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6 posts from April 2011


Spring 2011 Photo Contest

While Advanced Liberal Arts students are still here (and studying hard by the looks of it), the other CIEE Barcelona programs ended last week. As always, we ran a photo contest and got some fantastic entries. Here are a few of my favorites (click on photos to enlarge):

Blog- Torre Calatrava at sunset Torre Calatrava at Sunset
Olivia - Portland State University

Blog - Bird & Sunset (Costa Brava) Bird & Sunset (Costa Brava)
Chase - Skidmore College

Blog - Come Fly With Me
Come Fly with Me
Jocelyn - Tufts University

Blog - I've seen London, I've seen France, I've seen Spanish underpants
I've seen London, I've seen France...
I see Spanish underpants.
Liza - Providence College

Blog - Our New Hobby
Our New Hobby
Jessica - Brandeis University

Blog - Valencia Experience
Valencia Experience
Siohban - Cornell University

Blog - The Ride of our Lives
The Ride of Our Lives
Joe - Fordham University

Blog- Reflections
Alice - University of Tulsa

Blog - mammoth  and me
Mammoth & Me
Liesel - Providence College

Blog - pond reflection
Pond Reflection
Aubrey - Vanderbilt University

Blog- Through the Lens Through the Lens
Liza - Providence College

Blog-Port at Night
Port at Night
Lindsey - George Washington University

Blog- Museo at Daybreak Museo at Daybreak
Katie - Vanderbilt University

Check out last semesters' photo contest here.


Springtime in Barcelona

Chriss1 Name: Chris
CIEE Barcelona Program: Business & Culture
Semester: Spring 2011
Home School: University of California, Berkley (enrolled through Spellman College)

I'm not sure how Barcelonans acknowledge the shift from winter to spring. There definitely isn't a man with a monocle in an oversized trench coat waiting for a groundhog to run from its fearsome shadow. So far, there hasn't even been a fashion change - no local would dare wear flip flops or short sleeves. All I know is that spring is here, just in time to give us sunburn and T-shirt weather before we fly back across the pond.


Chris6 Chris1 The energy has grown along with the leaves. Just by walking down Las Ramblas or towards the Port, there seems to be more people out and about. Gelatto places are overflowing. The line for Bo-de-B is out the door and then some. The street vendors walk up to you with dollar beers and offer "cerveza beer, something else?" Trees are somewhere between green and purple or both. This is the Barcelona weather we've been waiting for.
Yesterday, we were so excited that the weather was finally nice that we decided we didn't need sunscreen at the beach. Bad idea.

Chris4Here's something worth noting - in Spain, Frisbees are like UFOs. They never throw them and they're scared when one comes towards them. We've busted out the frisbee the last two weekends, and more people than you can count stop to watch this foreign, flying disc. I think they're amused by how much we like it. In Europe, father and son don't go out to the backyard to play catch...just to play kick I guess?

A day at the beach Chris7 in Barcelona is like a day in the bazaars in Morocco. If you ever want to be in a situation where you can buy beer, coconut, henna tattoos, shawls, five euro massages, or maybe some sort of suspicious drug without getting up from your beach towel, Barcelona is the place for you. Who knows, you might even get to see the token naked weirdos walking up and down the shore. It's no doubt great for people watching. The locals say that only tourists go to the city beaches. After hearing the intercom announcements being repeated in Spanish, Catalan, English, French, German and Arabic, I believe them. Apparently, there are crystalline, less crowded beaches just a few miles up the coast. Hay que aprovecharlas!


like this and that

Abby Eras Name: Abby
CIEE Barcelona Program: Architecture & Design
Semester: Spring 2011
Home School: Arizona State University

These last couple weeks in Barcelona have been all about projects! In my foundations in architecture studio we have been working on designing a house in the Gracia neighborhood of Barcelona, and I really like seeing how the design process is coming together.

First we went to the lot to do a site analysis, which included looking at the other facades of neighboring buildings, calculating the slope of the street, measuring, and taking some notes about the conditions of the site. Then we worked on building models and setting up floor plans. Finally, before we leave we are going to do a final rendering using the SketchUp program on the computer.

