Not sure what program is right for you? Click Here

© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Study Abroad in

Back to Program Back to Blog Home

7 posts from November 2011


El “Invierno” de Barcelona

5cda9224c2ce59deae6271a6ba67285b Name: Kristen
CIEE Barcelona Program: Advanced Liberal Arts
Semester: Fall 2011
Home School: Gordon College

Te lo creas o no, ya ha pasado más de la mitad de noviembre, y aquí en Barcelona la gente se está preparando para el invierno. Las sandalias, los pantalones cortos, las camisetas sin mangas, todo está en los armarios, y un montón de bufandas, gorros, botas y abrigos los sustituyen. Esto es lo que pasa en la mayoría de lugares cuando empieza el invierno, ¿no? Entonces, ¿por qué hago una entrada en mi blog sobre esto? Pues porque ¡todavía hay una temperatura de hasta 20 grados Celsius, o más alta! Además, nunca es más baja de 12 grados. Para vosotros que, como yo, todavía no estáis acostumbrados al Celsius, traduzco: 20=68, 12=54.

La semana pasada, hubo una tormenta de lluvia que duró unos 5 días, y, lo confieso: tenía un poco de frío. Y cuando fui a Andorra, que está en las montañas, claro que tenía frío. Pero, venga, Barcelona, ¿cómo puedes esperar que lleve bufandas y botas cuando la temperatura afuera es más alta de 60 grados?

Como dije en mi entrada pasada, una de mis cosas favoritas para hacer en Barcelona es caminar por la ciudad. Es muy bonito aquí y me encanta andar, mirar a la gente y conocer la ciudad… Espero que antes de marcharme pueda conocer por lo menos algunas partes de la ciudad tan bien como una nativa. Pero el problema es que aunque trato de vestirme para el invierno, después de caminar tanto, no puedo llevar chaquetas y bufandas. Ya se fue mi intención de parecerme a una nativa.

Sin embargo, la cosa más emocionante sobre la estación de invierno, a cualquier temperatura, es que ¡viene pronto la Navidad! Y Barcelona se está preparando. Puedo observar los signos que significan el principio de mi parte favorita del año. Cada año en Barcelona ponen decoraciones por toda la ciudad, colgadas sobre las calles, envolviendo las farolas y los árboles. Todavía no han encendido ninguna luz (oigo que esto no pasa hasta el 1 de diciembre), pero están allí, ¡con mucha energía potencial y con el júbilo de la Navidad!

Kristen1¡No puedo esperar a ver este adorno iluminado!


Diagonal/Passeig de Gracia. ¡Mira a la calle bordeada con luces!

A mitad de diciembre, se empiezan a vender cosas de Navidad en Gran Via y Plaza de la Catedral, y ¡también venden churros! Oigo que el mejor tiempo para comer churros es en el invierno. Quizás la temperatura será bastante baja aquí en diciembre como para que yo pueda soñar de acurrucarme con una manta o comer churros frescos con chocolate.



*Visit Kristen's fantastic blog here.
**Her last blog entry can be found here.

Not long to wait now, the Christmas lights will be lit on November 30th!!



Where the hell is Matt?

Where the hell is Matt?

In Barcelona! Matt stopped by Barcelona at the end of October during his contstant travels. Here he is teaching everyone the dance:

And here's everyone teaching Matt how to do the Sardana:



KeaganName: Keagan
CIEE Barcelona Program: Language and Culture
Semester: Fall 2011
Home School: Elon University

During my semester abroad I am getting a once in a lifetime experience of living with a host mother.  My señora's name is Rocio and she has been hosting students for many years.  We have one main interest in common which is that we love to dance! 

I have taken dance classes for my entire life but these have only consisted of typical styles found in the US including ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and hip-hop.  Rocio Osuna introduced me to a new style of dance typical to Spain called “Sevillanas”.  Sevillanas is danced to traditional “flamenco style” music and done in pairs.  In my first month in Barcelona, my señora took me to a fiesta with her friends.  Here, I got to experience the true art and fun of Sevillanas not only through watching others but also by getting up and dancing myself. 

