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04/30/2018

Spring 2018 Mid-Semester Newsletter Liberal Arts Madrid Spain

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This Spring 2018 semester our students are taking great advantage of the many cultural and educational opportunities in Madrid and Spain. Our CIEE Student Life Office staff meets regularly with our Student Representative Council, consisting of five elected CIEE students from the current spring group who provide us with feedback on activities, classes, and overall programming. All students are doing well in their courses and have completed their midterm exams. Here are some other highlights from our semester so far:

Visit to a Pig Farm

The role of pork meat in Spanish culture and cuisine is an essential part of the Iberian food system. Staff organized a visit to a pig farm, approximately two hours outside of Madrid, where animals live in natural environs. CIEE hired a tour guide who explained the outdoor rearing methods of the Iberian pig in the so-called “dehesa” eco system, its economic benefit for the region as well as the controversies surrounding the export of Iberian ham to the US. After meeting the pigs up close and in person, the participants went to a small factory, run by two sisters, who make specialty hams and organize tastings. They could accommodate some exquisite local cheeses for our vegetarian participants as well as provide Hallal meat options for our Muslim students (who do not eat pork). Pig farm 2
Pig farm 2
Pig farm 2
Pig farm 2

Overnight Excursion to Extremadura

Each semester the program has a weekend overnight trip to a region of Spain that allows students to explore the cultural diversity and similarities of the country. In mid-April the group visited the region of Extremadura, located in the South West of Spain by the Portuguese border. Several students commented that it felt like a journey into the heart of old Spain, from the country’s finest UNESCO world heritage sites of Roman ruins in Mérida, to mysterious medieval cities of Cáceres and the village of Trujillo. The local tour guides explained a lot of the historical significance of the cities in Spanish and also pointed out the film scenes from recent Hollywood productions and the storylines that were used for Game of Thrones in Cáceres and Gladiator in Mérida. Students also enjoyed some outdoor kayaking to learn more about the natural landscape and wildlife environment. Extremadura 1
Extremadura 1
Extremadura 1 Extremadura LA

Spanish Student Network

CIEE collaborates with many local students who share modern furnished, WiFi enabled apartments with our participants, but also participate with our students in various cultural activities in the city. So far, some of the more popular activities with Liberal students have been visit to a day trip to a village outside of Madrid with a local resident as tour guide to explain the typical traditions of rural life outside the capital, the visit to the Real Madrid Soccer Museum, and a very successful cooking class: Visit to LA to Mejorada Visit to Soccer Museum Cooking class LA
Health, Safety and Security: Self Defense Class and Sexual Assault Allegations

This semester, CIEE staff coordinated two sessions with a self-defense instructor who met with our student in the Retiro park after classes. The idea behind this class is for participants to learn and practice safe ways to get out of potentially violent situations without getting injured. Self defense class
Recently CIEE staff also spoke with our spring students about the NBC Today show interview with US college students who accused a tour guide with Discover Excursions, which is based in Seville, of sexual assault and other disturbing behavior that occurred between 2013 and 2017.  CIEE staff explicitly advised against using this tour operator because of these serious accusations that have been made against them.  Staff also cautioned students when booking travel with any tour operator that promotes party-centric excursions. In our meetings, we reviewed the independent travel notification protocol, recommend that students travel with companions who they trust and apply the bystander intervention tactics that we discussed in our orientation if a participant sees and determine that a friend might need help. The majority of our students travel together in groups when visiting other cities outside of Madrid and have not used travel operators for any excursions to other European cities.

Welcome to Additional CIEE Staff Members

Our team is growing. This spring we welcome two additional CIEE staff members, who are collaborating full time on various tasks and responsibilities that ensure a smooth running of our programs. We are especially pleased because it allows for additional interaction and support with our participants. Francisco Pascual, worked previously with CIEE Sevilla, and moved to Madrid to join our team in mid-March- as our receptionist and support administrator. Fran is now the first face that our students see when the walk into the Global Institute. He helps to advise students with local cultural resources, but also will lend an extra hand with arranging doctor´s appointments, filing insurance claims, organizing mail delivery, etc. Fran also participates in student activities, such as our bike tour of Madrid. Fran
Maria de la Huerga, is originally from Ibiza and a graduate of the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Maria spent a year living in California as part of a university exchange program and is thrilled to help organize various activities as program assistant with our Student Life Office. Here is Maria on the kayak activity, seated in front. Maria de la Huerga

