Tag Archives: Barcelona

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Q&A: NADINE FARRAG

Since 1990, Forum-Nexus has provided one-of-a-kind study abroad programs for 27 years to over 3,300 students and counting. Our team of faculty and staff is made up of internationally diverse, successful individuals who are all equally passionate about travel and education. For the next few months, we’ll be sharing Q&As with those who lead the FN team year-round.

We caught up with longtime team member (6 years and counting!) Nadine Farrag to learn how traveling with FN has influenced her life thus far, what she does in her role with Forum-Nexus, and to hear what adventures she’s tackling next. Get to know our favorite Egyptian… #ThisisForumNexus!

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Q: Tell us about your background. In what cities and countries have you lived? Where did you study?

NF:  I was born in Egypt but lived in Saudi Arabia for the first two years of my life. Then I lived in Kuwait for six years until I returned to Egypt and have lived there ever since. My primary education was in Kuwait but l the rest of my school years and university occurred in Egypt. I studied Marketing and Journalism at the American University in Cairo and graduated in 2012.

Q: How many times have you participated in FN programs?

NF: My first time with Forum-Nexus was in the summer of 2011 and I’ve been with the program ever since :)

This summer will be my 7th!

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Q: What are your responsibilities as a FN staff member?

NF: I’m an Admissions Counselor  and I manage the team that supports students and prospective students from countries outside of the United States.  I also support the Marketing team through my involvement with our  marketing materials, and on-ground events and activities.

During the program, I help with logistics and the coordination of students’ activities and academics.

Q: What languages do you speak?

NF: I speak English and Arabic, and I know a little bit of French. I plan on learning Spanish next.

Q: What do you find special about Forum-Nexus? About FN students?

NF: The experience one gets with Forum-Nexus is truly life-changing. The international exposure, the immense travel experience, and making lifelong international friends is not a combination that you come across everyday.

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I still remember my first year with Forum-Nexus. I left with a changed perspective, not just about the world, but about myself as well. With FN, you broaden your horizons, you discover things that you never thought existed; it all helps shape you into a better citizen of the world.

Q: How does participating in FN help students with their future careers?

NF: Employers now look for candidates who can work under pressure, communicate with different people, and cope with anything. Students get that with Forum-Nexus because you get to interact with students from all over the world, learn to adapt to different cultures quickly, and gain exposure to a lot of different situations that you wouldn’t normally face in your home country.

FN also gives you an edge if you’re looking to work abroad; you’ve already been to at least 9 cities in a month!

Q: In your own words, what is special about Europe?  

NF: Every city is different than the other; you experience different cultures and cuisines. There’s a lot of heritage and beautiful scenery. Europe is indeed magical for hosting something for every taste!

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Q: Why is knowledge of Europe important?

NF: It’s a central part in the world and everything that happens there will affect you somehow. Take Brexit for example, or the financial crisis in Greece.

Q: What are your favorite cities in the FN itinerary and why?

NF: That’s a very tough question because they’re all amazing in their own way. If I had to choose, I would pick Barcelona. I believe it combines everything that all cities in Europe offer. I love the language, the people, the energy. It has the beach, nightlife, scenery, heritage, and great cuisine. I think it’s so special to me because its atmosphere reminds me a bit of my home country, Egypt, so it feels like a second home. I’ve been to Barcelona around 8 times so far and I still find new places to visit every year!

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Q: What is your favorite activity you did as a FN student?

NF: Getting lost wandering around new streets probably – haha! Leaving the touristy places behind and exploring the real city like a local is always more fun.

Q: What is your advice to future FN students on how to benefit the most from their study abroad experience?

NF: Make sure to explore as much of the city as you can. Every city we’re offering is a home to wonderful places and activities so plan in advance so you have enough time to experience them all. And definitely mingle with the locals. Everyone is so friendly.

Q: Where do you want to travel to next?

NF:  I’m very interested in Asia. I went to Nepal last year and it was an amazing experience – very different from any traveling I’ve done before and I have traveled A LOT. Now with the plans of Forum-Nexus in Asia in 2018, I can’t wait already!

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 For more information on our upcoming programs, visit www.forum-nexus.com. Be sure to also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and check out our blog and YouTube channel.

