, I went into a nearby hotel and was able to figure out how to get on their locked WIFI (all in French) and then figured out where Ryan was. Once I was with Ryan, my French-speaking savior, I was just along for the ride of a lifetime! Our first stop, naturally, was the Eiffel Tower. We got through security and realized that with the two hour wait time to ascend and the imminent rain, we were best off going back the following morning.

     Our next stop was this incredible museum of weapons inside a fortress used during the French Revolution. Then we went to the Champs-Élysées (pronounced shomps-lee-zay), a very famous street in Paris that has ridiculous expensive everything. Some notables were the 5-story Abercrombie & Fitch store, the Nespresso store (with free samples!!!), and the Italian restaurant where I ate a sausage pizza with egg and a Heineken. So good! At one end of the Champs-Élysées was the Arc de Triomphe which was impressive, like everything else in Paris, and at the other end was the Louvre. We did not go inside because it’s massive and I could spend at least 3 days inside in there admiring all of the art.

     Our last stop of the day was Notre Dame. We were able to sit through some of the mass in French and listen to the incredible organ player. It was inspiring and magical.  In fact, all of Paris was inspiring and magical. My favorite video game company, Quantic Dream, is based in Paris and I see where they get their inspiration to create incredible works of art as video games.

     Sunday morning, we did get to climb the Eiffel Tower. And we actually climbed, or rather, took the stairs. It certainly felt like a climb. Up and up and up and up. We made it to the top platform but not to the absolute top. That required an extra lift ride. Still, we could see the entire city and get plenty of memorable pictures. We stayed up in the Eiffel Tower for about 2 hours before climbing down again, and then I was on my way back to Valencia.

     I totally fell in love with Paris while I was there. It was the kind of city where even when it rained and the water was murky and brown in the Seine River, it was still crazy beautiful. I will go back and spend more time when I get the chance.

     To answer the Australian couple from Canberra on the train from CDG to Gare du Nord if I was a *in a heavy Australian accent* “local or traveler”, I can say that now I am indeed a traveler. But I appreciate the thought of them thinking I looked like a local in Paris whilst wearing my Avon Tennis jacket and IU hat.


 3/7/2016 (Spanish date)

     ¡Hello again! I’ve just completed my first week of session 2 classes here at the Berklee College of Music in Valencia, Spain (or Balénthia, as the locals say). I’ve met some new friends joining us for this second session from even more places around the world like San Francisco, Sweden, and Iran. It’s amazing to see all the different perspectives because we initially have a lot of curiosity and respect for each other. Contrary to all of our progressive and open-minded intentions, we love asking each other to say difficult words and phrases in our language so we can laugh at each other. Just the other day I learned to say “Hey sugar” in Swedish. It’s something like “shienna pruden”.

     Last session, I did two big projects. I scored a short car chase scene from The Italian Job which I’m not allowed to post, but I also did a MIDI mockup of a part of Beethoven 7. None of the instruments are real, but we learned to make them sound convincing to the ear. I used Kontakt and Vienna Ensemble Pro for my mockup. Also, we learned how to use Reason and Stylus RMX.  Berklee has many fantastic MIDI libraries to choose from!

     Session 2 is off to a great start, and I’m getting to compose a lot more music. We compose for 1 or 2 assignments each night. That being said, the workload is much heavier and none of us in the film scoring group are sleeping much, but at least we’re all in the same boat so we continue to have a good time. This past week, I wrote a sketch of the main title sequence for Alan Silverstri’s Night at the Museum, I wrote a sound alike of Alexandre Desplat’s “Alan” theme from The Imitation Game, and I wrote music to accompany the video game LIMBO using a strict branching method (where events in the game trigger new music as soon as the previous music finishes). This weekend, I’m scoring the jungle chase scene with Dash from The Incredibles. So much work! Because of this assignment, I’m keeping my blog short and sweet. My blog post is already a day late.

     Check in next week to read about more of my projects and my trip to the Oceanogràfic. Only two weeks left here in Spain!

Continue reading blog n.5.