02/16/2018

Spring 2018 Newsletter Liberal Arts Madrid, Spain

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We are happy to share a few highlights of the start of spring 2018 for the Liberal Arts program in Madrid. Participants have started their classes at the host university, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid after a great welcome by our network of CIEE student helpers, the Director of the International School, the U.S. Consul in Madrid, and the on-site CIEE staff team. Of course, we could not miss a group photo in front of Madrid´s Bear Statue located at Puerta del Sol.  Madrid welcome LA
Flat buddies
Welcome 2 Workshop on Health and Safety: "Cultural Tips, Gender, and Bystander in Madrid”

Students attended a two-hour session at the Global Institute on bystander intervention. During the session, participants discussed the cultural context of giving consent with the participation of Spanish students, who helped with roleplay situations of real examples involving past students. CIEE students learned specific vocabulary and appropriate phrases in Spanish to help in social situations. CIEE staff reviewed similarities and differences in body language, such a touch, physical space, etc.

Students also reviewed and discussed social media apps and its use in Spain with their local peers: How do young people communicate and meet each other? What role does social media play and what are necessary security measures for CIEE students who opt to use social media? When should you exchange your telephone details?

This semester there are several LGTBQ+ participants in Madrid. The group discussed the health and safety of transgender and gay students who want to meet and socialize in Madrid. What does it mean when someone offers to buy you a drink? Is that a common cultural behavior or not?  The session ended with a reminder that students should be intentional about their conduct when meeting others and encourage each other to maintain self-awareness. CIEE staff also shared local resources Cultural Meeting GenderSnow Activity with Spanish Peers in Madrid Mountains

Eighteen students signed up to meet with Spanish students and CIEE staff at 7 am on a Saturday morning at the train station and travel 30 minutes to the Guadarrama National park, located in the Madrid mountains and learn about the ecology conservation efforts and participate in a snowshoeing activity.  The guided event included an explanation of the park project´s aims to protect eleven different ecosystems present in the Guadarrama mountains, including the only Iberian examples of "high Mediterranean mountain". In addition to the surprise of a lot of snow, students also had to endure 20F degree temperatures in the early morning.  Students decided not to build a snow igloo but rather find a cafeteria-bar on the mountain edge for some hot chocolate. Afterwards, when the sun came out, students engaged in throwing snowballs and sliding down some slopes.  Students returned in the late afternoon and said they felt physically exhausted after seeing so much nature and mountains. Snow 1
Snow 1 Igloo 1
Igloo 2

Local Cooking Class with Spanish Chef

Students can choose over thirty cultural activities organized by CIEE staff throughout the semester.  But one of the most popular sign-ups each semester is the gathering for some good food. In this activity, students met at the Global Institute and then took public transport to the east of the city.  Participants joined a local chef in preparing some Spanish dishes, such as paella, in a kitchen environment. The interactive class includes a review of ingredient vocabulary, methods of traditional cooking, reading out recipes in Spanish, repeating pronunciation of Spanish words and learning some basic cooking skills. Students in shared apartments can use these ingredients to make food dishes for themselves during the week with others in their accommodation. LA cooking classSpanish Language Exchange

One of the homestay hosts runs a neighborhood cultural space in Lavapiés neighborhood, considered a trendy multicultural area of Madrid with lost of Indian restaurants, Arab tea rooms, and inexpensive Spanish tapas bars. As part of the Spanish language commitment for Liberal Arts students, CIEE organizes a cultural language event with locals so that students get to meet young Madrid residents who are not students at the host university. This optional event took place during the week and allowed for participants to mingle and practice their Spanish skills. El colmo exchange

 

 

 

12/23/2016

CIEE MADRID LIBERAL ARTS PROGRAM - NEWSLETTER #3

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URBAN ART WORKSHOP

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As a response to the growing interest in urban culture, students were invited to meet local artist JEOSM to learn more about the development of graffiti in Madrid, from the earlier examples by Muelle or Glub to the recent works by E1000 or Boamistura. This workshop not only helped students to learn more about local artists but also they could design their own graffiti and work on it collectively. The group chose to paint a mural with their names surrounding CIEE and leave it as a decoration of the Student Lounge for the remaining of the semester. They really enjoyed practicing with the spray although they were surprised with the difficulty of painting with it, but they loved the experience feeling prepared to appreciate urban art from a different perspective. 

