Language & Culture, Spring 2013, Issue III
More Than A Club
“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…” This is how Harsh, from Rutgers University, began his blog post, explaining his luck at seeing a Barça Madrid game from the famous Camp Nou stadium.
This semester students have spent time in classes and in the streets talking about Spain’s current political situation. They’ve met people that want Catalonia to be independent, some who want to remain united with Spain, and in their politics class they have discussed what the reproductions could be in both situations. As part of the LC seminar, we included a talk by professor Toni Raja, who compared the desire to Catalan Independence to other movements that happened throughout Europe over the past 500 years, and showing how the continent has been politically divided over time.
Nowhere are feelings of independence more obvious than in the Camp Nou stadium on a match against Madrid. The games are fueled by a century of rivalry as well as the political sentiments behind it. As the team slogan says, FCB is “Mes que un club” (More than a club) and it does mean more to millions of fans. Harsh’s experience, backed with the knowledge he has learned through his classes and discussions, is a great way to appreciate fully what this really means.
You can read the rest of Harsh’s post here: http://study-abroad-blog-barcelona.ciee.org/2013/03/el-cl%C3%A1sico.html
How we’ve changed
The LC seminar is meant to help students gain a deeper understanding of the culture they are visiting. Throughout the semester we have had a talk on politics, on local music, on tensions and stereotypes about this part of Spain vs other regions, and had time to reflect on and share experiences.
In the last session, the “re-entry workshop,” students had a chance to reflect on their time and to remember the moments (both good and bad) that made this an unforgettable experience. They identified and learned how to explain the ways that they’ve changed and matured (avoiding the “study abroad changed my life” phrase used all too often), and how they can include their new skills in job interviews and resumes in the future. We also discussed the cultural and physical challenges of returning home after study abroad and tips for how to overcome these.
One of the best parts of the seminar is when students get back a letter they wrote to themselves on the first day of their program, 4 months ago. Most of them wrote the letter in Spanish and were able to see how much they had improved. Others laughed at what they had described as their “biggest fears” about study abroad. “I wrote that I was nervous about living with a host family and now I am so sad to be leaving them,” said Kate from Vanderbilt University, “It feels like someone else wrote this.”
A poem written for our Spring LC students from Resident Director, Marilena de Chiara:
One day you wake up.
The sun is shining on your Barcelona.
Sun and light, trees and shadows, Mediterranean blue.
Colors and flavors right deep inside you.
Together with words: new words, real words, enchanting words.
Words translating your feeling, your senses, yourself.
Parpadeando, admirando, explorando.
Te encanta: this Spanish language you made your own.Then you walk and walk and think.
While thinking, you sing and sing and see.
You see history: Barcino, the Gothic quarter, the Medieval past. Then the Eixample, two International Exhibitions, Gràcia and Raval.
You see art: Gaudí, Picasso, Miró.
You see people: from here, from there, from everywhere.
You see food: Boquería, Santa Caterina, pan con tomate y crema catalana.
In class you read, you listen, you learn: politics, elections, Spanish art and literature, poetry and metaphors, between tolerance and conflicts, social movements and contemporary media.
Language and culture.
In Barcelona, beyond Barcelona.
History and nature, Besalú and Montserrat.
Las Meninas and Guernica, art and war, streets and squares, Puerta del Sol: the same sun opening the doors of Madrid.
Compartiendo: thoughts, feelings, experiences.
In a seminar session, on a walking tour, in a cooking class, volunteering at the high school, looking your Intercambio partner in the eyes, having dinner with your host family, travelling with your friends.
And then you go back home (your home away from home), you close your eyes and smile.
And when you smile you breath and breath.
Picturing that day in your mind.
The moon is shining on your Barcelona.
Just one CIEE Barcelona day.
Just another day in Barcelona. Photo by Dina, from Northeastern University on a CIEE day trip. For more photos student's submitted to the photo contest, click here.