Site Visit Facades
While in my Architectural Composition IV class at Universitat Internacional Catalunya we are working on a project about buildings and public services in Barcelona.  In groups we are preparing a model and an informative panel for an exhibition.

There is only one American student per group so I have been able to practice speaking Spanish with my 3 Spanish group members. While we work together I like asking them about the culture here and they ask me about my life back home. It is so funny sometimes when we compare differences.

The other day when we were preparing a presentation a guy in my group got really serious looked at me and said “Abby I have a question, in the United States do they call Las Vegas, Vegas sometimes?”
“Yes they do,” I replied
“But why??” he persisted, “People don’t call Los Angeles, Angeles.”

Another time I commented to my group, “You can’t buy eggs for breakfast in Barcelona. It is really different for me.”
This prompted a group member to ask me, “Is it like the movies where you live? You know, where the mother prepares a big breakfast in the morning and then the children go meet the yellow school bus?”
But before I could answer another guy said, “They exist! I went to California and I saw yellow school buses!”

Too funny! Anyways, talking with them has definitely been a really cool learning experience for me!

Abby's previous post is here.


Hacia Tierra Salvaje

Chris3 Name: Chris
CIEE Barcelona Program: Liberal Arts
Semester: Fall 2010 & Spring 2011
Home School: University of Colorado at Boulder

It seems a lot of students have similar travel plans: Amsterdam, Berlin, Lisbon, Marrakech, Paris, and the Alps. The Alps are sort of the odd one in the group in that they present a higher risk of getting frostbite or buried in the bottom of an alpine crevasse. However, it seems that after several weeks near the ocean some students need a change of scenery and jet towards the most well known mountains of the continent. Not that I recommend against the Alps, in fact I have some great memories of steep skiing, shivering bivouacs, and acute altitude sickness, but despite the loss of brain cells incurred by those activities I can still reason that a lot of people might not be looking for such adventures. Maybe there is an alternative...

Chris1 According to a recent and reliable 30 second Google search Spain is the second most mountainous country in Europe (after Switzerland). Sure there are the nearby “mountains” like Montjuic and Tibidabo, and the slightly farther Montserrat, but my six month long hands-on research has also shown that within a two hour drive in any direction (except east) one is sure to come across some sort of interesting mountainous terrain. For rock climbing and hiking the terrain is endless, and a trip to any Barcelona mountain store is sure to inspire a trek into the wild. For skiing the Pyrenees are the under-appreciated mountain range to the north offering excellent skiing at better prices and less-likely-to-cause-frostbite temperatures. Several companies offer round trip deals from Barcelona to the Pyrenees making transportation a breeze.

Chris3 In order to take full advantage of the nearby terrain I recommend checking out some of the local clubs and organizations. It turns out that the Club Alpí Català, founded in 1876, is the oldest in Spain and one of the oldest in Europe. More importantly these days the club offers an endless variety of weekend adventures, some for complete beginners and some for seasoned outdoorsmen. Nearly every weekend in the appropriate seasons there are trips going hiking, cycling, nordic and alpine skiing, rock climbing, mountaineering, ski mountaineering, and canyoning (and I guarantee you’ll have a better time than the guy in 127 Hours). The truth is that Cataluña offers countless daylong and weekend adventures and can keep the avid outdoor enthusiast occupied for a lifetime. If you’re not interested in an adventure, the mountains of Spain offer casual and relaxing days in the sun too, even in the middle of winter. So, at the very least think twice about booking that flight to the Alps, a trip to the local mountains might be more rewarding and even a bit more relaxing.


*Chris' personal blog is full of stories of his rock climbing adventures around Spain. His most recent post on the CIEE blog can be found here.
**There are some other tips for getting outdoors in Barcelona available here.


algunas fotos de este mes

Manon Name: Manon
CIEE Barcelona Program: Advanced Liberal Arts
Semester: Fall 2010 & Spring 2011
Home School: Eckerd College

1. Carnaval en Vilanova: dura 4 días y consiste en una cabalgata por la noche, donde la gente desfila en grupos, cada uno de ellos pertenecientes a una organización y disfrazados de algo que satiriza aspectos sociales y políticos actuales.

