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3 posts from May 2014







The group visiting "Las setas" the new and modern structure in the center of the city 

If there is a city that could best represent what is a powerful idea of Spain, that is possibly Seville. Located in the South of the country, the capital city of Andalusia is a great escape to dive into a rich culture and history. The muslim past of the city, the historic presence of the Jewish community, the ongoing importance of the Catholic Church and the traditions linked to it or the importance of the river for the local economy where some topics that we discussed during our visit. Students absolultely fell in love with the city, its impressive preserved monuments and enjoyed climbing up the Giralda Tower. Participants also learned some flamenco dance with a local flamenco star and also reenacted Star Wars while visiting Plaza de España where some of the film scenes where shot.  

More photos? Click here 




CB grupo

When our students joined Student Services Coordinator, Sonia Sales, to go to the theater, they did not expect that the venue had prepared many surprises for them. The play was the commercially succesful "Campanadas de boda" (Wedding bells) performed by La Cubana, a popular theater company from Barcelona. They are famous not only for their sense of humor but also for their innovative approach to theater. The play, about a wedding preparation included many jokes and twists that students enjoyed a lot. During the last part, the theater was quickly transformed in a wedding chapel, making all the audience members participate as the guest for the ocassion with fun hats. Students could not believe they were part of the play and the wedding. Singing along, following choreographies and even participating in the play were part of a night that our group will hardly forget.

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SLL Students in front of Consuegra's windmills 

If there is a popular passage in Cervantes' "Don Quixote" that is when the protagonist attacks some of the  windmills that he believes to be ferocious giants. However, the novel presents a sojourn of a country gentleman through the region of La Mancha, a mostly rural area in central Spain that is hardly visited by students. Using the novel as the excuse and the symbol of this universal character of representation of Spanishness as the threat, students enrolled at the "Spanish Cultural Studies - Seminar on Living and Learning" course were able to visit little towns as Almagro, Consuegra, Puerto Lápice and Tembleque, all mentioned in the book. The idea was to explore many different Spanish values comparing urban life in contrast with rural Spain. Concepts of time, family, and traditions were the starting point for discussion and reflection while visiting old plazas, the oldest theater in Europe or the famous windmills. All these spots provided a great opportunity to learn about history, local economy, societal norms and mainly, how Spain is more than what the image shaped by stereotypes, gaining a deeper knowledge of what it means to be Spanish.    

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"Selling" the Study Abroad experience to future employers is not an easy task. Having the students talk about these four months of their lives further than with adjectives as "amazing", "awesome", "fantastic" seems even harder. Therefore, at the end of each semester, we offer a Re-Entry seminar that help them reflect on the experience and verbalize it in proper terms. It is important that they know the audience and highlight what best suits their interests, especially when a future career is in mind.

The ReEntry seminar is also a great tool to introduce the "reverse culture shock" concept, and idea that is unfamiliar for them and that seems unrealistic. However, at the end of the seminar, students seemed as something very likely to happen to them and they felt prepared to deal with it. Exercises, tips and guidelines were provided to help them.



  The group was impressed by the Mausoleum and the history behind it 

Spain is a country with countless opportunites to revisit history. The long tradition of preserving its old buildings and monuments pays off when students visit them to recreate the historical events related to them. Not far from Madrid is the historic place called El Escorial. This amazing building was the residence for the powerful King Phillip II in the 16th century and it holds a monastery, a palace, a royal pantheon, a school, a library and a church. Besides its apparent austerity was the home for the most powerful man of that time who reigned over "the empire where the sun never sets". This visit was a good way to learn about Spanish monarchy, religion wars, colonization, and other subjects related to today's world.

In the afternoon we visited the nearby Mausoleum of "Valle de los Caídos" (Valley of the Fallen), a monument built to pay homage to casualties of Spanish Civil War (1936-39). However, the presence of Dictator Franco's grave in the main altar has charged this place with a lot of political connotations linked to his Dictatorship too. The way people cope with this piece of recent history was a good way to learn for the group of students who were able to see not only the aesthetics of dictatorship (similar to other European countries) but also how wounds are still open among Spaniards when it comes to talk about this important historical period.

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Enjoying a beautiful day before visiting El Escorial


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Time flies and the semester has come to an end. After a week of finals, and before students leave Madrid, the CIEE staff organized a farewell event to enjoy the company of all the students as a group for the last time. Drinks and food were served while students shared their memories of what has been a great semester. They all agreed that this was one of the best experiences of their lives, learning a lot about the culture, about the country and about themselves. It was very rewarding to compare the students today with the time when they arrived: they have matured, grown as humans and have made significant progress with their Spanish.

CIEE organized a fun game to be played by teams with the goal to see who was the one with a better knowledge of Madrid. Easy and tricky questions were part of a fun game that crowned a student from Gordon College as the one with the best knowledge of Madrid. The group loved the activity and suggested we play it throughout the semester in the future.

A video containing the best moments of the semester, was a good way to review all the activities and accomplishements the students have  made during these four months, a good exercise of memory that will feed their nostalgia when they are back  home.

