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Galli el pais

By Anne Gaelle Sy

Luther College


I cannot express how lucky I am to have been given the opportunity to work in the international department of the biggest newspaper in Spain, El Pais.  I have been given nothing but career boosting experiences over these past few weeks and am sure that the next ones will do nothing but the same.  Not only do I translate Spanish articles into English for them to later be published on the newspaper’s website ( , I also work on the twitter and Facebook pages creating posts for over 30,000 followers to read.  I have had the opportunity to sit in on important meetings and have a look at the behind the scenes of a worldwide recognized newspaper.  I am looking forward to the weeks ahead of me at El Pais and hope to have many more by-lines on their website from the articles I translate. 

Here was my first published translation!





Traveling to different parts of Spain is a very important element of a program whose aim is to get students to know the Spanish culture and its rich diversity better. Thus, in the month of February the group spent a weekend in Barcelona, the famous Spanish city by the Mediterranean Sea. Coinciding with the celebration of the city's patron saint, St. Eulalia, students were exposed to the political and social realities of the region as well as all the cultural manifestations of Catalan culture..


Students were able to learn about sardana, the traditional Catalan dance, which is danced in a circle holding hands. Students were invited to join and they did not hesitate. Steps are not that difficult to learn and they mingled with the locals dancing in front of the cathedral.  


As it was a holiday in Barcelona, we took the group to the Town Hall Square to learn about the Giants tradition, an old celebration in which  many cardboard figures representing old kings and queens parade in the streets swirling around as a symbolic representation of the different masters of the territories from the past.    BARNA03

It was also calçots season, a kind of spring onion that is only eaten in this region. In one of our group meals, the students could try traditional dishes of the Catalan culture, such as pa amb tumaquet, butifarra or calçots which were well enjoyed by them.  

BARNA01But being in Barcelona means learning about Gaudí and Modernist architecture. The amazing shapes Gaudi gave to his buildings still astonish visitors who fall in love with the mixture of colors and the imagination which he used to create such unique buildings. We visited some of the houses he designed along Paseo de Gracia and entered the Temple of the Holy Family, still under construction, one of the most important attractions of the city and one of the favorites for our group of students. 


A semester abroad is not only a lifetime experience, but also the opportunity to acquire professional experience through an Internship. Some of our Liberal Arts students chose that option with the aim to learn more in a professional setting, improve their resumes, and show future employers their ability to adapt to new and different working environments. Working in Madrid helps them develop new skills and also to put into practice a lot of the ideas and new knowledge they acquire in their studies. 

El pais

This semester students are very satisfied with their placements since they are aware of the relevance of this opportunity. For instance, a Journalism major is interning at EL PAIS, Spain’s leading newspaper, leader in communication and media. She works for the English section of the newspaper, translating news and writing some articles for the online version. Working in such an important newspaper will undoubtedly be a great asset to the student when she starts working for a job back in the US. This semester we also have students interning in other fields such as Film (a student is working on a documentary about Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura), Finances or Sports.

The Internship is a CIEE course which also has an academic component. Students have to meet weekly to attend a seminar on Spain and the specifics of the labor market, working philosophy and attitude toward work of Spaniards, an intercultural experience that is very eye-opening.  



This semester, the Liberal Arts Program has expanded the number of activities that foster the learning of Spanish language. Besides the traditional AELE sessions and the "Meet and Talk" events, this semester students have the opportunity to participate in language exchange meetings with Spanish students. Hosted in a local bar, owned by one of the CIEE hosts, the CIEE group were introduced to a group of Spanish volunteers through a series of icebreakers which helped them to find people with similar interests. Then, while enjoying a light drink and snacks, the groups split into pairs to chat informally. All Spanish participants had international experience, having studied abroad for one or more semesters, and for this reason, they want to stay in touch with international students providing their experience and knowledge to our students. These sessions not only provided a good practice of the language but an easy way to meet locals who can contribute to a more real experience in Spain, breaking the "American bubble".




 Madrid is an exciting capital with a varied cultural offering. Students have access to many different cultural events that can accommodate their different tastes in art, music, theater, etc. This semester we took a group of theater lovers to the amazing new playhouse in Conde Duque, a 17th century army barracks that has now been renovated as a cultural center. The play was a revisitation of Shakeaspeare's Romeo and Juliet by La Joven Compañía (The Young Theater Company), a troupe of young actors who bring topics that young audiences can connect with to the stage. In this case, the eternal love story of Verona lovers was transmitted to the TV  world of Big Brother context mixing music, images and the play itself. Students were enthusiastic about this version and the mise-en-scéne which resulted in a very enjoyable evening. 