WEEKEND EXCURSION TO GRANADA

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As a complement to our excursion to Northern Morocco, students were invited to visit Granada and learn more about the historical relations between Spain and Islam. Being the last Muslim kingdom in western Europe in the 15th century, Granada is worldwide famous for the magnificent palace of la Alhambra, the official residence of the Muslim kings which became a favorite of the group while visiting its beautiful patios and the splendid garden of el Generalife.  However, Granada is much more than Alhambra as the students had the opportunity to learn during the weekend: the tapas culture that regulates social norms when going out, the ethnic diversity with the presence of gipsy communities who own most flamenco caves in the Sacromonte; the Royal Chapel with the funerary monuments for Isabella and Ferdinand, the monarchs who unified the peninsula, the poems of local writer García Lorca or the crafted works on leather that can be bought for a few Euros. All these elements, make of Granada a fascinating place, a bewitched city where time seems to stand still inviting visitors to dream. 

THANKSGIVING DINNER

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Being far from home for such an important day as Thanksgiving is not easy. Thus, we organized our popular Thanksgiving potluck, inviting the students to participate in a celebration that could make them feel at home. Besides the traditional stuffed turkey, our Thanksgiving dinner offered traditional dishes from  Spain, South Korea and Nigeria that students enjoyed a lot. Dining in a long table, all together was a great opportunity to acknowledge their achievements during the semester and thank to everyone who made possible for them to study abroad in Madrid. It was a fun and touching time which strengthened the bonds among the group before they continued celebrating in the streets of Madrid. 

FAREWELL AT UC3M

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The semester was officially closed at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid in an event where CIEE students were invited to participate. The Director of the International School at UC3M talked to the students highlighting the importance of their study abroad experience and the impact that this semester abroad should bring to their professional and academic future.  IN this informal social gathering, students had the opportunity to say goodbye not only to their classmates but also to their professors who attended the event.

NEW BOOK BY PROGRAM RD

Francisco ("Paco") Frisuelos, Resident Director for the Liberal Arts Program, is the author of a chapter in the newly edited book "Cine e Historia(s)" (Film and History) about the use of misrepresentation and invented events in Film. Published by Université París Sud, Dr. Frisuelos demonstrates how screenwriters and film directors do not respect historical truth as a narrative tool, to build their own histories that become a unfaithful mirror of History.  

This book counts with the collaboration of many faculty members and experts working in the field in different universities in Europe and South America. 

Libro

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

from

ciee madrid

Happy Holidays CIEE Madrid 2016

 

 

 

 

12/01/2016

CIEE MADRID LIBERAL ARTS PROGRAM - NEWSLETTER #2

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EXPLORING A NEW CULTURE AND A NEW CONTINENT

Marruecos 172Riding a camel is one of the activities students have on their to-do list when they plan to travel to Morocco. The idea of visiting the African continent for the first time is very attractive to most of them although they are unfamiliar with the realities of the country. Visiting Morocco with the students is, thus, a great opportunity to explore the relationships between Spain and its African neighbor and approach an Islamic country to learn about the influence of religion on people's lives while escaping stereotypes linked to it.

Our first stop was the port city of Tangiers, where writers such as Paul Bowles or William S. Burroughs got their inspiration for some of their novels from its rambling streets and colorful markets. Students were taken to a women’s center to have lunch, where they met local students and had the chance to talk about social issues regarding youth, career, family, traditions, etc. while tasting local dishes such as couscous and harira soup. The group learned about the role of women in Moroccan society and the use of the hijab, the veil that many women use to identify themselves as Muslim.

Marruecos 119

In Tangiers, students met a group of sub-Saharan immigrants who are waiting for an opportunity to cross the Gibraltar strait and enter Europe in search of new opportunities. In a meeting facilitated by CIEE staff, students were exposed to the realities of immigration, their daily challenges and the way they survive in a strange land. This was an emotional and instructive moment that opened the eyes and raised awareness about a problem that needs to be addressed urgently. 

