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8 posts from March 2014



Name: Hilary
CIEE Barcelona Program:
Liberal Arts
Spring 2014
Home School
: Vanderbilt University

Durante mi tiempo en Barcelona, he tenido muchas experiencias nuevas y divertidas que voy a recordar para el resto de mi vida. Un recuerdo que es muy bonito para mi es cuando mi programa y yo fuimos a una caminata a las colinas de Barcelona y después tuvimos una comida tradicional catalana. Este viaje fue el primer viaje con mi programa nuevo y con las personas que no conocía muy bien. Fue una oportunidad para conocer mi programa mejor y formar amistades duraderas.


Primero, caminamos durante una hora y media al punto más alta de la colina y vimos una vista espectacular. Me quedé muy sorprendida por la belleza de Barcelona y de la capacidad de ver vistas hermosas tan cerca de mi casa en Barcelona. Conecté con la gente de mi programa mientras caminábamos por la colina hasta el restaurante catalán.

Quijotes2Cuando llegamos al restaurante, nos sentamos en una mesa larga en una habitación que tenía una vista espectacular de Barcelona. Los dueños del restaurante trajeron enormes cantidades de comida a nuestra mesa y muchos porrones con vino. Teníamos que aprender a verter el vino para apuntar a la boca en lugar de a la ropa. Fue una experiencia muy divertida y todos se rieron mientras tratábamos de dominar los porrones.

Quijotes3 El primer plato era los calçots que son como una cebolla a la parilla y son delicioso. El próximo plato era un plato grande de carne que incluye cordero, varios tipos de embutidos y carne de res. Nuestro postre era la famosa crema catalana hecha con yema de huevo, leche y azúcar. Todos estábamos llenos al final de la comida y listo para ir a casa a dormir una siesta. ¡Fue una experiencia magnifica en Barcelona!


El sur de España: Sevilla, Córdoba y Granada

Name: Lena
CIEE Barcelona Program:
Architecture & Design
Spring 2014
Home School
: University of Colorado Boulder

 Southern Spain was absolutely gorgeous. I traveled to Seville on Friday, Cordova on Saturday, a modern section of Seville on Sunday morning, and Granada until Monday. 


After we dropped our bags off at Fernando III (our hotel) we met up with a Guardian angel from CIEE, Seville. She showed us around a few sites including the Seville CIEE study center, Placa España, the University of Seville, and a walking tour of the city.

Lena1Seville used to be the capital of Spain, way back when. Catedral de Sevilla was enormous; in fact it is the third largest in the world! We climbed to the top of the bell tower and were welcomed with a breathtaking, 360-degree view of the city. Christopher Columbus's tomb is there, so neat! His burial place is located in this cathedral because he sailed from Seville in 1492! Lenanew
Lena3Outside here the building was lined with horse and chariots. There were horses all around the city, it was so cool.


Probably the most impressive thing to see here was Placa España. There were canals running around a semicircle of walkways filled with columns. This building was extremely colorful. I loved it!



Early Saturday morning we took a 1.5 hour bus ride to Cordoba, east of Seville. This city was very prosperous during the Middle Ages and was at one point the largest city in the world!  We saw the Córdoba Mezquita in which encompassed Catedral de Córdoba —a famous mosque, absolutely incredible. The mosque was very well preserved with the addition of a cathedral inside! There were 1000 columns in the mosque originally, where as the cathedral knocked down 150. Surprisingly, with the Catholics help, the mosque was in close to perfect condition. Unfortunately we had a tour guide that rushed us through the entire thing, but I made sure to take some good shots-of course!

  Lena-6Afterwards we saw a synagogue and had lunch. We made sure to get some typical dishes from Cordoba, such as a battered eggplant with honey- Berenjena Con Miel. I feel very fortunate to go to Cordoba. I feel like it is a city in which I would have never visited if CIEE did not take me. I am so happy I went!

On the way back to Seville we stopped by Madinat al-Zahra, a modern archeology study and museum. After exploring the building and its artifacts we took a bus to another site in which had mosques that were built a few hundred years after the ones in Cordoba. In contrast, these were not preserved at all! Lena16
At 6 o’clock we took a bus back to Seville. Next on our agenda was watching a flamenco show. It was absolutely incredible. The dancers feet moved so fast as if they were vibrating!Lena8

I finished my day with my friends eating some tapas, some of the best I have had! Southern Spain is known for their goat cheese. This only made me more excited for the tapas in Granada!


