Not sure what program is right for you? Click Here

© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Study Abroad in

Back to Program Back to Blog Home

3 posts from October 2015


madrid midseason grade


By Joel Haeling

Siena College

To be honest, when I first found out that we had to write a blog at some point throughout this semester, I dreaded it. I’ve never been a good writer, often times feeling embarrassed and the fact that this blog would be on the website for all to see was exactly what I didn’t want. I chose this date because I figured since its almost exactly the midpoint of the semester and since I really didn’t have much of a choice, I thought it would be interesting to see and write how much has changed since I signed up.

At first, the 11 of us were complete strangers, who (with the exception of Ponce) could barely maintain a conversation in Spanish. This was rather tough due to the fact that we literally were only allowed to speak to each other in Spanish. While progress was gradual, I now look around and have become amazed at how far we’ve all come. We have all turned in one big family that can go the whole day without using any English to communicate (which of course we do all the time being that we signed that language pledge…).

The first night of orientation Kevin, Francesca, and myself walked home together because we obviously knew how to get home from the CIEE office. What normally is a 20-minute walk, turned into a 2-hour scavenger hunt for Francesca’s house. Then, the should-be 10-minute walk from her house to mine turned into another hour and a half. Now all of us meet up in new neighborhoods almost every weekend and somehow know exactly where we’re going. Honestly, we may as well be considered natives.

So much has changed since we all met up in the airport on August 25th. I can’t even being to imagine what other opportunities and adventures we are all going to experience together. Who would’ve thought that all you need to do is leave your comfort zone.

Grade: A+





Exploring the diverse Spanish geography allows students to discover new and unexpected places. Our weekend excursions give students a break from their academic obligations while encouraging group bonding between participants and staff.

A visit to Bilbao, the capital city of Euskadi (Basque Country) was a good start to approach cultural differences within Spain and be surrounded by a very different landscape. Our first day in the city included a tour of the old town (revising local customs related to gastronomy, the conflictive political situation in the past and the transformative power of intelligent urban projects) and a visit to Frank Gehry’s magnificent Guggenheim Museum which astounded everyone.


During the weekend we also spent some time in San Sebastian where the group was able to visit its main sights, including the beautiful beach of La Concha, home to several impressive works by the famous master sculptor Eduardo Chillida. A beautiful sunny day allowed us to enjoy the beach and learn about the International Film Festival that takes place every September in the avant-garde building by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo known as Kursaal.

After these trips, there is no doubt that our group has acquired a more in-depth understanding of the different regions of Spain, its people and its customs.


Getting a highly competitive job after graduation is a priority for most of our students. The CIEE Internship course paves the path to a promising future full of professional opportunities through exposure to an intensive experience which combines a demanding academic component, as well as a committed placement in a company, or NGO, which best suits students’ interests.

 This semester, students from the Liberal Arts Program are working as interns in different areas. For instance, working with refugees and immigrants to provide legal support for living in Spain that defends and protects them is the main purpose of an NGO where one of our students has been working during this semester. From the very beginning she has had the opportunity to integrate into the NGO as a full member, attending different activities and meetings where she is learning what the day-to-day work with people in a situation of need is like, as well as the effect of the different European immigration regulations.

 After this four-month period of hard work, students will have gone through a learning process which will facilitate their access to the best opportunities of interest in the law field back in the US.


International marketing

Telefónica is one of the most important Spanish communication corporations which is present in many South American countries as well as in Europe and Africa. Students enrolled in the CIEE course International Marketing visited as part of the class its emblematic building located on Madrid’s most popular avenue as part of the class.

Leader in technology and communication devices, during the visit students had the opportunity to see all the new products and, especially, the marketing campaigns created to keep their leadership in the market. The visit, led by the course instructor, allowed students to learn about new concepts on global marketing and international advertising campaigns, overcoming obstacles and beating competitors while maintaining the company's growth and expansion all over the world.