From Tangiers we moved to the blue city of Chefchaouen in the mountains, where the group was invited for lunch by a local family, having the opportunity to see rural life in Morocco. The members of the family taught the female students how to wear the hijab and showed them how to cook tajin. In this town, the group learned how to bargain and about the bathing rituals at the Hamman. 

Sin título

As an end to the weekend, and before flying back to Madrid, the group travelled to Asilah, a beautiful beach town where they could finally ride camels, leaving the country with the feeling that it had been an intense weekend where new learnings, new approaches and lots of fun mixed together in perfect communion. 

LANGUAGE EXCHANGES WITH CIEE

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Every semester, CIEE Madrid organizes, together with the host university, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, a series of events to foster opportunities to practice (and improve) Spanish with native speakers. In a fun activity, which is very popular among university students, CIEE participants met Spaniards of their age and shared their interest in learning a new language and making new friends. American students were surprised how interested Spanish students are about  the United States, American campus life, their knowledge of American sports and the desire to travel to cities such as New York City or Chicago. CIEE students could exchange WhatsApp and friend them on Facebook, making their first acquaintances on campus with whom to practice their Spanish. 

A CLOSER LOOK TO MADRID

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As part of our Cultural Agenda, students went on a guided tour to learn about the different areas of the city, especially those neighborhoods they do not explore on their own. This past month, we took them to Barrio de Salamanca, the residential and lively area of Madrid where they found a different physiognomy of the city. Exploring the markets, the commercial area with the most famous fashion designers shops (known as the Golden Mile), the monuments in the area, the cultural options and the history behind the urbanistic plan, resulted in an enriching morning getting to know Madrid a little bit more in depth.

However, their favorite part was the cereal bar in the area where we ended the tour. With a selection of more than a hundred types of cereal from all over the world, students enjoyed a late breakfast ordering their favorite brand with tasty toppings bringing them memories from home. 

PROGRAM RD AT CIEE CONFERENCE

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Francisco ("Paco") Frisuelos Krömer, Resident Director for the Liberal Arts Program in Madrid, attended the CIEE Annual Conference that was held in Los Angeles, CA from November 16 to November 19. With a topic focusing on Global Education, Paco led a session on "Intercultural Training for Faculty to Develop Global Initiatives" where he spoke about the importance of the acquisition of intercultural skills to improve the role of Faculty in the student's learning process. Together with Elsa Maxwell, CIEE Academic Director for Intercultural Learning, and two Faculty members from Ausgburg College and Marymount University, the session received record attendance by an audience of faculty and HE administrators interested in the topic.

BIKING ALONG THE MADRID RIVER

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Discovering new areas of Madrid in the middle of the semester is always a nice activity for students. Although they like to explore the city on their own, there are areas of the city they don't visit on their own when they see them on the map. However, when our staff takes them, they discover the wonders of these new areas. This is the case of the Madrid Rio Park. Students like to run and bike in central parks such as Retiro or Oeste, but after visiting Madrid Rio it becomes one of their favorites. New bridges, lots of areas to relax, playgrounds, running tracks, bike paths, nice cafes,... a great offering along the Manzanares river that becomes a park where they return frequently. 

US ELECTIONS: HELPING STUDENTS TO VOTE

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With the US Presidential elections, the students needed some guidance in the process of voting from abroad. Thus, we invited a representative of Rock the Vote to our Study Center to help students with the process of requesting their absentee ballots and to be able to vote on time for the US Presidential election. No student missed this meeting showing their strong interest in participating in the electoral process and in supporting their candidate. Living the elections abroad is also a new experience for students by being exposed to a non-American point of view and being asked questions about the process since Spaniards are very interested in learning about this from an American. 