21.Keagan y Rocio- Fall 2011Aside from this memorable experience on a day-to-day basis my señora and I share conversations, which not only help improve my Spanish but also allow me learn more about the culture I am living in.  Everyday, I get to experience authentic meals, TV shows, and music.  I really am starting to feel like a true member of my community and not just a tourist passing through. Things that I found difficult or challenging in the beginning such as the metro system, navigating city streets, or everything being at later times are things I have grown accustomed to and have become apart of my daily routine.Keagan2

Living in a homestay has given me a real look into the lives of Spaniards and not just the romanticized Spain/Europe portrayed in movies.  I have had two Spanish exchange students live with my family for a year in the US so I have loved being on the opposite end of the exchange this semester.    Keagan bailando blog*For Keagan's last post, click here!


Films about (or set in) Barcelona

Whether you want to get an idea of what Barcelona looks like, or you've been here and want to reminisce, here are a few films about or at least filmed in, Barcelona. Make a big bowl of popcorn (or maybe some Bravas and croquettas) and enjoy:

    • Biutiful. Directed by Alejandro Gonzálex Iñárritu (2010).
      From the director of Amores Perros, this film brings Javier Bardem back to Barcelona for this chilling drama. Bardem won Best Actor at Cannes and was nominated for an Oscar for this role. TRAILER.


  • Rec. Jaume Balagueró & Paco Plaza (2007).
    A real-time horror film set throughout the city as a news reporter and her camera man shadow the local fire department for a night. TRAILER.
  • Inconscientes (Unconscious), Joaquín Oristrell (2004).
    Set in 1914 this is a fun period comedy showcasing lots of modernism. TRAILER.

  • Little Ashes, Paul Morrison (2008).
    Robert Patterson plays Dalí, although according to most reviews, he does so quite badly. Filmed in Barcelona and Cadaqués. TRAILER.
  • Barcelona, directed by Whit Stillman (1994).
    While filmed in the post-olypic era, the film is set in the 1980s as an expat and his American cousin try to navigate the Barcelona dating scene. TRAILER.
  • Salvador (Puig Antich). Directed by Manuel Huerga (2006).
    Based on the true story of a Catalan anarchist in the 1970s exectued under the Franco regime. TRAILER.
  •  Todo Sobre Mi Madre (All About My Mother), directed by Pedro Almodóvar (1999).
    Filmed in Madrid, A Coruña, and Barcelona. TRAILER.
  • Pan Negro, dir. Augustí Villaronga (2010).
    Dark drama about a boy growing up post-civil war in Catalunya. TRAILER.
  • Wheels on Meals, Sammo Hung Kam Bo (1984).
    Nothing like a Jackie Chan movie set entirely in Barcelona. FULL FILM. There is a great little montage at 54mins.

  • Tapas,  Jose Corbacho and Joan Cruz (2005).
    Interlocking stories of several neighbors in the suburb of l´hospatelet. TRAILER.
  • En la ciudad (In the City), Directed by Cesc Gay (2003).
    A middle class group of friends gets together often to talk about life and love. TRAILER.
  • The Machinist (la machinista), Brad Anderson (2004). 
    Almost cheating since the film is set in the US, but it was actually all filmed in Barcelona.  TRAILER.
  • Uncovered (La Tabla de Flandes), Jim McBride (1994).
    Can't find a trailer, but the film stars Kate Bekinsdale as she uncovers clues to an old murder while restoring a painting.

  • Mientras Duermes, (Sleep Tight) Jaume Balaquero (2011).
    Thriller about the portero of a Barcelona apartment building. TRAILER.

  • The Cheetah Girls 2, Kenny Ortega (2006).
    Horrible Disney film, but if you've got the stomach for it, click here. I think the entire film is on youtube.

