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8 posts from October 2012

10/25/2012

Fumar Mata

Name: Sarah
CIEE Barcelona Program: Business & Culture
Semester: Fall 2012
Home School:  Elon University

  Sfarland

Americans, with their heads facing the ground, smoke cigarettes in shame not so hidden. Spaniards, in great comparison, seem to inhale the airy, toxic soot confidently and as easily as the air they breathe.

Barcelona’s streets, crawling with bars that double as cafés in daylight, are highly conducive to the endurance of the existing cigarette smoking culture. However, a series of bans in recent years, some of the toughest in Europe, have attempted to impede Spanish smokers.

In 2006, smoking was banned in the workplace and large restaurants, while smaller establishments had the option to ban indoor smoking. Due to the longstanding cultural practice, most restaurants chose not to impose such a ban in fear of losing business.

In January, 2011, bar and restaurant onwers’ fears were exacerbated when another ban disallowed smoking inside their establishments entirely.  It also banned lighting up on television, near hospitals and around school playgrounds.

“It’s part of Spanish culture to light up with a coffee or a beer and now is not the right time to meddle with that,” said Carlos, the owner of a small bar in Madrid, quoted in an article from The Telegraph. Considering the current economic drought in Spain, legislators in opposition have even proposed “sealed cubicles for smokers” to be placed in public spaces.

Despite the bans, it is still typical to find cigarette vending machines in bars as well as multitude of al fresco areas for the cigarette-bearing customer. In the coming years, it will be evident if these laws are able to oust such a strong cultural characteristic.

Image

Sources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-12104056

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-12056524

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/spain/8236170/Spain-introduces-smoking-ban.html#

10/24/2012

Viviendo con una familia

Name: Sarah
CIEE Barcelona Program: Liberal Arts
Semester: Fall 2012
Home School:  Vanderbilt University

Puckett, Sarah

Tomé la decisión de vivir con una familia durante este semestre sin considerar a otras opciones. Yo había hablado con mis amigos que han estudiado aquí en Barcelona en semestres anteriores y todos ellos tenían unas experiencias maravillosas de vivir con familias españolas. Por eso, pensé que podía confiar en sus consejos de vivir en una casa española y aprovechar la oportunidad para mejorar mi español también.

Sin embargo, cuando llegó el momento de que necesitaba salir del hotel después de la orientación de CIEE y entrar en un coche con mi familia española, estaba nerviosa de conocer y ver para la primera vez a mi familia y mi hogar por los próximos cuatro meses. Sin embargo, no tenía nada de qué preocuparme.

Vivo con una familia en un barrio cerca de Sarria en Barcelona. Tengo una abuela, una madre y un padre, dos hermanos menores y un perro. Ha sido un tiempo maravilloso de conocer la vida cotidiana española en una manera que nunca habría sido capaz de hacerlo sin esta experiencia única.

Hostfam
Tengo que hablar español siempre cuando estoy en casa para comunicar, y también puedo practicarlo en niveles diferentes. Hablo en una manera formal con los adultos y aprenden vocabulario diario alrededor de la casa, pero también estoy aprendiendo palabras más coloquiales con mis hermanos, especialmente después de ver “Disney Channel” en castellano con ellos. Una de sus cosas favoritas para hacer es ver "Bob Esponja" o jugar a un videojuego de carreras (Sólo gané una vez, pero todavía estoy practicando).

Además, he probado muchos alimentos que nunca habría pedido en un restaurante y estoy teniendo las experiencias de muchas costumbres españolas - como fiestas de cumpleaños y la vida cotidiana - de una manera muy directa. Vivir con una familia ha sido una experiencia reconfortante y difícil al mismo tiempo, pero es algo que sin duda lo recomendaría. Me encanta que ahora tengo una "familia" a ambos lados del mundo.