Madrid is a multicultural city with a variety of areas with marked identities. The central neighborhoods are undergoing a rapid transformation as a result of the new urbanistic plans and initiatives which reflects the personality of their inhabitants. Not all students have an adventurous soul and those leave Madrid without visiting most of it. Thus, we organize these walks around different quarters of Madrid to help students discover new areas and a full new range of options. After visiting the most popular ones like La Latina, Sol or Malasaña, we took students on a walking tour of some areas that offer lots of interesting things and new perspectives on Madrid: Barrio de Salamanca and Lavapies. The former is a prestigious area where the high economic level is present through luxury businesses, and a different urban display as a result of being a relatively modern area of the city; the latter is one of the most multicultural areas of Madrid, where a huge number of immigrants live together with locals and where lots of social and cultural projects take place, offering an alternative view of what Madrid is.  IMG_2396


  20160311_125354[1]Visiting rural Spain can be a very interesting activity that students usually don't have access to. Little pueblos can show the authentic idiosyncrasies of Spaniards and reveal some of their values and norms for living. Thus, we took our students on a trip to La Mancha, following the route of Don Quixote, the universal character created by Miguel de Cervantes with many ideas in mind. First, we wanted those students who are taking Golden Age Literature, or have read Cervantes' novel, to visit the real scenes that can help them picture those descriptions created in the 17th century. Also, we wanted to offer a business point of view and show students how the region has developed a very interesting industry around a fictional character that seems a historical figure. Besides, a trip around places like Almagro, Puerto Lápice or Consuegra, not only bring history into our discussion, but also anthropology, learning about typical dishes like pisto manchego, local industries like wine and Manchego cheese or  traditions like cesteria (basketmaking). A beautiful early Spring day accompanied us to enjoy one of the oldest theaters in the world in Almagro and the witnessing of the functioning of windmills which still use 16th century mechanisms. Quijote



In CIEE Madrid we consider our Housing Program to be a key factor in the success of the student experience abroad. For this reason, we keep not only a close relationship with our group of hosts, but also we provide them support and guidance to help them improve the experience of having an American student at home. This month, we held our semester Host Meeting where different members of the Madrid staff participated. The Housing Coordinator, Patricia Witzig, provided all kind of updates on the program, communicated future plans, and especially she informed about all safety and emergency protocols and the role expected from hosts. After this presentation, Madrid Center Director, Eero Jesurun, talked to them about Academics, discussing student expectations and the most common incidents and situations related with exams, grades, and classes among students. To end the session, the Liberal Arts Resident Director, Paco Frisuelos, offered some training in Intercultural Communication speaking about Non-Verbal Communication in an aim to improve the way hosts can understand what students try to express. At the end of the session, hosts pointed how useful the content was and how eye-opening was for many of them. 




By Madeline Osborne

University of Colorado-Boulder

To give you an example of the first few days I will walk you through the second day of orientation. Mornings in Madrid (as far I was able to tell for the first few days) consist of waking up to the smell of coffee and pan tostada con mermelada. Orientation typically occurred right after breakfast, so I would take the metro from Lavapiés to Sol. On my second day in Madrid, I arrived at CIEE at 10, and from 10 until 1:00 we all sat through multiple orientations about security in Madrid, the culture, the differences, the language pledge we have all agreed to, etc. We then had a break until 5 where we could do whatever we desired. Initially I was going to return to the apartment as Argentina, one of my host moms, had cooked food for lunch earlier in the morning, but other people from my program were going to search for lunch nearby so I "WhatsApped" Argentina and told her that, so long as it was okay, I'd be eating lunch with kids from the program. 

After lunch, some of us decided to explore the city instead of returning home to relax and have a "siesta". We explored a lot of the area around the Puerta del Sol, including the Plaza Mayor and the Mercado de San Miguel. Closer to five, we returned to CIEE headquarters (which the Spaniards call "see-eh" instead of C-I-E-E) to meet up with other people from our group and our program director, Paco, for a tour of nearby Madrid destinations and then churros con chocolate. We returned to the Plaza Mayor and the Mercado de San Miguel while on the tour (invoking a sense of "deja vu" among some of us), but we also visited unseen sights like the Palacio Real, the building where Franco's secret police were housed, etc. We ended up at the Chocolatería de San Ginés for churros and chocolate with our host parents. And that was it. Educational, but also full of new experiences. 

