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8 posts from March 2013


The Magic Fountain

Name: Kati
CIEE Barcelona Program: Business & Culture
Semester: Spring 2013
Home School:  Indiana University

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I had heard about the magic fountain from the minute I met all of the kids in CIEE. I heard that it was something everyone had to see when they came to Barcelona. I had no idea where it was or what this Monjuic area involved or what was so special about any of it. It wasn´t until my friend had people visiting her from her school that I even ventured into that area. None of us knew much about Monjuic and actually had a bit of trouble getting to the spots we wanted to see. We paid 10 euro for a round trip to go up the furnicular and then it ended up closing before we even had the chance to ride it down. Most of the group felt discouraged from this trip and decided that they wanted to go home and take a nap. But my friend Katie and I decided that we needed to see what this magic fountain was all about. It was the best decision we ever made.

We watched the show just as the sun was setting to a music score filled with Celene Dion, classical pieces, and a few Disney tunes. Both Katie and I just sat there, our minds filled with wonder, thinking about how lucky we are to live in a city like this. When the show was over we turned around to see the art museum and pillars all lit up with beams of light shooting from behind the art museum. It was the greatest experience to see the difference of the plaza from light to dark. I think I will always say that seeing the fountain in Monjuic has been my favorite experience since coming to Barcelona and absolutely everyone must see it before they leave.


El Clásico

Name: Harsh
CIEE Barcelona Program: Language & Culture
Semester: Spring 2013
Home School:  Rutgers University

I find myself in the largest stadium in Europe. A tad fewer than 100,000 people are in the stands, getting ready for history. There’s no feeling like it. Before this trip to Barcelona, I didn’t even care much for football (soccer). This amazing city hosts FC Barcelona, the football team widely regarded to be the best in the world. The night before the game, I managed to find a ticket to “El Clásico”, the most important football game in Spain. This match between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona is much more than another football match. The teams lay everything out on the table and refuse to lose to each other.

As soon as I walked into the stadium, I was originally underwhelmed. I must have arrived 30 minutes before the start of the game and about half the seats were empty. I was definitely confused. 28 minutes later, the stadium is packed jam tight with people. There is barely any room to move. Every person is waving a flag, waiting for the game to begin.

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Cool moment in the game:

In the year 1714, Catalonia was absorbed into Spain. To honor the year, at 17:14 every half, the “Catalonia: Europe’s Next State” banner comes out.

Going to an FC Barcelona game is a “must” in any long trip to Barcelona. It doesn’t necessarily have to be against Real Madrid to be an experience of a lifetime. The tickets for games are easy to get at any FC Botiga store or online at Their stadium, Camp Nou, is easy to get to by metro and hosts the “Camp Nou Experience,” the second most visited museum in Barcelona. The stadium is often considered the Mecca for football fans.

If you are already a fan or want to be more than just an observer, I’d recommend going to:

It’s a good website to pick up on some major chants and “El Cant de Barça”, the most important song to know. There are English translations as well for those who want to know what they are actually saying. Below, I have a video that I took of the song before the game. There’s nothing quite like 100,000 people waving flags and singing in unison with passion.

A few more tips for interested people:

1.  BRING FOOD!!!  The security is more than okay with you bringing food with you. I would go as far as to say that I was one of the few people who didn’t bring a bocadillo with me.

2. If you really want to go to a major game and don’t want to pay a fortune, just wait till 2 or 3 days before the game. The season ticket holders will surrender their tickets for their money back and the will release dozens of seats! Just be quick on the trigger with your credit card out and ready to pounce!

3. Buy a cheap FC Barcelona scarf. You can definitely blend into the crowd a little bit better!

There’s NO way you won’t have the time of your life. Trust me. I went to a game where Barcelona lost 3-1 to Real Madrid. From my experience, I think the nosebleeds are the place to be for the big games. I saw 10 year olds and 50 year olds start chants even when the game looked bleak. When FC Barcelona went down 2-0, some of the people started leaving but the fans in the nosebleeds didn’t budge!!



“Bo DE B For Me”

Name: Malcom & Brendan
CIEE Barcelona Program: Business & Culture
Semester: Spring 2013
Home School:  Skidmore College & Univesity of Wisconsin, Madison.

Barcelona is known for its gastronomy ranging from expensive cuisine to small family owned restaurants that are cheap and touristy. In the Spanish culture, lunch is the most celebrated meal, which makes it easy for people to find a place to eat. Most, if not all the restaurants are open for lunch and one of the most popular items are traditional ham and cheese bocadillos. Being American, we found these typical bocadillos boring and ordinary. We often reminisce on lavish lunches at Chipotle, a popular Mexican restaurant back in the states, wishing there was some sort of replacement to hold us over for the 4 months we were her en Barcelona.

In only a few short weeks our prayers were answered as chatter among abroad students quickly began to spread about a Spanish equivalent called Bo De B. upon arrival we could quickly see just how popular it was, there was a line of about 15  kids lined up outside the restaurant waiting to get food. The experience there was unbelievable, they had fresh vegetable and the meat was perfectly seasoned. It was unlike the traditional bocadillos that are served everywhere in town, but its also unlike anything we could find in the US. It combined the tradition of the Spanish celebration of bocadillo lunches with American eating culture of heavy consumption of food. 