The following morning we had a Contemporary architecture tour of Seville. We saw this super modern sculpture/building that looked like a giant waffle! Its purpose was to hold and display roman ruins on the bottom floor and if you took an elevator up you were able to walk over the sculpture, with a view of the city and cathedral especially. This building was super curved, which I loved, of course!!! Lena9On Sunday afternoon, 5 of my classmates from the architecture and design program joined me on a trip to Granada. Sadly we had backtracked from being in Cordova the day before. This city was a 3-hour bus ride northeast. The bus was super easy to find!

Our hostel there was really cool, hostel Vita. The gentleman working the front desk was really nice and took us to a great tapas place. In Granada every drink you buy you receive a tapa, ranging from 1.5-2 euro, a great deal! The idea of a drink with food came from King Alfonso X (the name of my metro stop!) He made a law that with every drink a person would buy at a restaurant they would receive food. Granada keeps this tradition, which I absolutely loved! The drink of southern Spain is called Tinto de Verano -a mix of fizzy water with wine. This is the drink of the south in oppose of Kalimotxo where they mix coke with wine (gross)!

We went back early to our hostel in order to get a good nights rest before the Alhambra.


The Alhambra. I was so excited for this, I have learned about it countless times since freshman year in my architecture classes! My friend and I had tickets to the palace at 2. God was it amazing! The details on the walls are absolutely remarkable. When I got to the fountain of lions I literally started crying. I just could not believe I was there!!!!Lena10Throughout the palace and Alhambra site there were breathtaking views of the city. All of the houses were white stucco with tiled roofs. It made me really feel like I was in Spain! After the palace my friend and I enjoyed exploring the gardens. The coolest thing we had witnessed was the water stairway; the way in which they moved water around the site was incredible. The gardens were spectacular.Lena11Afterwards, around 6, my friend Meg and I went to the Catedral de Granada. This is the most unique cathedral I have seen yet. Everything in there was white! I would imagine it was to match the city.Lena12

Subsequently we met up with our other classmates and went on a quest to see the caves with gypsies in them--in the mountains. Unfortunately we did not find the caves but we were welcomed with more breathtaking views, especially during sunset. It was cool exploring the neighborhoods.


When we were finished with this adventure we were starving and went to go get tapas, of course! We went to Babel in which it was all our outright favorite; it had 20 options of tapas to choose from, in oppose to the night before where there was an assigned tapa for the drink you got.  The food here was absolutely amazing and such big portions! 

All in all this was by far the best weekend of my life, especially considering my major. Spain has so much to offer!


Park Güell

Name: Martine
CIEE Barcelona Program:
Language & Culture
Spring 2014
Home School
: University of Colorado Boulder

Going to Parque Güell was one of my favorite times in Barcelona.


I had only been in Barcelona for a week and was still trying to make sense of everything. Although I had met some people in my program I had not had the time to get to know everyone. After our orientation activities were over we had some free time to relax and acquaint ourselves before we started school.


On one of our days off, someone in my program suggested that we all go to Parque Güell.  We arrived around five and had about an hour before the sun was going to set. It was the perfect time of day to be there. The color of the sky was a fusion of blues and pinks. The sky created a dreamlike background for the stunning architecture of the park.


Aside from the breathtaking scenery, the visit to Parque Güell allowed our group to get to know each other in more casual terms. Every other setting we had been in so far had been organized by CIEE and therefore we were busy with different events for orientation week. It was nice to laugh and get to know one another in such a beautiful park. Everyone was enjoying him or herself and exploring the park.


Afterwards we all decided to get a quick bite to eat at a cute restaurant by the park and then head home. It was fun to talk to everyone at dinner because we were all from different parts of the country yet we were all studying in Barcelona. Since then I have continued to make friends with people from all over the world and it has been my favorite part about being abroad.


Architecture & Design, Spring 2014, Issue II


After two months in Barcelona, it starts to appear as though there is not enough time to do everything we wanted. Both students and professors keep active in different ways. For the students, aside from their midterm exams and projects, there has been the chance to explore and experience the city and the country, and professors keep getting involved in their academic fields. Here there are some examples:


Lena, a third year architecture student from University of Colorado Boulder, has been inspired by the unique forms of architecture that Barcelona offers. In her words, “I am known to have some of the wildest ideas.” For the first Studio Project, which was to design “An ordinary Building,” Lena incorporated the curved lines, light and natural inspirations of Gaudí's architecture from the Casa Milà into her design of a modern apartment building. To update the building she added large terraces and curtain walls. We can't wait to see what she comes up with for her second project! See more about Lena's project here.



