The 80/20 Rule in Study Abroad Programs with Rich Kurtzman

interviews study abroad


If the pandemic has taught us anything it's that everything we believed about study abroad programs in the before times was not necessarily true. 

For instance, that virtual and online programs could never be a viable compliment (or competitor) to in-country experiences...but here we are. 

Over the last two years, Rich Kurtzman, founder of Barcelona Study Abroad Experience, had to ask himself and his team tough questions about the programs they offer, how they support students, and what really moves the needle in student learning. 

And that meant completely remastering what they do and building back an even strong BSAE. 

I hope you enjoy this candid and real conversation with Rich. 


What you’ll learn in this episode: 

  • Why Rich started a specialized study abroad company that only focuses on one city
  • How BSAE creates immersion opportunities for students that they actually want to do
  • PLUS how the pandemic helped Rich apply the 80/20 rule to study abroad programs
  • The #1 thing BSAE does that I think every program everywhere should replicate
  • What Rich believes most intercultural programming is missing (and how to bring it into any program)
  • Reliving the turmoil and trauma of the first weeks and months of the pandemic
  • Learn one of the core values of BSAE - fem pinya - and why it’s so important to the organization
  • How the parable of the Greek fisherman influences Rich’s approach to growing the company
  • And more!





Rich Kurtzman has been working in EA since 1998 but began his journey by studying in St. Petersburg and Madrid, interning in Milan, and leading groups of students in Spain. He moved from Chicago to Barcelona in 2002 to begin working with students in a variety of capacities, including Academic Director, Intercultural Consultant and as a professor of intercultural studies. In 2009, Rich founded Barcelona SAE and has been the Director ever since. Some past presentations at conferences include: Increasing Cultural Awareness in Short-term Programs: A Toolkit of Activities, and Helping Students Make the "Right" Decisions: Using Choice Architecture and Nudge Theories, and Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained: How to Support Failure and Build Intercultural Competence. Rich earned an M.A. in Spanish Applied Linguistics and Second Language from the University of Il-Chicago. Rich’s book, “Like a Fish in Water: How to Grow Abroad When you Go Abroad” is  a cultural guide for students studying abroad filled with activities and anecdotes to further help them grow abroad when they go abroad and will be available in early 2022.



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