 

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The “Must-See” of Barcelona

      My favorite professional visit during my summer abroad with Forum-Nexus was to Park Güell, where a picture really is worth a thousand words. First, a little background about me: I am a Business and Enterprise Management major and triple minor in Biology, Psychology, and Health Policy Administration. In other words, I hadn’t studied or shown much interest in art history before my summer abroad. But, on a whim, I decided to take European Art and Architecture, and it was an amazing decision. I found that taking a class relevant to everything I saw while in Europe was eye ­opening; for instance, the details of the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona, pieces of art and sculpture I saw in the Vatican, and looking at the Renaissance architectural details in Florence. I noticed details that I wouldn’t have known to look for without my Euro art history class. Park Güell was no exception.

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Courtesy of Mary Anne S.

      Going to museums and monuments is much more meaningful to me now as I learn about these movements and artists in class before I go see them, especially seeing Park Güell with my class. We learned about Antoni Gaudí and some of his best known works in class, then got to go to the famous park with my knowledgable art professor and a guided tour. My favorite part was probably our free time to wander around and look at the nature -inspired mosaics up close. Seeing how Gaudi was so influential and creative as an architect with my class was such a cool experience! We got to see his labyrinth of columns and tiles, cavernous curved tunnel, houses for people to actually live in, and benches overlooking the city all in one day. We got to walk inside one of the old apartment buildings, and even this was built with no straight lines; ­ curved walls and bright blue colors filled the entire structure. This park was made even better with the greenery adding nature to this gorgeous overlook of the ocean in the background.

     It was especially interesting to notice the mosaic tiling seen everywhere in the park, and was my favorite detail of the massive structure. Seeing the nature -influenced details everywhere was also fun to look for as we walked through the park, each section of wall decorated in an entirely new way. It made me excited to see more of Gaudi’s work in Barcelona.

      After the tour, we took a bus over to the ocean and up to the top of a scenic overlook that I didn’t even know existed. I have an interest in photography, so this entire day was really beneficial for me to personally view these famous and well-photographed tourist destinations from new angles.

     While in Barcelona, Park Güell is a must-­see. It was number one on my list of places to go, and I was thrilled that I got to go with my class as a professional visit. I recommend anyone to take European Art and Architecture. You’ll learn about parks, other monuments, and architectural styles seen everywhere in Europe! It really added to my international experience in a way that I hadn’t expected. This visit in particular was a fun use of my time because I was able to do something that I have always wanted to do. It was so interesting to learn about a new city in a different way than I am used to!

By: Mary Anne S., FN 2016 Alumna

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Courtesy of Mary Anne S.

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Cava in Catalonia

My favorite professional visit during Forum Europe 2016 was our visit to Codorníu in Barcelona, Spain. It was the first professional visit of the program, and I was very eager to experience what a “Forum-Nexus professional visit” entailed. The buses dropped us off by the vineyards, where I was able to capture some great photos. We went inside and split into groups to tour the Codorníu estate. We learned a lot of history behind the family business. Codorníu was founded in 1551. It is the oldest family-based company in Spain, and one of the oldest in the world. Today, Codorníu produces around 60 million bottles of wine and has over 200,000 people visit annually. Hearing those statistics made me feel so grateful to be one of the 200,000 people this year given the chance to experience and learn about such a famous and successful company.

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Our visit began with a 3D video highlighting the history of Codorníu. The video included information about the architecture of the winery, and how the wine is produced and manufactured. After the video, we all boarded a small, electric tram. After learning a few more facts about the winery, we were able to see it for ourselves on the tram ride. The winery is twenty miles of tunnels and three stories deep. It holds over 100 million bottles of wine. The ride seemed a little spooky at first since we were deep inside of a cellar on a tram track, but the cellar caves were beautiful and hold so much history throughout them. The ride lasted for about 5 minutes. It was very neat to be able to see the underground storages of the Codorníu winery.

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After the train ride, our groups met together for a cava tasting. We were given the opportunity to taste both the white cava and the rosé cava. There I learned that Codorníu cava is sparkling rather than flat. I loved the rosé so much that I decided to purchase a bottle of Rosé Anna as a souvenir. The gift shop was cool and included the wines we tasted in the cava, along with many more flavors.

My major is Public Relations, so I took the Cross-Cultural Communications course with Forum-Nexus. Although the visit to Codorníu seemed more business oriented, my concentration in communications allowed me to take a valuable information from the visit as well. I was able to see and learn how Codorníu communicates through international markets to sell their products worldwide. In addition to learning about Codorníu’s international sales, I also observed the way in which the cava winery marketed their products by offering the complimentary tasting at the end of the tour. Each person was given one glass of white cava and one glass of pink cava, then taken directly to a gift shop exit, which was full of Codorníu cavas and other goods. I am not ashamed to admit that although it was an obvious ploy to have their products purchased, the wine tasting strategy worked on a large majority of our tour group, myself included! Overall, the professional visit to Codorníu was very educational since prior to the visit, I was not familiar with this leading international company.