We noticed most of the customers that eat there were, in fact abroad students or tourists visiting Barcelona. We found that this scenario related with glocalization; A semi traditional local restaurant that has catered to a global audience. Furthermore we have decided that, even though Bo De B is delicious and inexpensive, we recommend not eating there everyday as some students are tempted to do. Barcelona has a lot of different cuisine to offer for lunch and as tourists we should experience them all.


**CIEE TIP: Looking for new spots to eat? Check out Barcelona Salir.Com and you can filter your search by neighborhood, type of food (Mexican, Indian, Spanish), and even by type of restaurant (fast food, tapas, buffet) and read reviews left by others! **


Out on the town in Madrid with my host grandfather

Name: Kristin
CIEE Barcelona Program: Business & Culture
Semester: Spring 2013
Home School: Northeastern University

In February, both my host siblings got really sick so my host grandma came from Madrid to help take care of them. Because she stayed a month, her husband missed her so I got to meet my host grandpa when he came to Barcelona to surprise her. When he found out I was coming to Madrid with CIEE, he invited a friend and I to dinner with him and his friends. 

Pepe, Yiyo, and "El Zorro" picked us up from our hotel and treated us to endless amounts of seafood in a restaurant often frequented by players on the Madrid futbol and basketball teams. They patiently helped us practice our Spanish and even renamed my friend Logan "Maria." Because they are friends with the owner, they took a picture of our group at the table to frame on the wall among pictures of other guests dining at the restaurant.Using more connections, my host grandpa and his friends shared their VIP access at a club with us and the night was one of the highlights of my semester!

Spending time with my host grandparents was another blessing along with my wonderful host family.  I will miss them when I return to the US but we will definitely stay in touch! 



Visita de Castellers!

Name: Sydney
CIEE Barcelona Program: Liberal Arts
Semester: Spring 2013
Home School: Occidental College

Sabía que habría diferencias culturales entre los Estados Unidos y España antes de llegar, pero no fue hasta que vi los castellers que me di cuente que Barcelona era bastante extraña. Y cuando digo extraña, me refiero la absolutamente maravillosa. Hasta este momento había visto el correfoc, locas actuaciones en el  metro, malabaristas en medio de la calle, un museo de esculturas de chocolate, y muchas otras cosas locuras de Barcelona. Pero los castellers fueron lo más extraño y lo más fascinante para ver, y yo soy de Austin, Texas, así que eso dice mucho! Fuimos a ver el ensayo de los castellers un viernes por la noche. No tenía ni idea de que esperar y estaba un poco irritable porque acababa de despertarme la siesta, así que las cosas no no pintaba bien. Caminando por las calles oscuras de Gracia, yo no tenía ni idea que mi mundo estaba a punto de cambiar! Lo primero que vimos al entrar en el gimnasio fueron niños pequeños trepando por las paredes, las escaleras, las personas, cualquier cosa que imagines, ellos pueden escarla. Al instante, yo estaba fascinada.

Comenzamos la visita con un curso intensivo sobre los castellers. El capitán del equipo fue nuestro guía. Nos explicó los objetivos, la historia, por qué llevan pañuelos rojos y apretados alrededor de sus cinturas, por qué se muerden el cuello de la camisa, y todo lo que quisieramos saber. Me encantó escuchar toda la información pero estaba preparada para ver la acción! Creo que lo que me fascinó más de los castellers fue la variedad de personas que participan. Desde los enormes hombres, a las mujeres pequeñas, a los niños de cuatro años, todos trabajaban juntos tan fácilmente. También, es increible ver cómo trabajan en silencio. Mirando el ensayo, estaba claro que estas personas nacieron para subir uno encima del otro.


Antes de que llegaramos a ver las actuaciones más complicadas, nos dejaron probar algunas escaladas a nosotros mismos. De alguna manera, era la única persona dispuesta a ir la primera. Así que fui, escalé mi primer humano. Es interesante como cada grieta del cuerpo puede ser usada para subir- detrás de las rodillas, el hueso de la cadera, y finalmente los hombros. Me sentía invencible encima de los hombros de esa persona, pero también muy consciente de que él podría ole mis pies.

Ver los castellers es, sin duda, uno de mis cosas favoritas que he hecho en Barcelona. Podría haberme quedado mirandolos eternamente, pero era hora de tapas y vino.

Casteller from Mike Randolph on Vimeo.


trabajando con niños

Name: Nikki
CIEE Barcelona Program: Liberal Arts
Semester: Spring 2013
Home School: University of California, Irvine

Antes de venir a España, he tenido mucha experiencia trabajando con niños de diferentes edades. Cuando veía que había una opción de hacer un trabajo con los niños en el programa de Liberal Arts en CIEE, especialmente en una escuela como una ayudante de una clase, yo quería saber más sobre esa oportunidad. No tenía ninguna idea previa.

