CIEE Barcelona Program: Language & Culture
Semester: Spring 2014
Home School: University of Iowa
These past few weeks in Barcelona have somewhat been a blur. Not only is it truly amazing how many things I have seen and done here, but it is also amazing how many things I have not yet seen or done. Before I left for this trip, four months seemed like a perfectly adequate amount of time to do everything I wanted to do, but now, I realize that it is not nearly enough time (though I can always use this as an excuse to come back!).
I’ve already done and seen so many incredible things and have gotten to take advantage of amazing opportunities. For example, last weekend, we traveled as a program to Madrid and took a day trip to Toledo, an ancient Spanish city with incredible views and amazing historical exhibits. Another highlight of the trip was our visit to the Reina Sofia Museum, which is home to Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, an incredibly moving mural and one of Picasso’s most famous works.
Palacio Real de Madrid
These opportunities have been amazing, but I think the opportunity I’m most thankful for and that I think will be the most rewarding is the opportunity to volunteer as a student teacher. Every Wednesday, starting this past week, I get to act as a student teaching assistant at a school called Escola Pia, which is only a block away from CIEE. There, for an hour, I get to help ten Spanish students learn and practice their English. After one session, I can already tell that it will be my most rewarding experience here. On Wednesday, we talked the entire session with almost no gaps in conversation. We spent the hour introducing ourselves and talking about the various cultural differences between the United States and Spain/Catalonia.
My teaching partner, Vivian (who’s also in my program) and I were impressed with the students’ English speaking abilities and intrigued by their impressions of American culture. We had interesting discussions about the differences in our two countries’ education and health systems; a small conversation about American slang, of which we will expand on next week; and the Greek system in American universities (Vivian led this conversation, as I am not in a sorority). I’m incredibly glad that I chose to take part in this wonderful volunteering opportunity and am excited for the rest of the semester to unfold!
Vivian, my teaching partner, and I in Madrid