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5 posts from December 2010

12/22/2010

Fall 2010 Photo Contest

Each semester we run a photo contest amongst the students. We get A LOT of entries, but here are a few of my favorites from Fall 2010:

Double gaudi exposure Double Gaudí Exposure
Megan - Skidmore College

Beach jumpin
Beach Jumping
Molly - Vanderbuilt University

Dusk in valencia
Dusk in Valencia
Daniel - Georgetown University

Rows'n'rows
Rows n Rows
Andrew - University of Colorado

Mediterranean Hues
Mediterranean Hues
Austin - Indiana University

Bending over backwards for barcelona
Bending over backwards for Barcelona
Kaitlyn - Hope College

Sueño de la idependencia
Sueño de la independencia
Alexis - Georgetown University

Ridin solo
Ridin' Solo
Brandon - Vanderbuilt University

Embracing the culture
Embracing the Culture
Nicholas - Georgetown University

Walking through gracia
Walking Through Gracia
Ruthanne - Northeastern University

Snap crackle correfor
Snap, Crackle, Correfoc
Brandon - Vanderbuilt University

Thanks so much for a fantastic semester! It has been wonderful having you all here!

Christmas in Barcelona

Sarah Name: Sarah
CIEE Barcelona Program: Language & Culture
Semester: Fall 2010
Home School: Guilford College

On our last days in Barcelona, there is a lot to consider, and a lot to do: packing, saying goodbye to friends, professors, boyfriends, host parents, and CIEE staff, some going-away parties, over-weight baggage, taxis, trains, airports, layovers. The list goes on and on. For some of us, we luckily get to postpone this nerve-wracking experience, just a few weeks longer... My friend Erin and I are getting the awesome opportunity to stay here over Christmas, and, what is even better, my brother has decided to visit me during the holidays!

          Erin and I are going to stay in our GA's flat for a few weeks, while he is home in Valencia with his family. We are going to get a Christmas tree and properly celebrate Christmas together. We have parties to go to and dinners to attend (and to prepare). It's going to be a Christmas that we'll never forget! There are so many different traditions that we are excited about encountering. We are collecting caganers, laughing at the Caga tió de Nadal, visiting the Christmas markets in front of the cathedral, and all the little nativity scenes set up around the city.

Sarahblog1 Sarahblog2 Sarahblog5 Sarahblog6

12/20/2010

A Menjar!

Manon Name: Manon
CIEE Barcelona Program: Advanced Liberal Arts
Semester: Fall 2010
Home School: Eckerd College

While in Barcelona, I dedicate a significant portion of my attention/thought processes to food. Thus, I figured I'd dedicate a blog post to it as well.

Breakfast is hardly noteworthy. It's even less eventful here than it would be if I were at Eckerd. It generally consists of a pear or an orange or a piece of toast if I'm ambitious enough in the morning to deal with the toaster. So I'll skip over that.

Lunch is more fun. I either have lentils and vegetables or rice from an Italian place, then yogurt or gazpacho... or a tuna and lettuce and tomato sandwich from another place. And yogurt. Always the same two places. Always the same kind of food, always the same kind of yogurt (natural). Always around 2 or 3pm. When I eat with Catalán students, they ALWAYS bring food in tupperware. And they call tupperware "tuper." It seems to be a fairly significant part of the culture. I was joking to one catalán friend one day that I feel out of place always buying a sandwich for lunch while they all bring their food from home. And she looked concerned and offered to bring me my own "tuper" the following week. I had to assure her that I was fine buying my sandwiches, and tried not to laugh. The people I've met are always very caring and generous. 
Manonmeal with host family
But nothing compares to dinner. Dinner, or cena, or sopar, depending on your language of choice. I eat dinner with my host family. Paula, my "señora" is from Argentina and cooks fantastically. Actually, Omar (her husband) is not a bad cook either. It's not that we eat extravagant kinds of food (although we have had sushi on more than one occasion), but the way the food is prepared is always muy rica. The other night we had brown rice with chicken and artichoke, cooked in a sauce with a little bit of curry. There is a typical Catalan dish that is cooked spinach with pine nuts and raisins. And we always end with yogurt. Paula loves to joke with me about the yogurt, telling me that she's going to need a salary raise from the program for the amount of yogurt I eat, or that when I leave this area of the city the market will go through a recession because she won't be buying as much yogurt. At least, I think she's joking.