During the first few days, we all discovered that we have free time over the weekends, and many of us in the program have taken advantage of this and have already explored some of the city. By the way, the student train card is very nice! You pay 20 euros and then you can go anywhere in the entire region of Madrid for one month (so 20 euros per month). During the first few days in Spain, I was definitely tired, and my feet were KILLING me, but it is definitely enjoyable, and all of the activity truly helped with jet lag (the key is to STAY AWAKE!). 

TourThere are definitely moments of homesickness in the first few days, and, naturally, there are times when I thought, and continue to think, about how much better certain things are in the USA (breakfast, especially!!!) and how much I miss said things, but, for the most part, all has been, and is, going very well. My Spanish has already improved immensely, and I am learning new vocabulary every day. Part of the ease of the transition to speaking Spanish and living in Spain, especially during the first few days, is due to the RED de estudiantes, or the Spanish students that also attend UC3M in Madrid, that help by showing us the ropes, and by giving advice, etc. 

Overall, while the first few days were certainly an active and, occasionally, difficult time, they were informative, helpful, and, most of all, fun! One of the best things about the CIEE program is that most students are from different schools, so you truly learn about and get to know each person. Getting to know the people in CIEE in the first few days, from our scavenger hunts on the metro to our excursions around Madrid, was incredible. The first few days in Madrid, without school and with plenty of free time, gave us all the opportunity to get to know the other students, the city, and to get a glimpse of the amazing life we will all lead in the next four months. 






The Liberal Arts group arrived on January 13th and were welcomed at the airport by CIEE staff who accompanied them to their homestays. Nervous and excited, they participated that evening in an initial activity to meet other CIEE staff, the Spanish Student Network and the rest of the Liberal  Arts Program students. This was the starting poing to the Spring 2016 Orientation that offered them many sessions and actitivities to ease their adaptation to Spain. 

20160113_194831Every morning students attended sessions at the Study Center where they were introduced to new approaches to topics such as safety in Madrid, the Spanish academic system, socializing in the big city, challenges for the semester, etc. Through a series of games and interative activities students were able to express their concerns about the coming months and fostered the discussion about how to make the best of the study abroad experience.


Orientation included a welcome event at the host institution, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, attended by Mr. Sergio Moreno and Mrs. Jane Strai from the American Embassy in Madrid, who provided very useful tips regarding staying safe while being abroad, as well as ennumerated a list of services the American Consulate offers to American citizens. Students toured the campus, got familiar with some of the university facilities and learned to use the commuter train that will take them to the campus every day.


But Orientation was also a time to mingle with Spanish students and get to know better everyone else better, so we organized a daily activity where they could learn more about Spanish customs, such as tours of the city, tapas night, a treasure hunt to help them learn the metro system, or a taste of churros and chocolate in one of the oldest cafeterias in Madrid. 






It is not always easy to know what to do in certain situations. It is not always easy to understand what other people's intentions could be. It could be confusing when cultural differences are present in ambiguos situations. Therefore, we host an interactive workshop on bystander intervention to examine what this is, as well as provide some tips on how to intervene in potentially risky situations.  Using real cases scenarios, very illuminating videos and some activities that invite participants to reflect, students participated in a two-hour worshop that gave them a culturally specific approach to intervention in situations that could be very common during their stay here. With the collaboration of CIEE Spanish Student Network, the workshop offered different perspectives and respected all points of views, but created a sense of group that will work collectively to preserve the safety of each other while being far from home. 




When students arrived to Madrid they are impatient to meet people their age and learn the ropes about young life. CIEE Madrid counts with the help of a group of Spanish students from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid who collaborates with the program from the start of the semester. This great group of students provides tips to American students about academic life,  what young people do, where to go, Spanish customs, colloquial Spanish, popular social apps, etc. Thus, from the very beginning, our students count with accesible youngsters who soon become their friends and an useful resource, not only in campus, but in the city as well. Our Spanish Student Network is very enthusiastic when it comes to participate in Orientation and activities. All its members have studied abroad either in the United States or Europe and they are familiar with the challenges that this experience presents to our students, so they enjoy helping them and organizing social events to take them like visiting the flea market or showing them around the most popular areas of the city.