Students in the AD Program know what study abroad means... and aside from studying, they try to take advantage of the strategic emplacement of Barcelona to be able to explore. Due to its diverse connections by plane, train or bus, it is easy and affordable travel both without Europe and Spain.

This semester, two of our students: Johan, from Carnegie Melon, and Connor, from University Colorado Boulder took this opportunity to visit other cities in the Mediterranean coast and they were surprised by how different and complex a country like Spain can be!

Johan1Johan in Valencia. at the top of Torres de Quart, enjoying the sunny view with his mother

Johan said that “before arriving to Spain, I had no idea how divided and different the 'autonomous regions`in the country are.” He visited Valencia, where he enjoyed the architectural focal points of the city, like the historic casco Viejo, which is impressive with the original forts still standing that protected the old city” and the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, designed by Calatrava. He also noticed the cultural differences between regions are not only seen through the history and architecture, but in the small things, “like workers at the stores going out of their way to have conversation.”

Photo 2View of the Mediterranean Sea from the Castillo de Santa Bárbara, in Alicante

 Connor, on the other hand, travelled a little bit farther, visiting the southern part of the Mediterranean coast: Murcia and Alicante. He had a friend from high school who was originally from Murcia and he thought it would be a cool trip to take and experience another Spanish city. Helped by the CIEE Cultural Activities department, Connor managed to plan a quick and inexpensive trip. After he experienced the spectacular routes going down the coast, he spent 4 days in his family’s house in Murcia and even had time to visit Alicante where he ventured “around its streets stopping for pinchos and cañas at some great restaurants. And we hiked up the Castillo de Santa Barbara, which was the highlight of the trip.”


Rafael Gómez Moriana, during his talk (picture by Danny Wicaksono)

In the lasts months, two of the AD Program professors, Rafael Gómez-Moriana and Judith Urbano took part in conferences. First, Rafael Gómez-Moriana participated in the “Critical Juncture: the Work of Joseph Rykwert, critic and historian”, conference curated by Trevor Boddy (CICA), which took place in the Architectural Association School of Architecture, in London. Rafael Gómez-Moriana, among others: Michael Sorkin, Rowan Moore, or Danny Wicaksono, gave a talk, called “Criticism 2.0: Nobody likes a critic when everyone's a critic,” in which he analyzed how the new digital media (blogs, social networks, etc.) are changing the architectural discourse, a topic he knows deeply due to his regular collaborations in Architecture Journals and his more than interesting and accurate commentaries in his own blog:

Picture taken during J. Urbano’s conference.

Judith Urbano, PhD, led a conference about her most recent book “Eclecticism and Architecture. August Font i Carreras (1845-1924)", based in her PhD thesis. During the conference, which took place in the historical building housing MUHBA, Judith covered the life and work of this architect, whose main artworks are still interesting and meaningful for the city... such as the neogothic façade of Barcelona Cathedral, the Palau de les Heures or the original Arenas bullring, which has recently been turned into a controversial mall.

Current aspect of the neogothic façade of the Cathedral and Arenas bullring

Liberal Arts, Spring 2014, Issue II


IMG_2801Service Learning Project

“Why do you eat turkey at Thanksgiving?” asked a 10 year old boy during a presentation by Amelia, from Barnard College, on the American festivity. Amelia explained that there were a lot of wild turkeys in America so they ate the animals that were available. Amelia and six other students participated in a service learning project in an elementary school, Escola Collserola, with children from 3 to 12 years old.  Sarah, of University of Colorado Boulder, read the story The Big Enormous Turnip  to the 3 years old kids. “You missed my picture with all the kids hugging me” Laura from University of Minnesota Twin Cities, told me after she read The Wheels on the Bus story to first graders who also sang the song and drew their own busses.

LA Service LearningSarah, University of Colorado; Alisha, Brandeis Unviersity; Makenzie, University of Colorado, and Amelia, Barnard College at English Day in Collserola school.

The service learning project is part of the CIEE Advanced Grammar, Composition and Conversation II class, and after volunteering the students interviewed the school principal and the Academic Committee to learn about the educational system and compare it to the US. After the event we had an in class discussion about it and it and will base some composition and a cultural oral presentation assignments around the visit. This project is also part of the intercultural competence component that we are using to enhance our CIEE classes.

