Alums Set Out to Make it Better
In considering study abroad options, students have several choices. Many opt for UC Irvine’s own Education Abroad Program, but now there is a fresh option.
Former UCI students David Diamond and Travis Carruthers chose to study through an International Opportunities Program in Barcelona during their time as undergraduates.
However, their experience with the program was unsatisfactory.
‘We were pretty happy with Barcelona and Spain, but as far as what we were getting out of the program, we felt that [it] was not all it could be,’ Diamond said. ‘So while the university side of the program was fine, we felt other aspects were lacking.’
Immediately following their study abroad, Diamond and Carruthers began brainstorming to form their own company.
‘So we started the company, The Barcelona Student Experience, in January 2004,’ Diamond said. ‘I got back in September. We were there for two months, and we ended up staying an extra month to set up contacts.’
Their program was successful. Carruthers and Diamond started their first four-week program in Barcelona off with 35 students in the summer of 2004. Sensitive to the issues behind studying abroad, they focused on several issues they felt other programs inadequately addressed.
‘We provided [students] with intensive Spanish-language courses in the University of Barcelona,’ Diamond said. ‘[As for] housing, [we arranged for] shared student apartments, which was one of the big things for myself.’
Apartments were an important selling point for Diamond, who experienced the restrictive nature of the student residencias.
‘[The resident advisers] really restrictive to the point of curfews, you couldn’t use the kitchen pretty much ever