Barcelona in Focus | Cultural Exploration

Architecture, Photography, & Spanish Language

Join us in Barcelona for an insider’s experience of Spain on this summer travel program for high school students. Broaden your horizons with in-depth, field-based seminars as you become part of an inspiring and supportive community of staff and students from around the world. Choose one cultural seminar — Spanish Language, Travel Photography, or Art & Architecture — and follow your topic throughout your journey through Catalonia.

July 16, 2017  –  July 30, 2017
At A Glance:
  • Language
    Opportunities to practice or learn the language of your host country
  • Linking
    This program links easily with other Putney programs
  • Seminars
    Choose a topic for field-based, small-group learning
  • The Arts
    Exploration of music, dance, art history, architecture, theatre, and the creative arts
    The Arts
Completing grades 9 – 12
US Gateway City:
New York
Cultural Exploration
15 days
Typical Group:
30 – 40 students, 5 – 8 staff
$ 4,790 + airfare
  • Use your camera to capture the vibrant colors of Mercado de La Boqueria
  • Step on the legendary pitch at F.C. Barcelona’s Camp Nou Stadium
  • Get to know Spanish students during a cultural scavenger hunt
  • Ascend the spires of Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia cathedral


Education: Rice University, M.Arch., Architecture Brown University, B.A., International Relations & Italian Studies

While at Brown, Gaby focused on Italian literature and politics. She spent a year studying abroad in Bologna, immersed in Italian arts and culture. While… read more

While at Brown, Gaby focused on Italian literature and politics. She spent a year studying abroad in Bologna, immersed in Italian arts and culture. While there, she traveled all over Spain, Italy, and Greece, visiting Barcelona for the first time and discovering her admiration for the architecture of Gaudí. Gaby now works as professor of architecture at the University of Puerto Rico’s School of Architecture helping students develop designs in tropical architecture and has a private practice in San Juan. Last summer, Gaby led a group of first-year undergraduate architecture students on a summer study trip to France, touring some of Le Corbusier’s most renowned buildings. Gaby is fluenBarct in English, Spanish, and Italian, and is proficient in French.


Departure • Travel Day • Meet your fellow high school student travelers and a Putney flight escort in New York, and fly together to Barcelona, Spain. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

Barcelona • 14 days • Live among the bright lights and cosmopolitan bustle of Europe’s largest city on the Mediterranean. Barcelona is a gem, known for its unique blend of pragmatism, flair, and civic-mindedness. Choose a seminar and explore Barcelona and the surrounding area through the lens of language, photography, or art. Your dynamic seminar encourages hands-on, collaborative learning, and takes place in the city’s parks, museums, and public spaces. Explore Gaudí’s modernist masterpieces, the cobblestone streets of the Gothic Quarter, and the beach boardwalks of this beautiful city. In the afternoons, visit the Museu de la Xocolata for a lesson in chocolate making, ride bikes through the beautiful Parc de la Ciutadella, or play a pick-up game of soccer on Playa Barceloneta. At night, head out to a classical Spanish guitar concert, take in a film at an open-air cinema, or enjoy student and staff performances at an in-house variety show. To learn more about our Cultural Exploration: City in Focus student travel programs, click here.

PCBAR_BridgetLanigan (333)

Day Trips •  From your base in Barcelona, take day trips to see the medieval ruins and crystal blue waters of Tossa de Mar, the iconic and gorgeous mountain monastery of Montserrat, to explore the quiet cobblestone streets of Girona, to the quaint beachside town of Cadaqués, or to Figueres to see the wild and surreal works of Salvador Dalí.

Return • Travel Day • Fly from Barcelona to New York with your group and a Putney flight escort, then continue on to your final destination. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

This itinerary represents our best projection of the group’s schedule. However, we may implement changes designed to improve the quality of the program.

A Day in the Life: BARCELONA

Due to the traveling nature of this summer program abroad, each day is different. Here is a snapshot of a day in Barcelona.

9 AM Breakfast on campus
10 AM Discuss Cubism on a visit to the Museu Picasso
2 PM Lunch out with friends
3 PM Pick-up soccer game at Playa Barceloneta
5 PM Siesta and downtime
6 PM Community Meeting to discuss the day and upcoming schedule
7 PM Evening photography enrichment seminar on Las Ramblas
9 PM Tapas out on the town with a small group and instructor

We hoped that Abigail would make new friends and share travel experiences with them, practice and improve her Spanish, and generally have the kind of challenges and fun that travel provides. Our expectations were met!