  • Garbo: The Spy, dir. Edmond Roch (2009).
    A documentary about Joan Pujol Garcia, a spy during World War II. TRAILER

Barcelona movies1

**You can borrow many of these DVDs from La Casa, ask at reception.
*** If it's reading you're after, don't forget to check out our list of Books about Barcelona.

Let me know if I've missed something! Happy viewing!



 Teka4Name: Teka
CIEE Barcelona Program:
Architecture & Design

Semester: Fall 2011
Home School: University of Colorado Bolder

One of the coolest parts about being in Barcelona is the variety of activities. My favorite so far was a day trip a group of us took to Montserrat. We took an early train—but get there early! Otherwise…you end up sitting on the floor/awkwardly standing in the doorways for the entire hour ride. Luckily this is well worth it. Once we got off the train we could see wonderful rock formations…

The monastery is tucked in these Utah-ish formations, except grey instead of red.

The next step is getting up the mountain. We chose the more adventurous method of a tram, which is a bit unnerving if you’re scared of heights, but well worth it.

Teka2The tram that leads up to the monastery.

 After disembarking we took in our surroundings. There is a cute village at the top with a variety of little shops. Then there is the monastery itself which features the “Black Virgin” which is essentially a statue of Mary that has now turned black after centuries. This is also a stop on the famous pilgrimage of Spain, so there are quite a few people at the top of this particular mountain. You could visit the church, but we elected to start hiking right away. The view is phenomenal! I think we could actually see Barcelona and the sea!

The view from the top/part way up the mountain.

As a group we hiked up to a gorgeous view before splitting into smaller groups. Then the guys and I headed up on another trail. This one led us to a tiny chapel that was actually someone’s house. Although technically we might have been off the trail at the point. We stopped and ate lunch on the side of the mountain. It is just a phenomenal experience. Finally we realized that it was time to catch the last tram of the day down. We ran and made it down in 20 minutes. What an adrenaline rush! Then we ended up talking to the people around us in line during our wait for the last tram and the last train. It was exhausting, but one of the best days I’ve had here!

*For Teka's last post, click here.
**A guide on getting to Montserrat from Barcelona. Ask at CIEE reception to photocopy a map of the hiking trails from "The Travel Book" before you go.
***For another student's take on Montserrat, click here.


No Flash Needed

AvaniName: Avani
CIEE Barcelona Program: Language and Culture
Semester: Fall 2011
Home School: Tufts University

