CIEE MADRID LIBERAL ARTS PROGRAM - SPRING 2017 - NEWSLETTER #1
SPRING 2017 SEMESTER STARTS
The new group of Liberal Arts students arrived on a cold morning to Madrid Barajas Airport and were welcomed by CIEE Madrid staff. After resting in their Madrid homes, they participated in the Orientation activities prepared to break the ice and get to know each other better. From this point on, the group participated in Orientation sessions at the study center covering aspects on safety and emergencies, bystander intervention and academics while enjoying visiting important places in the city, and tasting churros con chocolate in the oldest chocolatería in Madrid or trying new dishes in a group dinner.
Food is an important element of the Spanish culture. Therefore, the group was invited to learn how to prepare some popular Spanish dishes like tortilla de patatas, croquetas, salmorejo or paella in a fun cooking class. Students followed the steps to prepare a full Spanish menú for them to taste, and they loved the feeling of achieving what it seemed a difficult task before they started.
Getting familiar with Madrid, its neighborhoods, its monuments, and its history was also in the agenda. A visit to the City Museum, located in a historical building with an impressive facade, gave students the opportunity to approach to the changes Madrid has gone through to become one of the most Cosmopolitan capitals in the world.
Madrid is also a city that is investing in the development of green areas where its citizens can rest, practice sports and breathe fresh air. One of these areas is Madrid Rio, one of the new parks in the capital of Spain along the Manzanares River. Riding a bike is one of the best ways to explore it, and discover its different corners and the avant garde bridges that cross the river while doing some exercise.
Once students got settled in Madrid, it was the time to host our "Meet and Talk" event to help them make Spanish friends. In collaboration with the Language Services at the host university, the event put in contact Spanish students interested in learning English with our students, so they could find people their age who enrich their experience not only practicing the language, but also getting new perspectives on Spanish culture and tips on what to do in Madrid.
The rich historical and cultural heritage of Spain allows to pay a visit to significant places and momuments like the Monastery of El Escorial, the 16th century residence of King Phillip II. The building is not only a palace, but also contains an amazing library, a beautiful church, an excellent art collection and the Royal Pantheon, where most Kings and Queens of Spain are buried. The visit was not only a History lesson for the students, but also an approach to important cultural dimensions like the Spanish hierarchical system or the problems an insitution like the Monarchy is going through nowadays. It was also an opportunity to visit the mountains of Madrid connecting students with nature after those first weeks in an urban environment.
The start of the semester also brought the first weekend excursion of the semester. The group travelled to Sevilla, the capital of Andalucia, worldwide known for its beauty and the warm character of its inhabitants. Monuments as the Cathedral were a testimony of the Muslim past of the area, where the Moorish style mixes with elements of Christianity. Thus, students were impressed by the ashtonishing architecture of the Alcazar, the old Royal Palace where the group identified some of the settings for the famous TV show "Game of Thrones".
The María Luisa Park, site of the 1929 Ibero-American Exhibit, the Barrio de Santa Cruz (the old Jewish neighborhood), of las Setas, a new modern construction made of Finish wood, were some other spots where students discovered the life in a medium size Spanish city.
This has been an amazing start of the semester, a prelude to the many different actitivities and opportunities to learn that our students will experience in the months to come.