09/19/2016

FALL 2016 CIEE MADRID LIBERAL ARTS PROGRAM - NEWSLETTER #1

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 ORIENTATION 

Although summer is not over yet, students arrived to Madrid to start their semester abroad. As soon as they were welcomed at the airport by the CIEE Madrid staff, and taken to their homestays, the group showed their excitement for being in such a vibrant city like Madrid. As an icebreaker, students came to the Study Center to meet each other and participated in a fun activity to get to know their respective hosts better. The game helped them discover some things they have in common to make them feel closer to who their family will be while in Spain.  20160823_191135Orientation lasted a week balancing sessions on different useful topics and free time for the students to rest and adapt to Spain's way of living. The group received great support from the CIEE Spanish Student Network who acted as their first contact with people their own age, providing them with tons of tips about the city, academic life, nightlife and local customs. 20160824_184631

Among the activities CIEE offered to the group in these first days, students especially liked the time spent in the Sabatini Gardens with their hosts. The group visited these beautiful gardens which are part of the Royal Palace, giving them a new opportunity to spend time with their hosts outside of the house, getting to know them better and sharing good experiences with them.20160824_203813Their favorite activity was, without a doubt, the cooking class. The idea of learning how to cook Spanish tortilla or learn the basics of a good paella were very enticing for the students who are always ready to try new dishes. Separated into different working groups, students became chefs for a day before eating what they prepared in the most exciting lunch to date this semester. COCINA2Introducing them to local traditions was part of Orientation too, and thus, bullfighting could not be missed. However, the aim of CIEE is to be respectful with everyone's beliefs and ideas and instead of taking student to watch an actual bullfight, they visited the bullring to learn about the tradition, but they also heard how bullfighting is viewed in Spain in different areas. For some students this was a surprise since they believed bulls were not killed or they thought that everyone in Spain were fans of this ancient tradition. However, the activity helped them learn about the fiesta from an un-biased point of view and let them form their own opinion about it. IMG-20160829-WA0001

The tour of the university campus was part of this week too. Students need to get familiar with the campus and the location of the different services offered there. As a way to provide them with a first taste of the university cafeteria, we organized one of the favorite activities for the students: a group lunch there, where they started to get used to eating meals without ketchup and order without waiting in a line. 

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After these initial days in Madrid, there is no doubt that students are ready to live the study abroad experience in Madrid. 

UNIVERSIDAD CARLOS III WELCOMES CIEE STUDENTS 20160902_133711

Alvaro Escribano, Director of the International School at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, inaugurated the academic year at an event where American students were the protagonists. This event counted with the presence of David Gil, director of International Programs at the institution and Mrs. Jane Strai from the American Embassy in Madrid who talked to the students about the services provided by the Embassy to its citizens abroad. The university clubs and associations presented the different activities offered on campus that students can join to enjoy their spare time between classes, which is an excellent opportunity to make new friends.  After the official inauguration and welcoming of students, they were invited to a social gathering where they could chat with professors and meet other students.RECEPCION

 BYSTANDER INTERVENTION WORKSHOP IMG-20160903-WA0012

With the start of the semester, recommendations on emergencies and safety are a must. CIEE is very concerned about the safety of its students and it does not spare any effort to provide as many recommendations as needed to ensure a safe stay to students. Not only do we have presentations on how to live (safely) in Madrid or emergency protocols, but we also held a two-hour workshop on bystander intervention.

Being alone in an unfamiliar setting can put students at risk and that is why CIEE insists on practicing intervention, to remind students of the importance of supporting each other, especially when they go out at night. Following a series of activities and watching some interesting videos with illustrative examples, students were introduced to different ways of intervening in ambiguous situations that might be the result of local customs but not exempt of a preventive intervention to avoid major issues. 

Some students have had similar workshops on their home campuses as this is becoming a widespread practice in the US, but they mentioned that it was very interesting, and enlightening, to go to this type of workshop in a foreign context. Some students had never experienced a workshop such as this and were very thankful for opening their eyes and alerting them of the possible risks they can face and ways of preventing them by collaborating with all participants. 

EXCURSION TO TOLEDO_MG_0303

The old city of Toledo welcomed the group of students on a Friday morning. As soon as the group exited the station, the impressive old town was in sight bringing lots of questions to their heads: the idea of a city founded in an ancient time is the best incentive to want to visit it. The first stop was at the old Roman bridge of Alcantara over the Tajo River where traces of Isabella and Ferdinand introduce the visitor to a trip to the past. Other stops included the old hospital of Santa Cruz (now a museum of religious art) with its beautiful entrance, the Plaza de Zocodover (where the Muslim market took place), the Alcazar, or Fortress, with its four different facades, and the 10th century mosque next to the city walls.  