CIEE group 2014



LA Program RD with Professor Gloria Camarero  at Carlos III University

This has been an extraordinary semester for Francisco Frisuelos, LA Program RD in terms of professional development and achievements. While working in several articles to be part of different books, and becoming part of a research project in conjunction with Birmingham City University, University of Sussex and Free University professors, he was awarded with the medal of honor of Universidad Carlos III de Madrid as a Doctor of that institution. In a solemn ceremony, he was awarded with his medal in the presence of the university president and all vice rectors, as well as all the other doctoral recipients.

In addition,  Francisco has taken part of a six-month training in Intercultural Development that was completed in early May with his certification as an IDI administrator. The IDI (Intercultural Development Inventory) is a very useful tool to assess intercultural competence and reaching out cross-cutural results. This qualification will be used as a valid tool when it comes to work with future students who come from different background and cultural values.  

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Receiving his IDI Certification as Administrator of this Intercultural tool.








Por Tessa Biskup

Siena College

Al principio, la transición entre mi propia cultura y la cultura española no fue fácil porque hay normas, valores e ideas que son demasiado diferentes entre las dos culturas. La clase Spanish Cultural Studies - Seminar on Living and Learning me ha ayudado a desarrollar herremientas para aprender sobre los valores, normas e ideas diferentes que usaba durante el cuatrimestre apra adaptarme a la vida en España. He tenido experiencias únicas como tener una pareja cultural para hacerle preguntas sobre la vida en  España y eso me ha dado la oportunidad de tener conversaciones reales sobre la vida en España, las perspectivas que ella tiene como española y sus opiniones sobre su propia cultura, además de sobre la cultura americana. Durante el cuatrimestre fue muy interesante tomar tiempo para tener conversaciones con mi pareja cultural donde podíamos hablar y comparar nuestras vidas, opiniones e ideas para el futuro y mi pareja cultural se ha convertido en una buena amiga.

Durante el cuatrimestre fuimos en excursiones a varios sitios interesantes para aumentar lo que hemos aprendido. Algunas de nuestras excursiones mas interesantes fueron la excursión a dos barrios de Madrid (Chueca y Lavapiés) y nuestro viaje para conocer la España rural haciendo la ruta de Don Quijote.  En la excursión de Chueca y Lavapiés aprendimos sobre la historia de los dos barrios y cómo sus historias tenían un impacto en el barrio de hoy. Otra excursión que fue muy interesante fue la Ruta de Don Quijote, donde exploramos la vida de la gente en España fuera de las ciudades. Me encantó esta actividad porque fue algo totalmente diferente. No había pensado en que hasta ese punto solo había visto ciudades en España y en realidad no sabía cómo funcionaba la vida en los pueblos. Aprender sobre la vida cotidiana en un pueblo fue muy especial porque pude aprender sobre una manera de vida completamente diferente a lo que había aprendido sobre las normas de vida en Madrid. La vida va más despacio, es mas tranquila y esto era importante para mi porque me di cuenta de cómo la vida puede funcionar diferentemente en distintos sitios.

Durante el cuatrimestre, he aprendido ideas que me ayudaron a entender los valores y normas de personas de otras culturas y mis propios valores y normas. Esto me ayudó a adaptarme a mi vida aqui y me ha permitido crecer. Con las herramientas que he aprendido puedo analizar situaciones que, al principio, parecen raras (pero realmente paso solo porque hay diferencias culturales) y he aprendido cómo explicar, resolver y sentir empatía por personas cuando hay problemas de comunicación y resolverlos.

La clase Spanish Cultural Studies - Seminar on Living and Learning me ha servido durante mis estudios en España porque durante el cuatrimestre me ha permitido tener experiencias que nunca hubiera tenido si hubiera ido por mi cuenta, además aprendí a reflexionar sobre estas experiencias para enriquecerlas. Fue reconfortante saber que podía ir a clase con cualquier pregunta que tuviera sobre España y ahora que estamos concluyendo el cuatrimestre, siento que, cuando tengo interacciones con otras culturas, puedo acercar mis preguntas y resolverlas sin ayuda porque tengo mis propias herramientas y he establecido una base para resolver problemas.





By Stephanie Mann

University of Minnesota

As a junior in college, I will soon be reaching the end of my undergraduate career. As each semester goes by, I realize more and more that real-life job experience is incredibly important. Being away during my spring semester, I knew it was vital to continue seeking professional work opportunities, and CIEE provided just that.

Acting as a course, the CIEE Internship places you with a company based on your resume, interests, and field of study. As a public relations major interested in event planning, I was placed with an events and communications company called Last Lap. The group I was assigned to was working on a project for Red Bull called Wings for Life World Run, a global race taking place in over 30 countries to raise money for spinal cord research. 

My experience at my internship was phenomenal. Everyone at Last Lap was incredibly friendly to me since day one, and I had the opportunity to work on a global project for a global brand--something that will be a great portfolio piece for me in the future. The weekend of the race, I traveled to Barcelona with the team and was able to work hands-on with various aspects of the event. As someone interested in event planning as a potential career, I found the entire experience extremely useful and interesting. Having the opportunity to be on-site at such a huge production was an invaluable experience for a student like me. 

For future CIEE students, I would highly recommend doing an internship in Spain. Not only do you get real work experience, but you also get the opportunity to see it all happen in another language--something that not many people get to do! With future job applications, I know that using my time at Last Lap will be extremely useful and I couldn't have asked for a better company to work with!