Manon meal with host familyNot only, however, is there quality of food, there is quality of conversation. And quantity. Lots and lots of quantity. Sometimes 2 hours worth. It's usually just me, Paula, and Omar, but we manage to have some lively cenas. A random assortment of our dinner conversation topics in the past few weeks:

1) Che Guevara's sister (this went on for a long time. I zoned out.)
2) Did the Americans actually make it to the moon, or was it all a conspiracy? (As of now, the general consensus is conspiracy, for lack of supporting evidence.)
3) Which is better: food or sex? (females agreed on food, male was unsure)
4) Margaret Thatcher (Don't ask, I don't know why.)
5) Noam Chomsky (during which dinner Paula called her mother in Argentina because she couldn't remember one of Chomsky's quotes that she really liked)
6) Shakespeare's phrase: "Neither a lender nor a borrower be" (Paula thinks this is an outrageously egoistic, horrible statement. I had been thinking that it sounded pretty logical to me.)
7) Human digestive processes (complete with sound effects, courtesy of Omar)
8) Why Greek yogurt tastes better than other yogurt and the process of making yogurt (actually this topic is very frequent and goes into great detail.)

Manoncalcoltada3 Manoncalçoltada2Over the weekend we had our final CIEE excursion. We walked for an hour and a half up a small mountain on the outskirts of the city to get to a restaurant that serves "calçots." Calçots are a type of onion--kind of between an onion and a leek--and while eating these onions you must peel off the outer layer of grilled vegetable and lower the long, slick onion part into your mouth from above. It's a very messy process (see photos). This was the first course. We went on to be served different kinds of salads, tortilla de patatas, patatas fritas, and TONS of grilled sausage and lamb. To drink, there was red wine in special glass containers called "porros." We mixed the wine with a bit of sweet fizzy water and were supposed to pour the wine directly from the porro into our mouths, without making contact with the glass. An even trickier and messier process than the onions. The dessert was profiteroles. It was an absolute feast. Quite possibly enough food to feed Calcutta.

Manoncalçoltada1

12/17/2010

Where did September go?

Lw photo Name: Laurin
CIEE Barcelona Program: Liberal Arts
Semester: Fall 2010
Home School: Johns Hopkins University

Where did September go? I’ve been asking myself that often during the past couple of weeks, my last in Barcelona. I told myself at the beginning of this experience that it would go quickly, but I couldn’t have imagined that it would go this fast. But when I think about how much I’ve learned since that first week in Barcelona, it does seem possible. I remember waiting in the airport upon my arrival, completely exhausted, but too nervous to order a coffee for fear that I would sound strange. Many grammatical mistakes later, I am confident enough to walk into any café, restaurant, or store and ask for what I need. During the first few weeks in Barcelona, a lot of simple things like that seemed like a challenge. But they were good challenges, because each time I figured something out, regardless of how simple it was, I felt a sense of accomplishment. Last summer, I was talking to someone who had lived abroad about my impending semester in Barcelona, and she said something great that I found to be true. She told me that living in a different country was like being a kid again, because you re-learn all of the daily routines that we take for granted in a new place and a new culture. Remember how satisfying it was when you took your first solo train/bus/Metro ride? I got to have that thrill all over again! When you’re living in a different country, it’s the small things that seem like the greatest victories.

On my first night in my host home, I ate dinner with my host mom, host sister, and my host sister’s friend. I struggled with the most basic phrases, trying (with the help of photos) to explain a little bit about my life back at home. Last night, I sat in the kitchen with my host parents for the better part of an hour, discussing the differences between the education and healthcare systems in Spain and America (not as dry as it sounds!). My grammar wasn’t flawless, but if someone had told me that I would be able to participate in a conversation like that four months ago, I would have been dubious.

Everything about my experience in Barcelona has been enriching, exciting, and most of all, incredibly fun! I think that I will continue to discover changes in my way of thinking about the world even after I return to the States. And I will always have a connection to the big, beautiful, funky, colorful, proud, unique city of Barcelona.

Laurinsstreetscene


12/09/2010

Borja aka Guardian Angel

Sarah Name: Sarah
CIEE Barcelona Program: Language & Culture
Semester: Fall 2010
Home School: Guilford College

Oh Borja! What a cool guy!

            Having a guardian angel during our stay here in Barcelona has been such a cool experience. I suppose GAs are supposed to save your ass when you really need them, show you cool places to dance, eat, shop, drink... but Borja is so much more. He almost always has an answer for you. We have been given a fantastic opportunity to integrate ourselves into real college life in Catalunya.

Borja3

Borja1He has introduced us to his life; we have all become family. He has definitely become more than a GA, he has become someone we all really WANT to hang out with, a friend. Our group has gone dancing with him and his friends, we have had family dinners at his place, and we have all become very attached.
Borja2 Borja5 Borja4 His quick smile and easy-going attitude have made our stay in Barcelona so much better.

Thanks for everything Borja!