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7 posts from April 2014


Global Architecture and Design Newsletter, Spring 2014, Issue II



The three Global AD programs (Barcelona, Berlin, Prague) had a Summit in Berlin in late March. The Summit was lead by the program Academic Director Maria Aiolova, and it was attended by students, faculty and administration from all three sites. Among other things, students from each city presented their work to the rest; they explored Berlin in teams in order to discover the city’s past, present and future; and they participated in a Symposium about Speculative Praxis at the Deutsches Archtiektur Zentrum (DAZ):

"Speculative practice focuses on the act of invention today in order to have an impact in thefuture. Scientists always begin their investigation by pure speculation that is often not expected to materialize in ten, fifty or even a hundred years. Design is not simply a creative process; it is also another form of a focused scientific endeavor. Like science, design is experimental, but in a way that prominently recognizes invention. Speculative practices attempt to establish new forms of knowledge at the confluences of design and science activity".



Studio instructor Antonio Sanmartín and several of the Global AD students took a bike tour through the Barcelona coastline. This area has undergone significant change as a result of urban planning set into place for the Olympics in 92. The tour started in the Olympic Village and finished at the Besòs river, the area that the students are using as the basis for their projects. The group not only enjoyed a fun afternoon in the city but visited interesting architectural structures such as the Forum, Diagonal Mar Parc, the Olympic Village and other more unknown areas like Can Casacuberta or Escola La Llauna.




Students have been progressing with the production and development of their “Besòs River Transcription Prototypes”. A review session took place on March 4th where Barcelona-based architects Judith LeClerc, Oriol Carrasco and Berta Cusó  accompanied course faculty Javier Peña and Antonio Sanmartín as jury critics. Students had created five models that will settle the basis for their work to be developed during the second part of the semester: the Future Speculative Master Plan for the final section of  the Besòs River.



Advanced Liberal Arts Newsletter, Spring 2014, Issue II



We have just passed the midterm mark for the CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts program at the Universitat de Barcelona and our students are heading into the Easter holidays where they will be exploring not only different corners of Spain, but also Europe: Paris, Dublin, Rome, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Prague... all of which are a short flight from Barcelona. This spring break is a great time to explore the contenent and relax after their midterm exams.

This holiday is also a great time for receiving visitors and many students have family & friends from the States coming to Barcelona. Hosting friends is a moment when the participants of the program suddenly realize how well they know the city and how well they speak the language in different circumstances. It is quite common that our students, after receiving guests, comment that by playing tour guide they felt definitive proof that they are no longer tourists themselves but citizens of Barcelona. ALA Bilbao y SBut before this very deserved break coming up in a few days, we have been organizing and enjoying different cultural activities, such as the weekend trip to the Basque Country, where our students not only had the chance to visit San Sebastian and Bilbao, see the Yoko Ono  exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum, but also to take a tapas and pintxos cooking class. We will not make any comments about the success of this activity. You can see how much they enjoyed it in the photos:

Sin título-1ALAAnd as a perfect farewell to the first half of the term, we are going to attend this week a major theatrical production that has been getting a lot of acclaim this season in Barcelona: the play “El caballero de Olmedo” by Lope de Vega, a Spanish playwright and poet, and one of the key figures in the Spanish Golden Century Baroque literature:

Amor, no te llame amor / el que no te corresponde, / pues que no hay materia adonde / no imprima forma el favor. / Naturaleza, en rigor, / conservó tantas edades / correspondiendo amistades; / que no hay animal perfeto / si no asiste a su conceto / la unión de dos voluntades. / De los espíritus vivos / de unos ojos procedió / este amor, que me encendió / con fuegos tan excesivos. / No me miraron altivos, / antes, con dulce mudanza, / me dieron tal confïanza, / que, con poca diferencia, / pensando correspondencia, / engendra amor esperanza. / Ojos, si ha quedado en vos / de la vista el mismo efeto, / amor vivirá perfeto, /pues fue engendrado de dos; / pero si tú, ciego dios, / diversas flechas tomaste, / no te alabes que alcanzaste / la victoria que perdiste / si de mí solo naciste, / pues imperfeto quedaste.3


Economics & Culture, Spring 2014, Issue III

NewsletterbannerBeing Vegetarian in Barcelona

Despite the abundant amounts of jamón everywhere in Barcelona, I did not find it challenging at all to be a vegetarian living here. I do, however, eat seafood so that made it significantly easier considering the fact that there is a ton of really great seafood. Even if I didn’t eat seafood I wouldn’t have had a problem being well-fed. There are plenty of amazing vegetarian tapas, my favorites being patatas bravas and tortilla de patata (shocking, I know) and in other restaurants there is almost always a couple vegetarian options on the menus.

