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4 posts from September 2015




By Aitana Hue

Providence College

I cannot believe we have already been here one month, time is going by so fast and there is still so much I have yet to discover about this beautiful city. As I now feel I am pretty well adjusted to la vida española, I can begin to see Madrid as my second home. My Spanish is improving, I feel comfortable navigating the city and I am getting the cultural experience of a lifetime.

In these past weeks I have experienced the many things Spain has to offer. This past weekend our program took a day trip to Toledo, which was one of the most beautiful, historical places I have ever been. We visited la Santa Iglesia Catedral Primada, El Museo del Greco and other fascinating places while learning the history behind the city of Toledo. Seeing the city I have read about in my Spanish classes and in Don Quixote come to life was truly amazing.

Apart from physically exploring Spain, I have been trying a lot of different foods, and I certainly cannot complain. My host family is originally from Valencia, so I have had the opportunity to try a lot of different tradition dishes from that region. My host finally made her famous paella, that her son has not stopped talking about since I got here, and it did not disappoint. It is safe to say that it was the best paella I have ever had.


When I first came to Madrid I had so many fears, along with obvious excitement. A change in language, environment, new school, and leaving my comfort zone seemed pretty intimidating. Now that I have been here for a few weeks I don’t know what I was worried about. I can communicate with the locals and I have a new experience everyday. My classes at La Universidad Carlos III are not only educational, but also very helpful in learning about life here in Spain and give reason to many of the countries aspects. Now that the chaos has subsided and reality has (sort of) set in that I am in Spain, I can’t wait to see what the next three months have to offer. 





By Kevin Flatley

Siena College

Coming to a city as large and as busy as Madrid can be overwhelming. Luckily the city of Madrid is split up into lots of different neighborhoods, each with its own personality. The neighborhood in which I will be living for the semester is called La Latina. Right away I felt a great amount of affection for La Latina. The infinite tapas bars that line the streets as well as the architecture dating back centuries make me feel incredibly lucky to call La Latina home. 

La Latina is located directly next to the central neighborhood, Sol. Being in such a central location has been lots of fun. Living within walking distance to the Palacio Real,  El Parque de Buen Retiro, and many other landmarks of Madrid has been truly incredible and has allowed me to make the most of my time here.

The city of Madrid is most alive at night. From my room I can see dozens of restaurants with people overflowing into the streets enjoying tapas and drinks at all hours of the night. Even in the quietest parts of Madrid there is always new food to try and winding streets to explore. The knowledge that I will never run out of new things to do in Madrid is just part of why I am so sincerely looking forward to the rest of the semester.




By Becca Cook

Rhodes College


I have now been in Madrid for over two weeks, and I couldn't be happier! I have had a packed schedule since the moment my flight landed in Madrid, so I feel like I have been here for much longer than two and a half weeks. I came here to learn the language, immerse myself in the city and culture, and create lasting intercultural relationships. I have already begun to do all of these things!

Madrid callesBefore coming, I was nervous that my Spanish language skills would not be sufficient, since I didn’t have as many opportunities to practice in the US. However, I didn’t have anything to worry about. I am more than able to communicate, and while my Spanish is far from perfect, I am constantly improving, thanks to our Language Commitment, classes all taught in Spanish, and conversations with my host. 

A0The short two and a half weeks that I have been here have been packed with orientation sessions, city tours, movie trips, and the beginning of classes. I already feel more independent; taking the train to school every day, walking to classes, and walking around my neighborhood, which I love. I am so happy with my neighborhood, my host, the program advisors, and the university. I can’t wait to see what other adventures lay ahead in my year abroad!






 Claremont McKenna C., Northeaster U. and Siena C. students at the university assembly hall

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, host institution of the Liberal Arts Program, organized several events to welcome international students. The Director of the International School welcomed students in a solemn act where, David Gil, representative of the International Office and professors for Cursos de Estudios Hispánicos were present. Students were informed about the importance of international students on campus as well as the impact that the study abroad experience will have on them. This presentation was followed by different introductions to the ample offering of cultural opportunities on campus giving students the opportunity to join a sports team or choir, participating in a theater group or taking flamenco classes. 


 Students getting ready for their placement exams

During the orientation, students had to take a placement exam to be grouped in different levels: from Upper Intermediate to Superior. The exam included a personal interview that allowed students to show their fluency in Spanish and their capacity to follow classes in this language. 

Once all the required events ended, we took the group on a detailed tour of the campus, showing them classrooms, printing areas, the two libraries, the sports facilities, the Language Center (where they can volunteer as assistants in English classes), both cafeterias and how to use public transportation to commute to and from Madrid. 


