Follow along the past ten weeks of memories created throughout our time studying abroad in Barcelona at ALBA.

As the final days of our unforgettable study abroad experience at ALBA approach, it is time to reflect on the moments that we have created from our experience here. My name is Emma Brenizer, I am from Rancho Palos Verdes, and I have been studying abroad in Barcelona for the Fall Term 2023. During my ten weeks in Barcelona, I’ve meticulously crafted a scrapbook that encapsulates the excursions and cherished memories shared throughout the term. Join me as we reminisce about our ALBA adventure, revisiting the highlights and treasured moments that have defined this incredible chapter of our lives.

I have taken on the role of the social media and marketing internship position at ALBA which has been such an incredible chance to showcase my abroad experience. I have highlighted the friendships I have formed, the delicious restaurants I have discovered, and all the adventures exploring my Sagrada Familia neighborhood and the city of Barcelona. I spent this quarter crafting together a scrapbook of the memories we created over our ten weeks in Barcelona! Through carefully curated pictures capturing the inception of our journey during orientation, the stroll through El Raval, to the finality of our cooking classes and excursions, this scrapbook became a visual narrative of our time together. This scrapbook became an object to pass on our legacy to future ALBA students, a glimpse into an incredible journey that awaits them. I wanted them to flip through the pages anticipating their very own journey, and to recognize these moments that would form cherished memories that would carry long after their time in Barcelona. This scrapbook serves as a reflection of friendship, experiences lived, and the impact of our time together in this incredible city. I embarked on this project to weave together the unforgettable moments of our lives, not only for us to cherish, but also to share with future ALBA students, allowing them to take a glimpse into the incredible experiences that await them.

Scrapbook open on table

Currently, I am a junior at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, majoring in Business Administration with a focus in Marketing Management. Following in the footsteps of my sister, Lauren Brenizer, who attended ALBA two years prior, played a significant role in my choice to pursue studies in Barcelona as well. One of my cherished experiences in Barcelona has been immersing myself in the city, strolling along the beaches, and going on day trips to the charming nearby coastal towns. These experiences have sparked my desire to document this study abroad chapter with a purpose in mind. I remember flipping through my sister’s photos from her time abroad. As I found myself in Barcelona, experiencing similar excursions and visiting the very places she explored, like Costa Brava, I longed for a way to relive her adventures. This fueled my inspiration behind creating a scrapbook for others to glimpse into their friends’ journeys and share those experiences, bridging the gap between our separate adventures and weaving them into a collective narrative. While navigating the streets of Barcelona, I found myself compelled to create a tangible tribute—a scrapbook that encapsulates not only my academic evolution but also the profound personal connections and cultural experiences that have defined my stay here.

Writing stuff on the scrapbook

I chose to create a scrapbook for my study abroad recollections, a personal collection that future students can explore. It is my way of encapsulating these memories and sharing the essence of my journey with those who follow in my footsteps. This scrapbook serves as a reflective journey allowing me to revisit memories that shaped me, fostered gratitude for experiences, friendships and lessons learned from my time abroad. I crafted this scrapbook with the hope that future students could immerse themselves into our term’s experiences and use the remaining pages to create their own personal narratives. I hope that by documenting my experiences in a scrapbook, fellow students can anticipate the adventures awaiting them and find guidance in navigating their own personal journey throughout their time in Barcelona. This collection serves as a reflection on our shared experiences during the term, offering insights and inspiration for their personal exploration. My study abroad scrapbook captures a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I’m thrilled to share my adventures, experiences, and explorations with future students who embark on similar journeys.

Emma contemplating her scrapbook

During the creation of the scrapbook, I encountered challenges sourcing the right materials, particularly in a foreign environment. A helpful recommendation from a professor at ALBA led me to an art store where I discovered an extensive array of art supplies. Adapting to the different offerings in these non-traditional stores posed a challenge, as the supplies varied significantly from what I was accustomed to in American art stores. Choosing the appropriate materials for the scrapbook became an exercise in experimentation. The distinct nature of the supplies here prompted us to repurpose a sketchbook, originally intended for sketches, to serve as the foundation for the scrapbook. This adaptation required careful consideration to ensure the materials would best complement the vision I had for documenting my Barcelona experience. Moreover, at a local print shop where Catalan and Spanish were the spoken languages, we encountered difficulties communicating while operating the printer. The attendant seemed impatient, repeating instructions multiple times. Sensing the frustration, I complied immediately to alleviate any further tension or misunderstanding and sometimes communicating through laughs and smiles is the only way through.

Emma at ALBA showing us her scrapbook

I found immense joy in reliving memories from the term with friends. Sorting through the physical photos allowed us to dive deep into each moment captured. My mom made scrapbooks for significant milestones in our lives, which I have enjoyed revisiting. I can revisit cherished childhood memories that I will carry with me always. Creating a scrapbook for my time abroad felt like a moment of completion. Reflecting on those memories from various excursions often brought to light the transformation within our friendships. Some moments captured in photos featured people who initially seemed like strangers but eventually became pivotal parts of our close-knit circle as the term progressed. I feel so lucky to have met so many people through this program and ALBA has allowed us to attend events to form friendships throughout the program. As we reminisced, we were struck by the passage of time since those pictures were taken, highlighting the rapid pace of our experiences. Time flies when you are busy exploring new places and sites, but making a scrapbook helped me slow down and make sense of all the amazing opportunities that have happened so far. This realization reinforced the importance of cherishing each day, living it to the fullest, and seizing every opportunity during my time in Europe.

Emma and friends commenting on scrapbook content

During my time studying abroad, I often felt the weight of needing to remember every aspect of my experience vividly. Since studying abroad was something I looked forward to for such a long time, I wanted to make sure I could recall and remember exactly what I was doing and seeing throughout my experience. Looking back on all the photos, I feel connected to these memories and the life I was living and I am excited for the future ALBA students to get to experience. Creating a scrapbook has profoundly shaped my study abroad journey, transcending the role of a mere collection of memories. Assembling this scrapbook has allowed me to reflect deeply on my experiences, from the first walking tour through the neighborhood of El Raval, leading to a hotel rooftop with newfound friends to the meticulous planning of weekend trips to Dublin and Vienna alongside these friends. It is crazy to look back on photos of friends I hardly knew and realize how close we have become in such a short time. Back then, I never thought some of my strongest friendships would emerge from my time at ALBA and our travels across Europe together. From befriending them in our first Business class, to making plans to try a ramen place, to showing up to the walking tour, biking tour, and wine tour to planning weekend excursions together. Reflecting on these moments has highlighted the rapid depth and growth of my friendships over a remarkably brief period. The evolution of connections forged during my abroad experience that I deeply cherish and am profoundly grateful to have formed. I highly suggest making a scrapbook or even just a photo album to capture the moments from your experience. It’s a way to cherish these unique times that are unlike anything you would experience back home. These memories are worth preserving, something you can look back on and share with others to bring those moments alive again.

ALBA students reading Scrapbook

I would like to encourage future terms to contribute to the scrapbook using the same layout and format that I’ve established, thereby ensuring the ongoing documentation of ALBA memories. This continuity will connect each term and allow the collective experiences of ALBA to flourish and develop over time. I strongly recommend not skipping any pages, and I encourage you to write captions that provide context for the photos. Additionally, please make it a practice to capture moments each week, which can be seamlessly integrated into the scrapbook. Furthermore, I propose that this scrapbook remains housed on floor 4 within the ALBA facility, providing all students with an opportunity to peruse its contents and add their own personal photos for the respective weeks. This will further enrich the collective tapestry of ALBA experiences. Together, let’s write the ongoing story of ALBA!