LA Service Learning-001Erika, University of Wisconsin Madison and various photos of the students at the Collserola School.

L'escola Collserola millora el seu anglès amb universitaris nord-americans - Mozilla Firefox 12032014 110416.bmp

The visit even made the local newspaper! You can see the article “Collserola School Improves Its English With American Students” here: “

Phonetics Laboratory

Students in the Spanish Linguistics class visited the Phonetics Laboratory at the Universidad de Barcelona.  They learned how different sounds are made and they practiced with the lab's software that analyzes sounds. Students recorded their Spanish and compared it to the sounds produced by native speakers. They also found out about the work the phonetics laboratory does with speech therapy and forensics.



Weekend trip to Madrid and Toledo

This semester we visited Madrid and Toledo for our weekend trip. Students toured the Madrid of the Habsburgs, downtown Toledo and were able to admire some of the most important paintings in the art history such as Guernica by Picasso, Las Meninas by Velázquez or El Entierro del Conde Orgaz by el Greco.  They also enjoyed taking pictures with a matador in Plaza Mayor and dipping a churro in a hot chocolate in the  famous Chocolatería San Ginés.LA MadridYou can read more about the food in Spain in Christina’s, from Colby College, blog post:



Inspired by Barcelona's architecture

Name: Lena
CIEE Barcelona Program:
Architecture & Design
Spring 2014
Home School
: University of Colorado Boulder

At the end of the 19th century, the architects of Europe were stuck on what to do next. They started using old architecture, creating 'neo'gothic 'neo'romanesque. Antoni Gaudi was one of the first to "step out of the box." He was a fantastic modernisme architect--his head was flooded with the most creative thoughts. One of the characteristics of his architecture was nature; he also had a lot of curves within his buildings.


I am a third year architecture student, studying in Barcelona of spring, 2014. In my studios, I am known to have some of the wildest ideas. Being in Barcelona has influenced me to play with some of Gaudi's ideas. The first project assigned to us was to create and "ordinary building"-- an apartment building in Barcelona with one parti-wall and a green space within the block.


Of course I wanted to create something that was not so ordinary. I decided to work curves and nature characteristics into my building, with Gaudi’s ideas in mind. I created a large courtyard in the center for light, inspired by Casa Mila.

ModelMy apartment was very high end, and took a modern twist of Casa Mila, with my additions of large terraces and curtain walls. Barcelona has numerous types of architecture that has inspired me in countless ways. I could have not chosen a better place! I love it here and I can't wait to see what I come up with for my second project!



Comfort Food

Name: Crissy
CIEE Barcelona Program:
Liberal Arts
Spring 2014
Home School
: Colby College

Me encanta la comida y siempre ha jugado un papel muy importante en mi vida. En los Estados Unidos cocinar y la comida me hacen pensar en pasar tiempo con mi familia y con mis mejores amigos, y siempre me produce una sensación de felicidad y un tipo especial de cariño, que sólo existe cuando estoy rodeada de mis personas favoritas y de algunos platos deliciosos.

Durante mi tiempo aquí en Barcelona, y en Europa por lo general, he tenido muchas ocasiones de continuar persiguiendo mis intereses en la esfera de la comida. Sin duda, Barcelona es una ciudad perfecta para los sibaritas de la cocina (“foodies”), porque está llena de restaurantes de cualquier tipo de comida, pastelerías, y mercados (como la famosa Boquería y el precioso mercado de Santa Caterina).

Con CIEE he tenido la oportunidad de participar en algunos talleres muy divertidos de cocina, incluyendo una clase de Cook and Taste y un taller de cómo hornear el pan. Además, a finales de marzo haré una clase sobre cómo preparar el chocolate. En la clase de Cook and Taste aprendimos a cocinar un menú español con una sopa de tomate fría, tortilla española, pan con tomate (pa amb tomàquet, en catalán), paella valenciana y crema catalana. ¡Qué rico! Tengo muchas ganas de intentar recrear estas recetas con mi familia en los Estados Unidos porque a ellos les encanta la comida española.

Sin título-1

Pero a lo mejor lo más importante es probar tantas comidas nuevas como sea posible durante este semestre. Durante los últimos dos meses he decidido comer cualquier comida que encuentro, incluyendo varios pescados con sus cabezas y espinas todavía intactas cuando llegan a la mesa. Confía en tu cocinero y pruébalo todo, ¡la comida siempre va a sorprenderte!