Separated in different mixed groups, CIEE students sat ready to participate in an activity host by CIEE and Aula de Idiomas at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. The groups filled with enthusiastic Spanish students looking forward to meeting new American friends and the CIEE students ready to have fun while establishing  first contacts with the Spaniards from the university. 

With pre-prepared questions in hand, they have three minutes to answer it in English or in Spanish before moving on to the next partner. The hour session allows students to quickly get to know their Spanish piers, and find the people they best connect with on common themes to get together later to go to concerts, practice sports or get to know Madrid’s nightlife.

After the quick ice breaker, students have the opportunity to sit with those they found a quick connection and discuss those topics of their interest before they exchange phone numbers to plan future meetings. 



Food is an important aspect of culture and a great way to explore it. Not only through the tasting of typical dishes but going deeper exploring many other indicators related to food that provide a lot of information about a culture. Thus, we took our students to some markets in Madrid to expose them to many customs in the way Spaniards do their groceries. Concepts of freshness or product display, or the way people organize turns without forming a line were eye openers ideas for the group as well as a bunch of completely new products they have never seen before as percebes (barnacles), navajas (razor clams), chirimoyas (custard apples) or nísperos (loquats or Japanese plums).

They also looked at different concepts of what a market is today: from the touristic market of San Miguel to the regular market of Barceló, where Spaniards go to buy their groceries, without forgetting new spaces where visitors can have a gastronomical experience as well as purchasing the food they just tasted (like Market of San Miguel or San Ildefonso). Students commented on the beautiful variety of colors and products in the markets and the lively atmosphere that those spaces provided, inviting them to try everything that was there.



Madrid LA Program Resident Director, Paco Frisuelos, took the lead on two different cohorts in a training program on Intercultural Communication that took place in Amsterdam during the month of October. Together with Elsa Maxwell, Teach Coordinator at the CIEE Study Center in Valparaiso, Chile; Paco facilitated a series of sessions as part of an ambitious program led to reach each CIEE employee all over the world. Mixing activities, lectures, debriefs and self-reflection exercises, both cohorts were challenged to dive deep into the field of intercultural communication and its useful application to daily duties.

Staff from France, Czech Republic, Australia, Russia, Canada, Germany, Spain, Thailand, Ireland, Peru, China, Bonaire, Poland, Brazil and Jordan enjoyed these workshops putting together new insights on the work of international education as well as coming away with fresh ideas on how approach their work in a more intercultural way, enhancing bridging among cultures.






By Helen Seligman

Claremont McKenna College

The moment the bus dropped me off in my neighbourhood of Anton Martin, I knew I had gotten lucky. Anton Martin is a bustling little neighbourhood that is no more than a ten minute walk from Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, and Gran Via. By the first two weeks I had mastered my own neighbourhood, and could navigate Sol and its surrounding areas effortlessly. However, so can most tourists. I loved what I had seen of Madrid so far, but I didn’t feel satisfied knowing that I had seen just as much as most tourists who come for a long weekend.

The next week, I got pneumonia, which at the time wasn’t great, but turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I obviously had to go to the doctor, so I made the journey to the uncharted territory of the neighbourhood of Bilbao. This was the first neighbourhood besides my own and Sol that I had walked through and explored, and I discovered that I loved it! When my pneumonia passed I returned to Bilbao to explore more in depth. I ended up two metro stops away and fell in love with every street I got lost on.

Once I got better, I started to go on runs through Madrid. The first time I ran south of Anton Martin for 2 minutes and realized I was in the amazing neighbourhood of Lavapies, filled with dozens and dozens of restaurants, a majority of them Indian (my favorite cuisine). I had no idea how to get back home (which I later realized was very easy) so I just kept running until I hit another new neighbourhood.

 I try to do this a few times a week now-- just hop on the metro and get off at a random stop or run until I’m so lost I have to ask a police officer where I am. Because of this, I now feel like I can officially call Madrid my home, and that I am officially not a tourist. I have seen more of Madrid than I would have if I had gone out each day with an end destination in mind and a map, and I recommend to everyone to go get lost.