The Cathedral left the group speechless with its impressive Greco paintings, the wooden choir chairs and Narciso Tome's 18th century decorative motifs. They learnt about Toledo's main tradition (Corpus Christi), the use of the chapter room or the reason behind every altar piece. We visited the Museum of El Greco located in a reproduction of his own house, and the Museum Sefardí, one of the remaining synagogues that now houses the Spanish Jewish Museum. The Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes also completed a visit to a past known for the  co-existence of the three main religious cultures during the Middle Ages: Christians, Jews and Muslims. 

EXPLORING MADRID: LAVAPIES NEIGHBORHOOD

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Could there be anything more attractive for a group of young students than learning about the newest and most vibrant initiatives in town? That's why we invited the group to tour the thrilling area of Lavapies, the most typical neighborhood in the city that is becoming the center of the artistic scene in Madrid. Touring the streets of Lavapies we had the opportunity to discuss recent phenomena such as the ethnic diversity as a result of being the home for many different immigrants of varied origins, and the gentrification of an area that gained a terrible reputation 20 years ago and now is the most attractive area of the city to live in. 

Students had the opportunity to visit an urban garden too, an initiative of the neighbors in the area to offer their children an alternative way of living in the city: tomatoes, lettuce, rosemary, and lavender are planted next to playground areas and communal spaces that welcome all kind of visitors. However, what the group liked the most was the visit to the old Tobacco Factory. A few years ago, a group of young artists occupied this abandoned building to create a space for collaborative initiatives: free music and dance workshops are offered daily, together with free concerts, a second hand clothing trade, a crafts market, and, mainly an underground area where artists can develop their artistic interests. They met a recycling artist and listened to the rehearsal of a music band, and on top of that they took tons of photos of the hundreds of amazing graffiti that decorate the space. 

Student took good note of the location of this place, promising they will return soon to participate in the activities and mingle with members of the community. 20160914_193053

05/20/2016

CIEE MADRID LIBERAL ARTS PROGRAM - NEWSLETTER #3

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DAYTRIP TO ALCALA DE HENARESAlcalá

2016 commemorates the 4th centennial of Cervantes' death, the famous author of one of the most important books ever written, Don Quixote. For this reason, this year has been labeled as "Año Cervantino" (Cervantes' year) to encapsulate all the events and activities related to this important writer all over Spain. Cervantes was born in a little town not far from Madrid, Alcalá de Henares, site of one of the oldest and most prestigious European universities (where CIEE has a summer program).  Thus, it was the perfect occasion to visit the town as a complement to our previous daytrip to La Mancha following the steps of Cervantes' character. 

Students were surprised by the charm of Alcalá; its quiet streets surrounded by ancient buildings invited them to travel back to the 17th century when the novel was first published; its welcoming population showed their pride of this little city that played an important role, culturally speaking, in the past. The group visited the university's old buildings, the old corral de comedias (one of the oldest theaters in the world), and the house where Cervantes was born in 1547 and many other sites that resulted in a happy discovery for the group of students. 

CIEE AT THE MOVIES  Julieta

Pedro Almodovar is the most well-known Spanish filmmaker outside of the country. Winner of two Academy Awards, his films are studied in many universities and are the subject of many International conferences. Thus, attending his new film release was a special occasion for our students who love movies. "Julieta", Almodovar's latest motion picture, is a story where women have an active and protagonist role - as is common in all  of his films - but also an excellent portrait of pain, guilt, and remorse. Based on three short stories by Canadian author, Alice Munro, the movie is a good example of Spanish idiosyncrasy portrayed by a series of female characters that show the intensity of human relations in Almodovar's universe

CIEE COURSE: INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION AND LEADERSHIP1459351777365

Communication across cultures is more difficult than what it may seem at first. Students arrive in Madrid confident with their Spanish as the key tool for an effective communication. Soon, they realize that language is not enough, there is a lot of non-verbal language that they don't understand or misinterpret; cultural dimensions that are unnoticed can create misunderstandings or false expectations, leading to frustration and stress. Thus, a course like the CIEE elective "Intercultural Communication and Leadership" helps students to understand the unseen elements of Spanish culture while comparing them with their own. They learn to appreciate different perspectives, approach reality suspending judgement and be open to difference in a new way.