Everyone was really accommodating and a couple experiences stood out to me. One was when we took the cooking class. The class made a large chicken paella for everyone to share and the teacher had me make my own separate vegetable one. I live in a residencia so I cook for myself but the one night I ate dinner with a host family, the mother made me my own separate vegetarian dish and was so nice about it and I really appreciated it. Barcelona also has a lot of specifically vegetarian and vegan restaurants that I was excited to try. My favorite has to be Gopal in the gothic quarter. It is a small deli with sandwiches, salads, and a variety of veggie burgers. Despite the number of great restaurants that I’ve tried, the one I go back to at least once a week for lunch is the Dada Café (picture of some of their dishes below) because it is right near CIEE. Although not exclusively vegetarian, they have a ton of amazing quiches and salads.

Contributor:  Anna, EC Student from University of Wisconsin, Madison

Security Service in Catalunya

With the invitation from the American Consulate in Barcelona, in conjunction with the local government authorities, CIEE and other study abroad providers attended a presentation that informed us of the important security unit for the region of Catalunya called CECAT.  We were impressed on how this entity is organized and of its role to step in when crucial events, such as natural disasters, large displacement of people, etc., would occur.  One of their key responsibilities is to facilitate for example the most updated statistics and information to the local area police, fire units, and hospitals so that these entities in turn can strategized on how to disperse their resources most effectively to assist those in need.  After CECAT´s explanation, we were able to visit in person their on-site calling center as well as their mobile assistance unit (picture attached.)  Overall, we were impressed with CECAT and sensed that we would be able to count on their expertise in case of a severe crisis.

Contributor:  Quynh, RD for the EC Program



Special Dinner Invitation

On March 17th, I alongside three other CIEE Economics + Culture students attended a dinner at the Llebot household in Gracia. Not only was I excited for the typical escalivadas and rich mar y montañas dish, but also to meet another Spanish, I mean Catalan family in Barcelona, Spain. I say Catalan because Esperanza Llebot and her two daughters are Barça fanatics sporting banners, scarves, pajama sets, socks, and other FCB paraphernalia. As they mentioned over dinner, Barça isn’t solely a football club, it is “més que un club,” it is living your life along party lines and playing light hearted pranks against Real Madrid neighbors. Their enthusiasm surrounding the culture of FCB exuded an enormous amount of pride over their city and heritage.

The three Llebot women and the two CIEE Liberal Arts exchange students welcomed us with open arms for Esperanza’s “25th” birthday. Having the desire to open up your home and share a special day with four strangers was touching and somewhat unfamiliar. This resonated with me and despite having travelled to over 30 countries; I am still surprised by their hospitality and interest into our backgrounds, studies and opinions regarding the Spanish education system. I believe I can speak for the other Economics students who attended the dinner when I say that Esperanza and her daughters were beyond warm and inviting – so much so that we were invited to return to watch a Barça game over the typical Catalan dish of pizza.

Contributor:  Ali, EC Student from Barnard College



Liberal Arts, Spring 2014, Issue III


Our semester is coming to an end. The students have enjoyed their stay in Barcelona and we hope that they have gained intercultural knowledge after spending four months living in a different culture. We wish them a safe return home and many trips back to Barcelona in the future! Here you have some of the latest activities we've been doing with them:

Chocolate creations for Easter

One of our delicious traditions in Catalonia is the “mona” a chocolate cake creation that godparents give to their godchildren for easter. Nowadays, the cake is made into many different chocolate sculptures... from SpongeBob Squarepants, Disney characters and Justin Beiber to Barça football players. Chocolate makers display their "monas" in the windows of their shop during the Easter week and try to outshine each other with sheer creativity and inventiveness. Our students participated in a Chocolate Workshop at the Chocolate Museum of Barcelona where they made chocolate lollipops. They demonstrated their high creativity and were able to eat all the chocolate they wanted! After that, they visited the museum and were able to admire all the giant monas such as a representation of Guernica by Picasso, or la Sagrada Familia.

Actualizado recientemente

LA Museo chocolate

Language Assessment

Starting last semester we have incorporated a new method of assessing students' language progress during their study abroad experience. They take a Spanish placement test before coming and another one a week before leaving. The results should be able to give us a better understanding of students' language outcomes.

Watching a Barça-Madrid game with locals

Club Quijotes students went to local bars around the city to watch the most important Spanish football game of the season: “El Clásico” between Barcelona and Madrid teams. The idea is to experience the game along with Spaniards in a local environment. Caitlin from University of Iowa said: “I loved to see the football culture in a bar during a game. Go Barça!!"