Entering Southern Spain was like plopping myself into a Carlos Santana soundtrack. Walking down a narrow street, letting lacey guitar notes flutter into my ears while I marveled at 4x6 paintings of subtle scenery, I got the chills and thought, "This is exactly how I pictured Spain to be."
Don't get me wrong - I love Barcelona as a place to live, and I'm not sure that I would choose to leave the northeastern part of Spain. But there's something to be said for this southern charm that exists in Seville and Cordoba. A gentle mood that is set by amber-lit buildings and a potent passion for flamenco and music. They were smaller cities, with shorter sentences (no literally - these people chop off the ends of words), and simpler happiness. The glitz of Las Ramblas was nowhere to be found here - no need for flash, camera or otherwise. The place spoke for itself.
We visited the 3rd largest cathedral in the world in Seville, which was of course breathtaking. But even more fabulous was the mosque of Cordoba, whose centermost part had been destroyed and turned into a cathedral. A brief history lesson so you know why to oogle - Initially, the king (having never seen the mosque) was chill about transforming it and told the artesans to do whatever they wanted. After seeing it some time after, however, he regretted his decision and admitted to wishing he kept the beautiful structure as was. Ironically though, after the Christian reconquest, all 300 mosques of Cordoba were destroyed, save this one. Why? Due to the inner cathedral. Ironically, the destruction of a part resulted in salvation of the whole. Funny how life works itself out like that.
Ablog1At night, I felt my heart ooze out of my eyeballs as my pupils tried to keep up with impossibly quick movements of flamenco dancers. Embarrassingly unable to hide my toothy grin and hairy goosebumps, I patted myself on the back for not yelling with emotion at their complete precision and engrossment in the form. These people entered a different world. I can't even call it performing, it was living. They were seeing, breathing, and feeling every movement with utmost joy (despite dramatic game faces that held strong), and that sincerity was what moved me the most. Not just the dancers - the guitarist's love for his music was in purest form in the way that his neck craned with the slower beats, eyelids lowered to let his heart rightfully replace his sense of sight. His fingers created rhythmic percussion with melodic interludes that had a trippy effect on me. While my mind was being sent step-per-note higher to the sky, all other senses were set firmly to the ground, feeling the constant bas(s/e). Passion has always been a pursuit and a weakness of mine, and this room was bubbling with so much of it that, call me crazy, but by the end it engaged the only other sense that had not been specifically targeted. I could taste the sweetness of being in the presence of people, doing what the truly love to do.
IMG_0916After digesting the richness of Cordoba's flavor, we replenished our pallate in the tiniest of nooks, to dine in what used to be a Roman bath house (Read: Yes, I casually slipped that in there. No, I still can't believe we could do that). After an incredible (and incredibly cheap) meal, we giddy-ly sauntered back to enjoy tinto de verano and ab-workout-worthy laughs around a table that was too small, and for that reason, just the right size.
Plaza Espanya. What? Oh, let me casually build the sickest government building with unbelievable mosaic-inspired architecture, and throw in an array of renditions of all the major cities in Spain, pop in two bridges and a moat. Right, and a gondola just for funsies. I can't even describe how in awe I was, especially after being what can only be described as emotionally roofied by the Alcazar palace moments before. Imagining what it would be like to work in a place like that hurt my heart a little, and I wondered if maybe Disney is telling the truth. That maybe there are ways to make dreams come true. I mean, there must be some people doing their 9-5 (mas o menos with a siesta in between) in that beautiful building, and are already living the life, right? As I pondered that, I spotted a slab of gray spotted marble on the floor. Yes, I pocketed it. And yes, I now have a piece of Plaza Espanya (and the government?) sitting on my desk. A friendly and heavy (metaphorically and literally), reminder of a potential dream.
We moseyed into the park, and stumbled upon more beautiful scenery, the most entertaining of which was a pond with 2 ducks insisting on diving buttocks-up into the shallow water as 5 toddlers squealed and jumped with joy. It was almost as if their laughter fueled the odd performance of the animals. I took a liking to one of these tots in particular, whose name was Carlos. He was a troublemaker, constantly inching closer to edge  despite his mother's shouts. He stood enthralled by the strange blue substance allowing these ducks to float about. He inched, and he smirked, like he knew it was dangerous, but something in him couldn't be held back. The ducks were taunting him as they began to swim away. A nearby tree branch slowly dipped its finger-ly leaves into the water, calmly and carefully tracing the dusty top of his promised land as it made ripples in its path towards him. Carlos looked confused and concerned. I waited. Finally, he ran along the perimeter of the pond, away from the tree. And although he couldn't quite figure out how to get to the ducks, he was on the right track.
*Avani has a great blog you can check out, or click here to read about a past student's impressions of Seville!



This week is the In-Edit Musical Documentary Festival sponsored by Beefeater. There are documentaries about tons of musicians and bands, all in their origional language with subtitles. David Bowie, Toots and the Maytals, Kings of Leon... there are lots of great documentaries to see.

This weekend I saw a great one about Queen, and so I felt obliged to share a little Freddie Mercury on the blog. Contary to popular belief, this song was not written for the olympics, but five years earlier when Mercury and the opera singer Montserrat Caballé colaborated on a few songs. During olympic planning the song became an early favorite as a theme and Mercury and Caballé were meant to sing it together at the opening ceremony in 1992, but Mercury passed away eight months prior.

This is a great song to add to your running mix while tackling the stairs on Montjüic!