10/23/2012

Excursión a Montserrat

Watts, LeightonName: Leighton
CIEE Barcelona Program: Liberal Arts
Semester: Fall 2012
Home School:  Vanderbilt University

En el 6 de octubre, yo fui en un excursión a Montserrat con todo el grupo de CIEE-Liberal Arts. Montserrat es una montaña se encuentra casi una hora afuera de Barcelona. La cosa más famosa sobre Montserrat es el monasterio benedictino que está encima de la montaña. En este monasterio, hay un reliquia muy famosa que es La Virgen de Montserrat, o La Moreneta. La Moreneta y la basílica del monasterio fueron muy impresionante porque el monasterio fue construido al lado de una montaña. Todas las vistas desde el sitio fueron increíbles, y pudimos ver por muchos kilómetros. Montserrat La carretera hasta Montserrat fue un poco aterrador porque nuestro bus estaba conduciendo en calles muy estrechas y cada curva nos mostró una nueva vista de la tierra abajo. Después de llegar al monasterio, tuvimos mucho tiempo para explorar el sitio. Primero, nos vimos una estructura muy interesante que se llama “La torre de entendimiento.” Este torre fue construido en un mirador muy impresionante con muchas vistas del paisaje. Aunque muchos de nosotros tuvieron miedo, algunos subieron la torre. Yo subí arriba y me levanté encima del torre. Me asusté muchismo porque fue muy alto, pero la vista y la experiencia fue vale la pena. Tower of understandingDespués de nuestro aventura en el torre, andamos mucho por la montaña y pasamos el resto del día explorando el monasterio, la basílica, y las vistas increíbles. Mi excursión a Montserrat fue una experiencia fantástica, y las memorias que puedo compartir con los miembros de nuestro programa son algunos de mis favoritas de este semestre hasta ahora. 

 

*How to get to Montserrat: http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/en/tour/barcelona-montserrat.html

10/22/2012

Fútbol - Barça Madrid

KatieName: Kate
CIEE Barcelona Program: Liberal Arts
Semester: Fall 2012
Home School:  Vanderbuilt University

Ayer fui al partido de fútbol entre Barcelona y Madrid. Los partidos entre los dos son los más importantes porque son rivales. Algunos de nosotros fuimos a un bar en Sarriá para mirar el partido. Fue impresionante.

Game
Cuando mi amiga y yo entramos, no había una silla vacía en todo del bar. Mucha de la gente llevaba las camisetas del Barcelona y todos hacían ruido. El bar tiene una pantalla grande que es especialmente para los partidos de fútbol, y no solo esto pero también hay tres televisiones más en un bar que solamente es de una sala. Nadie quería perderse ni un segundo del partido.

GameII
Cuando Barcelona marcó un punto, todo el bar fue loco. Primero todos gritaron y después empezaron a cantar una canción que todos saben. Al final, nadie ganó pero Barcelona todavía tiene más puntos que Madrid entonces no pasa nada.

Pienso que el partido entre Barcelona y Madrid fue más intenso de lo normal por la situación ahora. Barcelona, que es un parte de Catalunya, quiere ser independiente del gobierno central de España que está en Madrid. Por esta situación, pienso que el partido fue más que solamente un partido sino también un símbolo de cómo Madrid y Barcelona ahora son rivales en más que deportes. Bueno, ahora estoy muy contenta de ser una nueva hincha del partido del Barcelona.

10/15/2012

Paella!

Name: Natasha
CIEE Barcelona Program: Language & Culture
Semester: Fall 2012
Home School:  Elon University

Samtani, Natasha

     Since my arrival in Barcelona a little over a month ago, aside from the whole getting accustomed to living in a new country thing, the one notion that I have not been able to wrap my head around is the abundance of mouth-wateringly delicious food that I have seen on almost every street all over the city.  From the fresh bocadillas in the countless pastry shops to the tempting tapas menus full of tiny, yet delectable dishes, I can honestly say that my stomach never ever wants to leave Barcelona. 

     I guess the Spanish idea of food being “gastronomically pleasing” is completely accurate.  In fact, I am getting nervous that I do not have enough time to try it all.  So, naturally I hope to write about various dishes that I find exceptional over the next few months.  I thought it was would make sense to dedicate this post to the most typical dish that can be found in Barcelona…drum roll please…PAELLA.  I mean how could I not?