Carnaval a Vilanova: 4 day long event which includes a parade at night, during which people go out in groups, each a part of a certain "organization," and each group dresses in costume meant to satirize some aspect of society:Manon1 Manon2 2. Carnaval a Vilanova. La Comparsa: Esta es la parte más tradicional del Carnaval de Vilanova, en la que grandes y pequeños, hombres y mujeres, salen disfrazados con trajes tradicionales, en parejas, y cada pareja es miembro de una organización (los niños y los hombres salen con chaquetas estampadas y diseñadas específicamente por su organización). Hay música, bebidas y tiran caramelos, a la vez que las parejas bailan por las calles durante horas, compitiendo entre las diferentes organizaciones. Después del desfile, hay una gran lluvia de caramelos en la Plaça de la Vila. Eso es más intense de lo que esperaba. ¡Cuidadolos niños pequeños!

Carnaval a Vilanova: la Comparsa: A very traditional part of Carnaval in Vilanova, during which boys and girls, men and women alike go out in couples wearing traditional clothing--and each couple is part of an organization (the boys and men wear specifically patterned jackets depending on the organization.) There's music and drinking and throwing of caramelos, as the couples dance through the streets for hours in the morning, and an attitude of friendly competition between organizations. After the parade, there's a huge candy fight in Plaça de la Vila. It's more intense than I thought. Not a safe activity for kids!

Manon3 Manon4 3. Recorrer la costa por los acantilados entre Vilanova y Sitges.
Walking on the cliffs between Vilanova and Sitges:Manon5 4. L'auberge espagnol- Una casa de Locos un jueves por la noche.
The Spanish Apartment (If you haven't seen the film) - My apartment on a Thursday night: 
[All-year students have the option to live in an apartment during their second semester]
Manon6 5. Improvisación de Castellers y concierto de Els Pets (grupo de rock catalán) en Vilanova.

Impromptu castellers display at an Els Pets (Catalán band) concert in Vilanova:


my mom in barcelona

Bridget Name: Bridget
CIEE Barcelona Program: Business & Culture
Semester: Spring 2011
Home School: Indiana University


I've spent the past 5 days being my Mom's tour guide for the city of Barcelona! I am soooo lucky that she was able to come visit me and see why I love this city so much.  It felt as if my two worlds were colliding as I showed her my residencia and school. It was so great that she was able to get a taste of what my experience abroad is like.  To make the experience even better, the weather was absolutely AMAZING the whole time she was here! It was sunny and high 60's so I was sure to take her to the beach quite a few times! The picture above is one I took while we were sitting at the beach. It was such a perfect day :-)

Bridget2 Besides showing my mom where I live and go to school, I was also excited to show her all my favorite restaurants and bars around the city.  My absolute favorite restaurant is called Rosa Negra.  It's close to the Urquinaona Metro Stop which is very close to CIEE.  One night my friends and I all took my mom to Rosa Negra for some great mexican food! The picture above is all of us at Rosa Negra. It was such a great night!!  Another restaurant that I took my mom to was called Milk.  Milk is in El Borne and has the BEST breakfast food - delicious smoothies, omelets, and pancakes! I was so excited to find this breakfast place because prior to Milk I couldn't find any place that served pancakes!

Bridget3 One of the tourist sites I took my mom to was the Olympic Stadium. While we walked our way up to the Stadium, we stopped in Poble Español.  The first picture above is Poble Español.  It was amazing to see the architecture of all the buildings inside.  I learned that all of the buildings are modeled after the architecture of over 1600 towns and cities throughout Spain and Portugal. 

Bridget4 My mom stopping to see the scenery on our way up to the Olympic Stadium.

Bridget5 The last picture is the view of the track.

Being my mom's tour guide made me realize how much of I learned about this city and how comfortable I have become here.  I really couldn't image a better city to spend a semester abroad than Barcelona.  Although I'm sad to only have 3 weeks left here, I know I will be back someday :-)