— Ruth and Andrew Suzman, Scarsdale, NY


Choose a seminar and get an in-depth view of this city and the surrounding area. Your seminar is capped at ten students and encourages critical and creative thinking through thoughtful discussion and hands-on learning. During the week, each seminar group meets daily in museums, cultural centers, government buildings, libraries, parks, plazas, or cafés. On a typical day, Spanish Language students may interview young Spaniards about Catalán music, Travel Photography students may photograph vibrant street performers and brilliant colors of Las Ramblas, while the Art & Architecture students use the Sagrada Familia cathedral as an invigorating open-air classroom. Each seminar culminates in a presentation or gallery of your work showcased to the entire Putney community as well as local friends.

Art & Architecture: Medieval to the Surreal
From stark Romanesque churches that were the initial staging ground of the Medieval re-conquest of Spain, to soaring Gothic and later surrealist cathedrals, Barcelona provides a remarkable record of the development of European history and architecture — as well as art. In the early 20th century, a Barcelona café called Els Quatre Gats served as a gathering place for some of Spain’s most influential modern artists: Julio González, Isaac Albéniz, and Pablo Picasso. Two of the century’s greatest experimental artists also called Barcelona and the surrounding province home: surrealist visual artist Salvador Dalí and imaginative architect Antoni Gaudí. In this dynamic course, extensive field visits give you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the iconic sights and hidden corners of this artistic and architectural wonderland, and to develop an appreciation for Barcelona’s unique position in world art and architectural history.

Spanish Language: Out of the Classroom
With Barcelona as your classroom, use real-life scenarios and authentic experiences to improve comprehension and spoken command of the language. Explore Spain’s dynamic contemporary cultural scene and learn about Spanish society, youth culture, film and media, music, dance, and cuisine. Interview Fútbol Club Barcelona fans to learn about the city’s long history of soccer excellence, bike the streets of the Gothic Quarters on a guided tour of hidden plazas and architectural gems, or learn the steps of the regional dance, La Sardana. Set personal language goals together with your instructor so you receive instruction in the areas you most want to improve. You are required to speak Spanish in class, and choose an independent project topic relating to Spanish life and culture, which you present during the last week of the program.

Travel Photography: The Mediterranean Lens
Learn to observe and capture your surroundings in ways that allow you to see the world anew. Discuss the fundamental elements of photography (light, composition, and perspective), methods of approaching strangers, and candid versus “directed” photography. Master classes by guest artists, visits to exhibitions, and structured projects help you create a portfolio for display at the end of the program. Emphasis is placed on field work and shooting techniques, rather than digital image manipulation. Students must provide their own digital camera and should have experience in using it. There is a supplemental fee of $150 for this course.

What to Expect

Your Seminar • Choose a seminar and explore Barcelona and the surrounding area through the lens of Spanish Language, Travel Photography, or Art & Architecture. Capped at ten students, your seminar encourages hands-on, collaborative learning, and takes place in the city’s parks, museums, and public spaces. Cap the program with a celebration of your work.

In Focus Activities • Led by your instructors or local experts, choose dynamic activities on a range of topics that take place around the city. Learn the basics of photography at the iconic Parc Güell, take a trip to the Fundación Miró to learn about modernist painting, or participate in a survival Spanish lesson. Choose to explore the city’s hot spots in cuisine, take a course in chocolate making, or visit F.C. Barcelona’s renowned soccer stadium.

Physical Activity This is a physically active summer program. You can expect to spend most of each day outside and on the move with your seminar group, and to walk, swim, or play pick-up soccer or basketball. You do not need to be at peak fitness to participate, but it is important that you have a desire to be physically active, and that you are excited about trying all activities.

AccommodationsOur residence is the Residencia Ciutadella, located in the popular Raval district of the Gothic Quarters and a short walk from the beach. Accommodations here are university-style, with single and double suite rooms, and ensuite bathrooms. We have access to common space and classrooms for community meetings and seminars. Leaders reside together with the students throughout the program.

Meals We begin each day together with a traditional Spanish breakfast at our residence. For lunches, seminar groups may eat together or we break into small groups of three or more students to eat at a restaurant of their choice. We eat dinners at restaurants in small groups of staff and students to discover Barcelona’s culinary scene.

We were impressed from the get go with Putney.

— Abby and Kenn Elmore, Brookline, MA

Ask Us

Call Kelsey at 802.387.5000 or email

The Barcelona In Focus summer program is directed by Kelsey Burns. If you have questions, are interested in receiving more detailed information, or would like to talk further about the program or any of our high school student travel abroad summer programs, please get in touch!

Kelsey Burns

St. Lawrence University, B.A., Spanish

A Vermont native, Kelsey has led Language Learning programs in Spain; Community Service programs in Ecuador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Ghana; and directed our Middle School program in Costa Rica. She has worked as an associate director at Putney since 2003, and coordinates programs in Spain, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. Kelsey loves to travel, ski, dance, make music, and spend time with her family.