 

IMG_1142
Kayla LOVES her paella at Monchos!!
     Paella is basically a traditional Spanish dish consisting of rice and meats, vegetables, or seafood.  It is cooked in a flat pan called a paellera, from which it gets its name, and it takes about an hour to prepare, as it is always served hot and fresh right off the pan. My favorite kind has been the seafood option as it comes with shrimp, squid, clams, mussels, etc., but I know they are all equally satisfying. Pairing saffron rice with essentially any ingredients that you’d like, paella is a palate pleaser.  Honestly, you should probably go to the nearest restaurant and order some paella right this second.  But, for anyone who would like to create the fantastic dish themselves, maybe at home or in your cooking lounge, here is a very simple recipe for sausage and shrimp paella.  http://www.ukmums.tv/mums-columns/easy-paella-recipe

 

 

IMG_1221
...and so do Mia and Megan!

 


¡Buen Provecho!

 

CIEE staff note: If you want to know how to order a REAL paella (and not fall into a tourist trap) follow the steps on this page. And don't forget to try fideuà, the Catalan version of Paella made with noodles instead of rice, and normally served with garlic and oil sauce. Yum!

 

 

 

10/10/2012

Menu del Dia

Name: Sarah
CIEE Barcelona Program: Business & Culture
Semester: Fall 2012
Home School:  Elon University

  Sfarland

Dine in Barcelona for lunch and prepare to receive a three course experience.

“La Comida,” or the Spanish midday meal, commonly includes a “Menu Del Dia,” a menu of the day. For the first course of three, typical dishes include pasta, salad, gazpacho and vegetables.The second course tends to be a heavier dish consisting of meat or fish, such as paella, while the third course is a choice between coffee or dessert.

Despite the number of courses, ordering from the Menu Del Dia in Barcelona is the most economical option forLa Comida and usually costs around ten Euros.

An added bonus? Wine is usually included with the meal as well. ¡Buen appetito!

Casa Fidel

For more on how to order in a Spanish restaurant, click here.

Check out Sarah's blog here: http://sfarland.wordpress.com/

10/04/2012

La Mercè 2012

Name: Mark
CIEE Barcelona Program: Business & Culture
Semester: Fall 2012
Home School:  University of Wisconsin - Madison. School of Business.

La Mercè (those hipster Barcelonians are all about the backwards accent mark) is the biggest party of the year in Barcelona. We actually got Monday off for it. Friday night was the first night, and there was a light show at La Sagrada Familia, a huge church that’s been being built on and off between civil wars and the death of its creator, Gaudí. I’m going to let the pictures and video do the talking. All I’ll say is I can’t think of anything cooler I’ve ever seen in my life.

Mark1 Mark2 Mark3

  I promise it is worth watching every second of that 14 minute video.

      The next day Chris, a few people in our residencia and I explored the city a little. We maneuvered our way through the gothic district, stopping for some mediocre street performers, a meat and cheese stand, and a silky smooth Spanish guitar player.
     That night, La Mercè delivered once again. About mile away from our residencia was a free concert put on but none other than the British tour-de-force rock band, The Kooks. Chris was more pumped for this than you probably think. While I’d never heard of any of their songs (or of them, apparently, when I looked them up while writing this I realized I was thinking of The Kinks... don’t tell Chris, he’ll be devastated). They put on a good show. I stopped by La Sagrada Familia again to watch the light show from a different spot. Totally worth it. I went back early, though, to prepare for the next day.
       It was an early morning, because we wanted to catch the Castellers perform. The Castellers are groups of people who make human towers. It’s a Catalonian tradition. The first time I heard this I burst out laughing, but they’re pretty into it here. They usually start with a huge group of people at the bottom with their hands up ready to catch anyone who falls.
This is a Casteller group at a practice gym:
Mark5
And then at the Mercè in Placa Sant Jaume:
IMG_5105
Oh, and the one at the top is a toddler. Like, 3-5 years old. Also, you can’t really tell until you’re right by it being built, but every single one looks like it’s inches away from falling. The strain on everyone’s face is not comforting when you’re within crushing distance. Regardless, all the towers we saw were successful. That night was the highlight of the weekend. World renowned DJ Fatboy Slim was performing literally two blocks from our residencia. No chance I was passing that up. But first, we had the correfoc, literally translated “fire run.” This name is appropriate. Basically, people attach fireworks to pitchforks or cutouts of dragons and light them, spraying the crowd.
Mark6
It’s not as dangerous as it sounds, but it’s still pretty dangerous, especially when you go wearing only long sleeves. Just having sunglasses would have made it so much less dangerous, but I made do with what I had: Mark7You're going the wrong way, Chris:
Mark8Once you actually feel the sparks hit you and realize it doesn’t hurt at all, you get a lot bolder.
Mark9
This was so much fun. Fatboy Slim was more fun than I was even expecting, and I was expecting a lot!
To follow Mark's blog, click here: http://markcelona.blogspot.com.es/