This course, taught in Spanish, makes them work in reflecting on the study abroad experience and how it makes them mature and grow personally, acquiring the skills that will help them to lead in multicultural environments. The course mixes classes at the CIEE study center with activities outside of the classroom, like visiting Madrid’s largest cemetery as a way to learn about the concept of death in Spanish culture, the traditions linked to it, the idea of the eternal rest and the link to religion, the display of status through tombstones, etc.

Visits to the Royal Palace, LGTBQ quarter, markets, and an ethnic immigrant enclave help them learn not only about customs but also to be more aware of signs of identity and different approaches to daily routines.

CAREER PLANNING WORKSHOP20160412_164433

Given the successful workshop that Founder and Director of Pygmalion Branding, Javier Iglesias, offered to our students last semester, we invited him again to help students to work on their resumes and cover letters, as well as become familiar with numerous resources for job hunting. The workshop helped students to use new tools to transform a job application into an effective presentation of a qualified job candidate. Working on their cover letters and resumes was also a big part of the session, where the group had the opportunity to learn how to include their study abroad experiences, not only in academic terms, but also as new acquired skills and strengths. Students were very happy with the session finding it very useful for their future plans and taking away a deeper knowledge that will help them when applying for a job.

BIKE TOURIMG_9391

The good weather invited us to go out and enjoy the outdoors. We all rented a bike and went to the area of Madrid Rio, the new park of Madrid along the Manzanares River. This area used to be a highway and several years ago it was rebuilt underground to use the area as a recreational park, full of sports tracks, green areas, fountains, and a long path for runners, roller skaters and bikers. Next to it, the Matadero de Madrid (the old Madrid slaughterhouse) is now one of the alternative cultural spaces of the capital of Spain, with it amazing movie theater, its exhibition rooms and an excellent offer of theatrical performances. Students visited it learning about the transformation of Madrid, remodeling old abandoned spaces to convert them into areas where young people, like our students, can have access to many cultural and recreational resources. 

URBAN ART WITH LOCAL ARTISTIMG_9408

There is no doubt that our students have a strong interest in urban art. When we take them on tours, they are always asking and photographing all kinds of examples of art that seem to offer a bigger connection with them than the one they can find in art galleries. Therefore, we organize an interesting activity to help them understand much better about urban art and graffiti. For the first half of the activity, they met with urban artist, JEOSM who explained the regulations about painting in the street, the different types of urban art and some of the most famous works in Madrid. After the students got a better perspective and knowledge on the subject, they were invited to paint their own graffiti. To avoid any legal issues, they painted it in the artist studio, allowing their creativity to flow while using spray cans and templates freely.

At the end of the activity, all students received a book about Madrid graffiti as a present to remember their "contribution" to this extended way of artistic expression. 

RE ENTRY SEMINAR20160420_171048

Every year, when the semester comes to an end, we organize a "Re-entry" workshop. This is a very important event for all of our programs since it provides very useful information to the students about reverse culture shock and helps them to prepare their return to the US. Students always assume that returning home will be easy, they do not expect that they could face some distress dealing with mixed feelings and finding themselves out of place even being in their own culture. The workshop guides the students through the necessary steps to lessen the transition linked to the return, helping them to reflect on the things they want to do before leaving and be prepared for what they might experience once they are back. Through a series of exercises, activities and alumni testimonials, students approach a reality that is completely new for most of them and found it of great help. 

 

FAREWELL EVENT  20160427_133226_HDR

 Time flies and the Spring 2016 semester is over. Students are done with finals and use their remaining time in Madrid to do all those things they haven't done yet or to enjoy their favorite spots and activities before they leave the country. As a way to celebrate a fantastic semester, we took the group to a final activity to the Amusement Park of Madrid. It was the time to be together for the last time while having fun and laughing endlessly. But we also met at the study center to have some snacks and play our Madrid cultural jeopardy, to test, in a fun way, how much they know about their host city, which is always a popular activity. To put the final note to the semester we prepared the following video summarizing their semester in Madrid/Spain which will help them cherish their memories of an unforgettable time.  

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