Nikky1El trabajo es en una escuela privada cerca del Selva de Mar, y se llama Centre d’Estudis Montseny, o Escuela Montseny. Es una escuela para los edades de 3 a 18, incluyendo los grados de la primaria, segundaria, ESO, y bachillerato. Yo ayudo en 4 tipos de clases: del primer grado (1A y 1B) que tienen 6-7 años, segundo (2A y 2B) que tienen 7-8 años, los niños de 3 años (pA), y los niños de 12 años en el primer curso de ESO. Por lo general, estoy trabajando con los chicos del primero y segundo en sus clases de inglés, con la misma maestra para ambos grados. En total, trabajo por 8 horas cada semana.

Cada día es una experiencia única e inolvidable, y todavía estoy emocionada de ir a las clases y ver a los niños. A lo largo de todas mis experiencias trabajando con los niños, nunca he conocido un grupo de chicos tan cariñosos e inteligentes. Cada clase, tienen un montón de preguntas sobre mi vida, como “Una cosa: ¿qué comes en California?,” “una cosa: ¿con qué mano escribes?,” “una cosa: ¿tienes hermanos?,” y (lo más interesante) “¿Por qué estas estudiando el castellano en una ciudad catalana?” Todavía, tienen preguntas sobre mi vida y lo que estoy haciendo aquí en Barcelona.  Pero lo más importante, nunca me hacen sentir como un extraño, solo alguien que viene de otro lugar pero ahora es una de sus compañeras. Aquí están unos dibujos que hicieron para mí.

Nikki3Algo interesante, también, es el punto de vista de mis estudiantes sobre los Estados Unidos. A veces me preguntan sobre la calidad de vida allí, y las escuelas de los estudiantes de la misma edad. También, tienen un sentido de admiración de las cosas que vienen de los Estados Unidos, como las películas y videojuegos. Un ejemplo de eso es cuando un día, uno de mis estudiantes del segundo grado me dio un dibujo y me dijo que “cuando vuelvas a los Estados Unidos, tienes que darle esto al creador de Mario Brothers.” Aquí está el dibujo, y es interesante porque él no tiene ninguna idea de que el videojuego de Mario Brothers es de Japón. ¡Qué mono!


Catalonia's Unique Culture

Name: Kaylyn
CIEE Barcelona Program: Business & Culture
Semester: Spring 2013
Home School: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

I planned on going to Barcelona for over six months before finally boarding the plane on January 1st, 2013. I thought I had an idea what Barcelona was all about, I knew that they had tapas, an incredible Barça Futbol Club, and amazing Gaudi architecture. Little did I know there was so much more.

I always associated Barcelona as being a part of Spain, but shorty after arriving here I learned that the majority of the people prefer to be associated with Catalunya. Through numerous classes and discussion with locals I learned that Barcelona is responsible for a large percentage of the nation´s GDP and provides a great deal of economic support to other regions of the Spain including Andalucia. Many Independents wave a different Catalan flag with a blue triangle to show their support for Catalunya to secede from the rest of Spain.


Catalan Flag

Independentist Flag

Not only are the Catalan people different politically, but also culturally. I went on a weekend trip to the Andalucian town of Málaga. After this trip I realized that Barcelona and Catalunya are not quite as “Spanish” as I was expecting. Málaga had bull fighting, Iberican jamón, and flamenco. Barcelona has these things as well but are not quite as prominent. I think it is interesting that Barcelona is often branded as a part of Spain even though they don´t always want to be associated with the Spanish brand, and they are so much different.


I have fallen in love with Barcelona and their unique culture and architecture. I knew I was expecting something different, but I appreciate what I know now and understand.


Want to play tour guide?

Name: Brandon
CIEE Barcelona Program: Business & Culture
Semester: Spring 2013
Home School: University of Wisconsin - Madison School of Business

          When my girlfriend visited Barcelona the first day we were here we walked all the way across the city to Montjuic. I figured this would be the best way to show her the whole city, get a feel for the different neighborhoods, and see the beautiful Olympic area and castle.




   We went through the Parc de la Ciutadella, explored the gothic area and stopped at the Cathedral, and ended up on La Rambla. After walking for a while down La Rambla, we got picnic supplies at the Boqueria and headed through Raval to Plaza Espanya. We checked out the national palace and then the Olympic area and had lunch in the square there before continuing up to the castle. The castle was gorgeous in the sunset, and when it was dusk we hiked down the other side into the Parallel district and got on the subway there.

The reason I'm including this day in this blog post is because it was an awesome way to see a large part of Barcelona, from the Port Olympic district all the way to Montjuic. We got to experience the newer, Eixample part, and then the Gothic area and the Rambla and the great views from on top of the mountain. If anyone brings friends here who have limited time and want to experience a lot of Barcelona in an exhausting but fulfilling fashion, this is definitely a good way to do it.

Market3Another intersesting aspect is that this tour included no Gaudí works, which the city is so well known for. This way, the next day could be full of Gaudí pieces, like Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, and the block of discord. This will give visitors who are only in town for a weekend an excellent contrast in the themes of the city, and help them understand how diverse, unique, and amazing the city is.