10/02/2012

11 September

KatieName: Kate
CIEE Barcelona Program: Liberal Arts
Semester: Fall 2012
Home School:  Vanderbuilt University

 

Tuesday, September 11 was the National Day for Catalonia, the region of Spain in which Barcelona is located.  Our madre española told us there was a big demonstration in the Plaza Cataluyna starting at 6:30 so we should try to avoid being there around then.  We didn’t have class so a few of us decided to go to the beach.  Bayley (my roommate) and I decided not to bring our cell phones or much money in case someone tried to pick pocket us.  We got on the metro near our house and there was a mom with her two young daughters (probably about 8 and 5) sitting next to us.  Both the little girls were wearing Catalan flags tied around their shoulders like capes and were clearly ready to celebrate.  

1347378539_194702_1347378727_album_normal1.5 million people! Source.

When we got off the train in Plaza Catalunya around 2 there were already metro security directing people coming in to the left and leaving to the right due to the high volume of passengers.  We exited the metro and everyone seemed to be dressed in Catalan colors (red and yellow).  Once we entered our next metro, Bayley realized that she didn’t have any more metro rides on her ticket, which wouldn’t have been a problem except that we only brought a few euro with us. We realized we had just enough for her to get back if we didn’t buy anything while we were out.  We finally got the beach and realized that it was a huge and that there was no way we were going to find our friends.  We walked for about 15 minutes looking for people until we finally gave up and just decided to go it alone.  Two lessons we learned:  bring your phone to the beach if you want to meet up with friends and make sure you have enough metro passes before you leave all your money at home.

Indep1Source

We left the beach at 6 (we also had no way to tell time… which would put us at the Plaza Cataluyna right when the demonstration would begin) and decided to take the bus home to see more of the city.  The bus went one stop and then they announced that if you wanted to continue to the city you had to get off and take the metro because of the high volume of people.  There went 2 of our euro!  When we finally left the metro we came up the stairs only to realize we were right in the middle of the parade/demonstration! So we had two choices, go back down into the metro and walk for a ways under ground until we got to a line that would take us to another line and then home, or brave the crowd.  Then we realized that we only had enough euro for one more metro ride for Bayley so the first plan was scratched; we had to go straight through the heart of the demonstration!

Indep2Source

 We went to cross the street towards Plaza Cataluyna and realized that we were literally right in the center of the whole parade! I was so mad I didn’t bring my camera (third lesson we learned:  brave the ladrones when there’s something really cool going on so you can take pics) because it was amazing.  The street went a little down hill so when I stood on my toes I could see the street for miles and it was completely full of people.  There were thousands of people all dressed in yellow and red and wearing Catalonia flags.  It was a sight I’ll never forget.  Later on the news we learned that 1.5 million people participated in the demonstration.  It’s amazing that I can say I was right in the middle of a protest for the independence of Catalonia. 

Indep4Source

For more on the September 11th holiday, see this post from a former ALA student.

The Guardian had a good article on the day of the march explaining some of the reasons behind it, and this follow up a few weeks after.