Aquí hay una lista con algunas de las exquisiteces que simplemente tienes que degustar durante un viaje a Barcelona: 

  • Mariscos frescos (de cualquier tipo)
  • Pan con tomate (¡Claro!)
  • Xurros amb xocolata (churros con chocolate, en castellano) en la calle de Petritxol en el Barrio Gótico o Sugiero que pruebes un suizo con churros, ¡es tan rico!
  • Cruasán de la pastelería Hoffman en el barrio del Born (mi favorito está relleno de frambuesas)

Sin título-2

¡Buen provecho!


Economics & Culture, Spring 2014, Issue II


Andalucía:  Old and New

I had been several times already to Andalucía, but was still very impressed again by its well-known charm and warmth, by its delicious food offering and of course by the numerous and amazing monuments that are spread out throughout this region of Spain.  In fact, I was so pleased to be able to visit with our students a relatively new monument, locally designated as the “mushroom”, which allows for a spectacular view of Seville´s historic buildings.  Usually the best time to make a visit would be in the early evening, so that the sunset could be seen.  However, given that it had been cloudy and rainy for the most of that weekend when we were there, we decided to go later that evening, and was able to see another beautiful view, one of the city beautifully lit up at night.  It had been wonderful trip overall with an engaging and respectful group of students!
Contribution by Quynh Phan, RD for Economics and Culture Program

  El Mirador

Open Patio

Takes on Seville and Córdoba

Normally, I would dread a 6:00 am wake up call, but when my alarm went off this past Friday morning I jumped right out a bed. With my bags already packed and my outfit picked out, I was ready for my weekend adventure to begin. My roommate and I headed to Plaza Espanya—a small breakfast in hand courtesy of our wonderful host mom—to catch the bus to the airport where we would meet the rest of the group for our flight to Seville. A few hours later we had landed on Andalucían ground. The weather was absolutely perfect—60 degrees and sunny! After dropping our belongings off at the airport we headed out to explore the city.  The streets were lined with orange trees and colorful building. We ate amazing tapas and took plenty of photos as we made our way to the river where we were welcomed with beautiful views of the city. Seville’s beauty continued to amaze us as we had a guided tour of the famous Cathedral and the old Jewish neighborhood. Oh, and who could forget the spectacular Flamenco show that had us all attempting to imitate the moves for the remainder of the weekend!

            On Saturday morning, we made our way to Cordoba by bus for a guided tour of the Mosque and Jewish neighborhood. Despite the horrible rainy and windy weather, we made the best of our time in Cordoba. The architecture inside the Mosque was absolutely incredible, and the tiny winding roads of the Jewish neighborhood were picturesque, lined with cute local shops and decorated with colorful flowerpots. After a nice nap on the bus back to Seville, we were ready for the next activity of the weekend: beautiful nighttime views of the city from the top of El Mirador followed by yet another round of delicious tapas.

            Sunday morning came upon us quickly. With only a few hours left before we would embark on our journey back to Barcelona, we made our way to the Royal Alcazar Garden. Even in the pouring rain the gardens and royal palace were beautiful. The rain wasn’t going to stop us from making the most of our weekend in Seville!
Contribution by Meaghan, Elon University


Sevilla sidewalk

 Impressions from a Professor

Helena, a CIEE Spanish teacher for students with no or very little Spanish proficiency, accompanied the EC students during their weekend trip to Andalucía and had summarized her experience with these words: “To share with these students the experience of travelling to another city in Spain, to be outside of the usual context of the classroom, was extremely beneficial for me as I could see up close their process of trying to practice their language skills and their attempt to integrate in the local culture.  In addition, this experience made me reflect on the language difficulties that these students encounter when trying to speak, to comprehend the Spanish that is spoken in the south of Spain, which can be much faster and with many of the syllables not being pronounced at all. It is not surprising that in the classroom setting at CIEE, these students feel very comfortable and confident about their skills, but here during the trip a few of them experienced some minor degree of frustration at times when they questioned themselves if they had improved at all their Spanish at all since arriving a few months ago.  I encouraged them of course and reminded them of that gaining proficiency is not a straight and smooth path, and that even at times when they feel that they worse that before, they actually are improving.  I enjoyed tremendously this trip as it also brought me closer to the students, gaining their confidence.  Overall, I would recommend this type of interaction with students to all of my colleagues."
Contribution by Helena, CIEE Spanish Teacher

Helena and Guide

Helena and Students ll