LA partido Barça-MadridHost family ties

One of the most enriching experiences while abroad is to live with a host family. Bridget from University of Iowa was shocked when her host family prepared a special birthday dinner for her. She wrote for our blog: “When I saw everything they did for me I thought, my host family really has become my family in Barcelona. Despite being far from my home, I realized their house is a place where I can be in good company and enjoy life with these people that I can call my family.” You can read about her special day here: Mi Feliz Cumpleaños.


¡Mi Feliz Cumpleaños!

Name: Bridget
CIEE Barcelona Program:
 Liberal Arts
 Spring 2014
Home School
: University of Iowa

Las celebraciones de cumpleaños en mi familia siempre son una gran fiesta: pastel, globos, cenas, regalos, fiestas y tiempo con la familia y los amigos íntimos. Desde que era pequeña, nunca he celebrado un cumpleaños que no pasara con mi familia. Mi familia es pequeña, pero somos muy familiares y, por eso, los cumpleaños siempre han sido una gran parte de mi vida y de sus vidas. Al venir a España, mi cumpleaños iba a estar dentro de la primera semana de mi llegada y estaba triste porque no podría pasarlo con mi familia. Porque yo me crié en un hogar en el cual los cumpleaños son un acontecimiento familiar. Me entristeció saber que mi 21 cumpleaños no seria el cumpleaños más importante de todos. Antes incluso de que llegara mi cumpleaños, ya había decidido que iba a ser un día horrible porque iba a ser diferente a todos mis cumpleaños anteriores.

Birthday 1

Cuando llegó mi cumpleaños, estaba emocionada, pero triste por estar tan lejos de casa en mi día especial. Recibí muchas llamadas telefónicas y mensajes de texto de mi familia que me hicieron muy feliz, pero también triste al mismo tiempo ya que lo estaba celebrando en una nueva y gran ciudad donde casi no conocía a nadie. Conforme avanzaba el día, dejé de pensar sobre cuánto extrañaba mi casa y estaba lista para que el día acabara. Mi madre anfitriona me había ofrecido invitar a unos amigos para mi cena de cumpleaños, cosa que fue un lindo gesto y con el que intenté mantenerme positiva durante el día. Empecé a pensar: “!Tal vez no será tan malo después de todo!”

Una vez llegué a casa, después de un largo día de clase, entré en el apartamento y nos saludamos inmediatamente con abrazos con mi hermana anfitriona. Miré a mi alrededor y vi la mesa de la cena tan bonita, mi mama anfitriona estaba cocinando en la cocina, y mi compañera Caitlin estaba sentada en la mesa. Yo estaba en estado de shock y no me podía creer todo el trabajo duro que estaban haciendo por mi. Entonces se me ocurrió. Actualmente estoy estudiando en el extranjero, y pensé que mi familia de acogida podía llegar a ser mi familia de Barcelona. A pesar de estar fuera de casa, me di cuenta de que su casa es un lugar donde puedo estar en buena compañía y disfrutar de la vida con estas personas a las que puedo llamar mi familia. Me cayeron hasta las lágrimas y me reí un poco cuando vi todo lo que habían hecho por mí. En ese momento, se produjo un cambio en mi que no esperaba.

Una vez que mis nuevos amigos llegaron, nos sentamos todos alrededor de la mesa para comer una cena deliciosa y me pusieron a la cabeza de la mesa. Mi madre anfitriona comenzó pasando alrededor con un increíble plato de paella y yo me quedé asombrada de cómo era de deliciosa la comida. Estaba tan excitada de que ella hubiera hecho una cena especial de la cultura española para mí! Nos sentamos todos alrededor de la mesa y disfrutamos de la buena comida y la buena compañía por un rato y, a continuación, trajeron un postre de helado con la luz de las velas. Mi hermana anfitriona Gala comenzó con la canción de "Feliz Cumpleaños" y toda la mesa, me cantó con una sonrisa. No me podía creer que la gente que tenia alrededor hubiera preparado para la celebración tan especial para hacer que me sintiera como en casa. Gala me hizo una tarjeta bonita con divertidos dibujos, mi madre anfitriona me dio unas flores, y una manta para hacerme sentir más como en casa. A pesar de que estuve fuera de mi casa en ese momento, me di cuenta de que estaba creando un nuevo hogar al mismo tiempo. 