 Siena C., Providence C. and Rhodes C. students at Carlos III University main library



 Debod Temple at the Parque del Oeste, an unexpected surprise for the students

How exciting it can be to explore a new city, wandering around narrow streets, admiring monuments, discovering picturesque corners and finding cozy cafes and shops. Our group of students participated in several activities during Orientation which helped them get to know the city, visiting the most famous places and finding an unexpected surprise in Madrid, the Egyptian Temple of Debod, the monuments at Retiro Park or the market of San Miguel. Exploring the city was also a great way to get to know each other, find common interests, make plans for free time and observe the way Spaniards act when out and about their native city.


 Retiro Park. a favorite among the students



 University representatives and Sergio Moreno during their presentation at UC3M

CIEE Madrid host institution, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, invited the American Embassy Consular Services in Madrid to talk to American students about the services provided for them abroad as well as recommendations on health and safety to prevent common situations the Consulate has to deal with American citizens in Madrid.

 After a presentation by Sergio Moreno, American Citizen Services Chief, the CIEE students had the opportunity to talk to him informally, expressing their concerns and learning more in detail how they can be helped by the American Embassy in case of need i.e. if a passport is lost or stolen or if they need legal assistance.



A good way to dive into Spanish culture is to start participating in its traditions. Thus, we thought our students would enjoy learning about Flamenco, not by attending a show, but by learning the basics of it. Provided at the best flamenco school of Madrid, the two-hour workshop was taught by long-time CIEE collaborator Melody Nicholls, a professional dancer who, accompanied by a guitarrist and a singer, provided a very entertaining and easy-to-follow basic flamenco workshop. She also introduced students to some of the history of flamenco, talking about its origins in India and how the mix with Romany in Eastern Europe and Arabic rythms created a unique form of music and dance that is admired all over the world. 


 Siena College students getting into it


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 The group ready to ride

The newly remodeled area of Madrid Rio offers its visitors a variety of spaces to practice sports and enjoy the outdoors. Thus, on a sunny September morning we took the Liberal Arts group on a bike tour along the river to explore an area they usually don't go to on their own. Skate ramps, roller blade paths, avant guard bridges, ziplines, swings, ... many different ways to enjoy this amazing park that expands over 4 miles along the Manzanares river. This Madrid Rio Park has became one of the most popular green areas in the city. Next to it, a greenhouse, a 17th century orchard and an old slaughterhouse now refurbished as a contemporary arts center, add good value to the area to make it worth visiting. 




 Group discussion fostered debate and brought different perspectives to the topic 

When students are immersed in a new culture, there are signs, non-verbal language and attitudes that are not understood and that might make them be cautious when interpreting them. Thus, CIEE believes it is of great importance to open up a debate on how to act in situations that might put students at risk and how to intervene when they see their peers in potential danger. With the collaboration of the Spanish student network, we organized a compulsory Bystander Intervention workshop which offered the students different scenarios that invited them to reflect on what they should do if they see themselves in a similar situation. Through the analysis of case studies, the clarification of concepts and the discussion over Blake Shelton' video clip "Sangría", students had the opportunity to approach a sensitive topic that gave them a better understanding of expected behavior while being abroad



September's warm temperatures invited for some refreshment and that's why our group of students responded so enthusiastically about spending the afternoon at the pool. Still recovering from jet lag, the centrally located  swimming pool offered them a break between sessions and a valuable occasion to get to know each other more.



 The show is about to start for Ursinus C and Northeastern U students

It seems incredible that almost 30 years after its release the American film "Grease" still  counts with legions of fans. Indeed, young crowds all over the world still echoed the voices of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John and Spain wasn't going to be different. Knowing how much fun it is to watch the movie surrounded by an audience of fans, dressed in 1950s outfits, who scream to the screen following passionately the adventures of Denny and Sandy and, mostly, sing outloud the catchy sountrack, we invited CIEE students to attend the show. A group of entertainers, impersonating John and Olivia cheered on the crowd to clap hands and sing, to dance fun choreographies and especially participate in this sing-a-long show that students found really entertaining as well as culturally interesting. They were exposed to the impact of American culture (its music, its movies, its past lifestyle,...) on Spaniards and how people admire it which was very eye-opening to many of the members of the group.




Cervantes welcomed the group to the old city

Known worldwide as the city of "The three cultures", Toledo is only 44 miles away from Madrid and an enchanted place all students fall in love with. Walking around its narrow streets students were brought back to a time when mosques, synagoues and churches were not built far from each other in a harmonious climate. The House of el Greco allowed them to see not only some of the masterpieces of the Greek master, but also how a prestigious artist lived in the 16th century. The magnificent cathedral displays the power of the Catholic church, not only with its impressive Gothic architecture, but also with its rich interior full of chapels and pieces of art. During our day trip, we talked about the Roman presence in the peninsula, the Spanish Civil War and the role of Toledo in it, the old Translation School, and the marriage policy of the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand that could have changed the course of History if it had succeded.

La foto 4 (7)One of the balconies at El Greco's House