 By: Rachel R., FN 2016 Alumna

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Courtesy of Rachel Rowan

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Destination 1: This is Barcelona!

Imagine a place where art, beaches, mountains, music, culture, dance, and history beautifully collide. Imagine a city so lively, vibrant, and brimming with zest, you fall in love upon arrival. Imagine no more because this paradise exists, and is waiting to win you over; this is Barcelona, Spain!

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Barcelona is one of those rare, mystical cities where you feel like there is never enough time to spend there; the discoveries are endless! If you ever get the chance to visit, GO without hesitation. To say the least, it’s an iconic destination where you can achieve an authentic European adventure.

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So you may be wondering what to expect on trip to the Catalunya region. Take a little insider advice from a seasoned travel and former Forum-Nexus student who put together, “A Beginner’s Guide to Barcelona.”

Or check out an overview of traveling through Barcelona the Forum-Nexus way.

Barcelona is a fabulous coastal city with both beaches and mountains, outdoor markets, restaurants, and museums. And it’s the first destination on the Forum Europe Summer 2017 itinerary While in Barcelona, students will be able to admire the striking Art Nouveau architecture of Antoni Gaudi in the Sagrada Familia Cathedral and several other sites throughout the city such as Parc Güell, La Pedrera, and Casa Batlló. Barcelona is a powerful center of industry and commerce with the largest port on the Mediterranean. Students will visit Spanish and multinational companies such as the Port of Barcelona, Codorniu, Estrella Damm Brewery and take classes at the campus of the AACSB-accredited IQS School of Management. On the weekend, students can participate in an optional Forum-Nexus Day Trip to the charming medieval city of Girona (yes, Game of Thrones!) and the seaside village of Cadaques (considered the Santorini of Spain and made famous by Salvador Dali) organized by our travel-savvy staff.

 

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Follow along on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to learn more about this one-of-a-kind city and our summer 2017 program.

Catalunya awaits!

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An afternoon at Parc Güell

Barcelona is an enriching city filled with art and culture. Every street corner is teeming with life and the people emanate immense amounts of energy, from the very young to the very old. Perhaps one of the most striking features of the city, however, is the architecture. Far and few in between will you come across architectural gems imbedded within the busy streets and at times trash-filled corners, but if you look closely enough, you will see them. One of the most iconic creators of these works of art is Gaudí. Upon exposure to the city, my eyes were opened to the enrapturing world of architecture. Seeing these structures broadened my awareness, and beckoned me to stop and appreciate the designs.

Antoni Gaudí, put simply, is a genius. His projections are a creative synthesis of traditional Catalan expression, as well as modern technical and scientific influence. He uniquely intertwines geometric patterns with elements of nature – an influence that works to generate a sense of otherworldliness. In order to surrender himself to the will of nature, his designs lacked austere edges, straight lines, and sharp corners. Instead he incorporated whimsical patterns, sensual curves, and bright colors to mimic the wild beauty that we share this earth with.

In many of his projects we see subliminal figures accentuating the relationship between humans and flora and fauna, along with celestial bodies. Gaudí’s work suggests that he creates with organized chaos – fluctuating notions of precise planning and sporadic, almost random accents. Just as the environment transforms and adapts over the course of time, so did Gaudí and his ideas.

 Although all of his work inspires me, I believe Parc Güell is an exceptional example of Gaudí’s artistic expression and representation of Cataluña. The benches represent water and the columns and cave-like tunnels are structured to mimic dripping mud, to embody the Mountain Montserrat. The main entrance where you will find the dragon represents Saint George, a holiday in which the Catalans celebrate the slaying of the dragon whom consumed their livestock and princesses and in turn, its blood turned to roses. Every element in the park is symbolic of Catalan people and their culture and beliefs.

By: 2015 Forum-Nexus Alumna,  Megan Brief Megan Brief 1

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Experiencing Estrella Damm Brewery

My favorite professional visit throughout the entire trip was most definitely our visit to the Damm Brewery in Barcelona, Spain. During this visit, we were introduced to the history, marketing and distribution strategies, and company mission statement. The brewery, which was founded in 1876, is the oldest brewery in Spain. They still use the same recipe to make their beer: a mix of rice, hops, and barley malt. To uphold the high-quality flavor of their beer, they actually have three years’ worth of yeast in reserve, which is stored under maximum security. Their most popular beer, a light pilsner, is the Estrella Damm.