When we proposed  participation in a Flamenco workshop to the students, the response was enthusiastic. They were excited and looking forward to the time they would meet Melody, the flamenco teacher. The day we took them to the flamenco school, no one hesitated to tap their feet onthe floor, raise their arms up gracefully, or clap their hands rhthmically. Students felt priviledged to be part in such a Spanish tradition that did not  mind the difficulties that this ancient dance entails. 


Accompanied by a singer (cantaor) and a guitarrist, Melody asked them to follow her step by step to get them to feel at ease to enjoy the choreography. They laughed out of excitement and helped each other when they were stuck in a difficult part. Melody taught them not only to dance, but also provided them with cultural background and reviewed the different rythms that make Flamenco such an unique music. When the workshop ended, the students turned to CIEE staff and asked unanimously "when are we doing this again?"



Although the students have been here for less than a month, they have already been busy participating in lots of cultural activities. Every semester, CIEE Madrid organizes a complete cultural agenda that offers a variety of activities to respond to the group participants' different interests. Activities are optional but included in the program; they are always led by a CIEE member and provide a fun but rigurous approach to culture.  


One of the first activities this semester was an exhibit about Jules Verne. The exhibit not only reviewed the life and works of the popular French writer, but also showed his visionary world of inventions and developments and his influence in the society of 19th century. Students loved to explore the exhibition discovering, in some cases, that the seed for modern inventions was in the mind of Jules Verne. 

They also participated eagerly in a cooking class. The idea of learning how to cook Spanish dishes was happily received. They all put on an apron and got ready to make easy Spanish recipes that they can practice at home and offer to their families once they return to the US. The group listened and followed instructions carefully, they worked diligently with ingredients that were  new to them and were surprised at how easy these tasty dishes were to prepare.


Part of idea of the Cultural Agenda is to bring students closer to Spain's rich artistic legacy, thus a visit to the Prado Museum was a must. With paintings by Velazquez, Goya or El Greco and masterpieces by Bosch, Titian, Rubens or Rembrandt, a tour of this amazing museum is also a history lesson. Some of the students are taking Art History classes and this visit is their first approach in situ to the paintings they will study in class. For other students, art might not be among their academic interests but they join us to visit the Prado to learn more about the royalty patronage, the influence of the Catholic Church in art, and the different languages and symbols artists used to express their souls.  20160205_155735

The month of January ended with a daytrip to El Escorial. The 16th century monastery was also the royal residence for Phillip II, the most powerful man of his time. Created to pay tribute to his Hapsburg family and his religious beliefs, San Lorenzo de El Escorial is today a good way to approach to an era where buuildings were a monuments filled with symbols that provide us with a better understanding in the way people lived (and thought) several centuries ago.


Not far from El Escorial el  Valle de los Caídos is located, the most significant monument of the Franco dictatorship. A basiclica carved-in-stone, crowned with a humungous cross is today an almost abandoned monument, still a very sensitive place for lots of Spaniards. However, it is a great scenario to teach students about the Spanish  Civil War and the Franco Dictatorship since it helps them understand what it meant for 20th century Spain and the impact of it today. The monument is located in a beautiful area in the mountains of Madrid, surrounded by trees and water, which would have been a great place for what the monument was supposed to be: the eternal resting place and tribute to the casualties of the Civil War, one of the saddest episodes in recent Spanish History.








One of the most popular destinations in the world, Granada offers visitors a dazzling mix of past and present and a rich cultural link to its historical past.  After having visited the Basque Country, in northern Spain, visiting Andalucía was a must, providing our students with a unique opportunity to see the contrast between the North and the South and observe a different way of living. Granada was also on everybody's “must-see” lists. The old Muslim palace of la Alhambra attracts millions of visitors every year and they did not want to miss it. This beautiful and perfect combination of architecture and nature, royal residence, garden and fortress has not only inspired hundreds of artists and writers, but also provides a great frame to discuss the current conflicts derived from religion and the very peculiar historical past of Spain.   

Granada is also the birthplace of world-renowned poet and playwright Federico García Lorca and the city that the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand chose as their last abode. It is a city with a lively, young nightlife based on the tapas culture, which delighted our group, and it is one of the best places in the world to enjoy pure flamenco in its multiple forms. Without a doubt it was a weekend excursion to expand knowledge and enjoy cultural differences.



As part of the CIEE course, International Business, students visited the facilities of the Real Madrid soccer club. As a way to learn about an important Spanish Brand, students were able to go over the club's strategies, known all over the world even in countries were soccer is not a major sport. Some of the most important soccer legends such as Beckham, Zidane or Ronaldo have played an important role in the marketing plans of the club, not only in publicity but also as team assets who everybody wants to see in action at least once in their lifetime. Real Madrid is not only an important company/club that generates millions of Euros every year but also one of the best soccer teams in the world, winning many international and national championships every year which speaks not only of its intelligent management but also its excellent sport qualities.




While being in Madrid, a visit to the Prado Museum is a must. The art gallery offers the visitor an excellent collection of masterpieces by artists such as Rubens, Titian, Rembrandt, and Bosch, as well as some of the best examples of Spanish paintings through the art of Greco, Velazquez or Goya. The tour was not only intended to give students a glimpse of the works at the museum,  but also to understand the evolution of art concepts and techniques, the relationship between art and society, and the role of the Monarchy and Church as collectors and patrons. Students could see, on site, some of the paintings they are studying in class and develop some skills to reflect in front of a painting.  


This semester, the CIEE Internship course invited Javier Iglesias, Founder and Director of Pygmalion Branding, an innovative company that works in professional profiles to optimize job searching. Our group of students attended a session where they reviewed the steps to follow when it comes  time to search for a job. During the session, students were given some tools and hints that can transform their job application into a more effective one. Working on their cover letters and resumés 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.



Students enrolled in the CÏEE course "Intercultural Communication and Leadership" visited  the Ayaan Hirsi Ali women's center to learn more about attention to domestic violence and abuse against women. Students in the class were offered the opportunity to learn more about diversity in Spain, since this center works mostly with Magreb women but also Latin American, Eastern European and Spanish women. The group met with the center director, Concha Méndez, who explained the different departments of the center to help women deal with difficult issues, from domestic violence to eviction, and divorce. The center has a psychologist, an intercultural mediator, a lawyer and other professionals who understand the women’s cultural differences and what is considered right and wrong in their home cultures. This was a very interesting visit where students spent time asking many different questions about the topic which helped them to compare with the same topic back in the US.

The group also visited the Royal Palace as a lead in to discuss the Spanish concept of Power Distance and Hierarchical status. A walk through the never-ending halls and chambers learning about the privileges of royalty and the way they have been living for centuries helped them to understand this concept that does not exist in the US. Students were surprised with the way they lived and by the European fascination with royalty and aristocrats such as Queen Letizia of Spain, Duchess Katherine or Baroness Carmen Thyssen




Every year Banco de Alimentos (Food Bank), a Spanish organization that works nationwide, organizes a food drive in a large number of supermarkets all over the country. The idea is to ask people to donate food for those in a precarious situation who need help to eat every day. CIEE staff decided to participate this year and volunteer  to help with the campaign. CIEE staff split into different groups to work in different supermarkets providing information about the campaign and selecting the products that were donated to prepare them for further delivery. During the weekend campaign, the expectations on food gathering were surpassed being a total success. After that, all food will be donated to different NGOs for distribution securing food for many families for the next months. A very gratifying activity before the Holiday season that CIEE staff enjoyed a lot. 




The end of November marks a very special time for students abroad. Being away from home during Thanksgiving is not always easy, and so we organized a special dinner for all the students at our Study Center. Patricia Witzig, Housing Coordinator, cooked a big turkey that delighted the group.  They all contributed with some dinner preparations bringing those dishes that cannot be missing from a Thanksgiving dinner. In an unforgettable evening, students pronounced their appreciation words and participated in different fun activities and games that made the event even more enjoyable. The celebration ended late with happy faces that showed students satisfaction and acknowledgement for a celebration that made them feel (almost) at home.   

.   Thanksgiving02


Museo del traje

Madrid has a very unique museum which provides an interesting approach to History: the Museo del Traje (Costume Museum). The collection allows the visitor to see garments from 18th century onwards contributing to the idea of daily life back then. Through this lesson on the way people dressed throughout different decades we can relate to the changing roles of women in society, the way children were looked after, societal hierarchies, the importance of accessories for social use, etc. The collection reaches the 21st century with the works of important designers and the use of new materials never before used in fashion which also speaks of the sign of our times and provides an interesting glimpse into the far future. 