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The word “estrella,” translates to “star” in English. I had never heard of this beer before our visit to Spain, although coincidentally I ordered one at lunch the day before and enjoyed it. One of the most interesting parts of the visit for me was watching their TV ads throughout the years. The company’s image and marketing campaigns evolved drastically from their earlier commercials. For example, one of their older TV spots featured psychedelic music and colors, with strange alien-like creatures dancing around the beer labels. To us, this ad is obviously very strange, but maybe in the 70’s in Spain it resonated with the consumer and helped sales. Nowadays, all beer ads, no matter the country, are very similar. They often feature 20-somethings in the summertime, laughing and partying together. Their drink of choice is, of course, the brand being sold. The commercials, even internationally, are so similar that you could interchange any brand name.

As a marketing minor, all of this behind-the-scenes branding and public relations information was especially relevant and interesting to me. Even walking around, I could see myself working for a company like the Damm Brewery, helping with marketing and promotion. Another reason I really enjoyed this visit was because we also got to tour the facilities of the brewery and see first-hand how the beer was made. Although I could have done without the strong wheat smell, the humidity of the factory, and the many flights of stairs, it was definitely worth it to see how an international brand of my college drink of choice is made. Our tour included learning how beer is brewed, from the steeping of the grains to fermenting it with yeast (which lasts for three whole weeks), to the packaging and eventual distribution. Unlike a lot of beer companies, the Damm Brewery has their own malthouse.

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Predictably, my favorite part of the visit was when we got to taste the beer. I tasted the Damm Lemon 6-4, which is six parts beer and four parts lemonade. It was obviously delicious. Although every professional visit that we had taught me more about business and culture than any class could teach me, the hands-on professional visits, like our visit to the Damm Brewery, were definitely the most interesting and relevant.

By: Hannah Batsche, 2015 Forum-Nexus alumnae

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Cheers to Codorniu!

Codorniu set the bar very high for Forum-Nexus professional visits during the summer program. Codorniu was the very first professional visit I went to in Barcelona, Spain. From the moment we arrived to the winery, I was fascinated with the look of the property. You could tell that the grounds had a history and that it was not just built to look antique. Earlier this summer, I went on a wine tasting tour in the Basque countries in northern Spain, so it was particularly interesting for me to compare Codorniu to the the smaller companies I visited.

When we entered we waited in a gorgeous room until we all accumulated in a small movie theater room where we watched a 3D video of a tour of some of the vineyards. At first it seemed cheesy. But reflecting upon it more, I thought it was a refreshing difference from other professional visits and it was cool to see the grounds since we did not visit all of them later on in the tour. From there we took two trains, similar to those in Disneyland, and received a small tour of the grounds and learned some of the significances of the buildings. I continued to see the age of the buildings and the history of the company. We then went into another interesting room where we lined up and smelt the different types of grapes used to produce different wines. I know that scent has a lot to do with enjoying a glass of wine, so it was cool to directly smell the differences between the grapes. There were clearly ones that I liked more than others.

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Then we hopped back on the train and were taken to another building. This building contained a tunnel that took you down 60 feet into the wine cellar. It was amazing to see that these tunnels were dug out so many years ago but were still used today. The best part about making this descent was that the air naturally cooled as we went deeper.. It felt like the tunnels went on for miles. Our tour guide explained the process it takes to make a bottle of wine, which appeared to be the same as the process I learned about on my Basque country tour. We hopped on another train where were zoomed down the tunnel to a wine tasting area. The company was very generous in their tasting samples. We got to try two different types of cava. It was a fantastic moment since that was the first thing I remember doing as an entire Forum-Nexus group.

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There were two things I learned that I found most interesting about the Codorniu visit. One, that the word “champagne” is owned by the French and therefore the Spaniards have to call their version of the drink “cava.” Cava is what we tested in the bottom of the cellars. It tasted just like the French champagne but it was kind of fun to call the drink cava. The second thing I learned was that this relatively large company is family-owned. I idolize this trait. I think it is amazing that this company has expanded in the way that it has and has managed to keep the company management within one family. I hope that one day I can achieve similar success. It was also interesting that the family used to live on the grounds of the vineyards but not anymore. Overall, I think it was great to see such a successful family-owned company within its industry. The tour was by far the most entertaining professional visit of the program and I felt that I learned the most because of it.

By: Gianna Meservey, 2015 Forum-Nexus alumnae

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