The CIEE staff signed up for a charity run in the center of Madrid. Organized by a national NGO and an important corporation, the run raised funds for charity purposes. In a mass race, the blue CIEE t-shirt mixed with the runners who responded to a call of solidarity in a type of event that has become very popular in Madrid. People, just as CIEE staff, are attracted for the opportunity to contribute to those in a situation of need while practicing sports and having fun, always keeping in mind the good cause that motivates runners.


    La final

When the semester is over it is time to look back and think about the achievements everyone has made during the semester, review the goals they brought, comment on the challenges they went through and set goals for the future, but it is also a time to celebrate, get together as a group for the last time and toast for the completion of a great semester which allowed us to have a great learning experience meeting each other while learning about Spain and its culture. The group, then, went to the trendy area of Malasaña to celebrate and say goodbye to peers and staff and have a last happy memory as a group

Aitana final







By Kate Morrissett

Northeastern University

At this point in the semester, I’m certainly not the only person who has experienced that not-so-fleeting moment of panic upon opening my bag to realize that something valuable like a phone or wallet wasn’t there. Plenty of us have had to go through the unpleasant process of canceling debit cards, replacing metro cards, or using someone’s old iPod touch until we could get a new phone. While I don’t love having to call Bank of America again and again, I have to admit, getting my wallet stolen just hasn’t been the end of the world like I imagined it would be. What I pictured as being the worst experience ever has really just become a minor inconvenience. On the flip side, every good experience has been 10x times better than I could have imagined. 

Every trip I’ve taken has completely exceeded my expectations. I’ve made deeper friendships in three months than I ever expected. I’ve tried food I was convinced I’d hate and ended up liking, (I’m looking at you, croquettes with squid ink). So, yeah, my wallet may have been stolen two times too many, but at the end of the day that’s just two negative experiences in three months, and can’t come close to comparing to the countless positive ones I’ve had. 

I wish I could tell anyone who is thinking about studying abroad that all the good stuff is so much better than they think it will be, and the bad stuff isn't such a big deal after all. 





By Francesca Hidalgo

Claremont McKenna College

Before leaving, every alum tells you one thing: the next four months will be some of the best of your lives, but beware: time will fly. By this measure, the semester has been extremely predictable. The past three months passed in a flash, but have been filled exploring Madrid, traveling around Europe and making, truly, some of the best memories. We've found our place here in Madrid and although we'll never be true madrileños, we do feel at home. In many ways, our host families have become as close as, well, family; we've all had our ups and downs, and we've gotten to a place of mutual understanding and love. Life here has become so routine that the thought of going out with other friends in other cities, without the night revolving around sangría, tapas, and sol, almost feels wrong at this point. 

Yet in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am reminded of all of the things I'm thankful for- not only to have had this opportunity, but also to be going home for the holidays. To be able to see all of my families and friends for a month before heading back to school. For getting to eat dinner before 10pm, to have a 5 minute commute to class and to be living with friends. 

So on that note, here's to appreciating all the time we have left and what we have to look forward to upon return to the states. 


An open stomach leads to an open mind

By Denise Ponce

University of La Verne

One of the most fascinating aspects about Madrid is that it’s a city that is diverse. This unique hub of people has created an environment where the food is equally appealing! Of course, you will eat plenty of tapas during your stay, but part of the process of embracing a culture is being open to all other aspects of its cuisine.

I have to make a disclaimer that not every dish I ate was truly Spanish, but I did make an attempt to switch it up like ordering burgers with goat cheese, or substituting french fries for patatas bravas. For some reason I felt that the more comfortable I became with trying new food, I also became more comfortable navigating through the city and speaking to Spaniards.


Patatas y Salmon in San Sebastian

One night my friend Aitana and I even attended a Spanish cooking class and I would just like to point out to my future husband that he’s very lucky I now know how to make paella, Spanish tortilla and a killer Sangria.


Vegan Burgers in Barcelona

It’s all about opening your mind and not being afraid to truly get out of your comfort zone. One night we all went to an absinthe bar without truly knowing what to expect and although we all had mixed feelings I could vouch that none of us regret trying something new and experiencing it together. So with that being said I hope you leave Madrid with a happy heart and a happy stomach.


Paella Mixta by yours truly


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.