Business & Culture, Spring 2014, Issue III


We are so lucky to have this city at our fingertips, and there are infinite ways that the city becomes a classroom for our students. During the first days of arrival they use it to learn orienteering skills as they navigate without the use of smartphones (for many this is a real challenge and learning experience!). Throughout the semester the city is the backdrop for their classes related to art, history and culture. They practice the Spanish skills picked up in the classroom with new local friends, in restaurants and in their homestay. Even free time is time for learning as the city engages them in new and interesting ways. Here are some of the ways we’ve recently incorporated the city in the learning process. BC Class Trips BC Class Trips-001


Moritz is a brand of beer tightly tied to the image of Barcelona. The brand was founded by Louis Moritz in 1856, when he was only 25 years old. The beer was initially brewed in a small factory in Raval neighborhood, but in 1864 moved to a larger brewery in what at the time was outside the city walls on Ronda de Sant Antoni. This factory was in use for a century and was closed in 1966 when production was moved again to a larger facility, but the old site on Ronda Sant Antoni has recently been renovated by architect Jean Nouvel and now houses the company's offices, a beer museum, a small showcase brewery, and a tasting bar. Moritz’s beers are exported to over 40 countries worldwide.

Throughout the semester CIEE Business students learn a lot about the idea of a city’s brand. Moritz and its rival Estrella Damm both latch on to the image of “Barcelona” when marketing their beers internationally. Estrella often sponsors sporting events and local festivals, while Moritz is known as sponsoring local culture like independent film and music festivals.

Last week we took 30 business students on a tour of the newly renovated Fabrica Moritz so that they could experience firsthand this tie between the city and its products.


Another thing that certainly defines Barcelona to the outside world is soccer, particularly Futbol Club Barcelona, known as Barça. While there are other local teams, none have captured the international fame and recognition of Barça. In recent years the club’s popularity has rocketed due to the team’s high scoring forward, Lionel Messi.

     At 26 years old Messi has shown his talent time and time again. According to his Wikipedia page he is “commonly ranked as the best player in the world and rated by some commentators, coaches and players as the greatest footballer of all time. Messi is the first football player in history to win four FIFA/Ballons d'Or, all of which he won consecutively, as well as the first to win three European Golden Shoe awards. With Barcelona, Messi has won six La Ligas, two Copas del Rey, five Supercopas de España, three UEFA Champions Leagues, two UEFA Super Cups and two Club World Cups.”

  The clubs motto is “mes que un club” (catalan for “more than a club”) which is absolutely true. The club has come to represent much more for the local people and is deeply tied to the independence movement and to Catalan identity. The experience of going to the stadium for an important game is not only a chance to watch a sport but to see political movements, chants and thousands of Catalan flags.
BC Camp Nou


Language & Culture, Spring 2014, Issue III

Newsletterbanner Museo Historia CatalunyaLiving, loving and leaving Barcelona

As Azar Nafisi wrote: “You get a strange feeling when you are about the leave a place, like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.”

By learning, travelling, sharing, LC students have gone through a transformative process: during the semester they not only discovered the Spanish language and culture, but moreover they discovered themselves.

Classes have been an extraordinary opportunity to fulfill curiosity and explore personal interests, thanks to our unconventional classroom: Barcelona itself, with its history and specific identity. Students have constantly challenged themselves to go beyond superficial interpretation, by creating new itineraries and opening new perspectives.

For the Catalonia and Spain through the Arts class, for instance, after a walking tour with the instructor, each student designed a non-traditional walking tour in order to promote Modernista heritage on Passeig de Gràcia. This famous avenue displays a large number of Modernista buildings of great architectural value, such as Casa Battló by Antoni Gaudí, Casa Amatller by Josep Puig I Cadafalch and Casa Lleó Morera by Lluis Domènech I Montaner, all located in the so called Manzana de la Discordia (Block of Discord), a tribute to the Greek legend related to the starting of the Trojan war. Assignment also included drawing a poster for advertising the tour, confirming our students’ creativity:

LC ClassesPosters designed by Hannah, Martine and Helen from University of Colorado Boulder

Students enrolled in our Spain Today: Politics and Society class also participated in a number of meaningful activities, such as the visit to the hill of Montjuïc, the perfect place to analyze the city’s evolution. Montjuic means “Jewish Mountain,” referring to the city’s crossroad of cultures and a time when the medieval jewish cemetary was located here. The castle at the top of the mountain was built in 1640. The 1929 International Exhibition and the 1992 Summer Olympics were held here, causing a series of changes and innovative urban solutions. A palace built for the international exhibition has been converted into the National Museum of Catalan Art (MNAC). The Modernista Casaramona Factory was also converted into an Art center in 1963. The Miro foundation is one of Barcelona's most visited museums. All are located on the hill with spectacular views of the city below.Visita MontjuicAnd now the semester is about the end: our students will bring home with them memories, experiences and new friends, photos of Barcelona and of the other European cities they visited, the smell of the streets and the flavor of the Mediterranean. And Spring 2014 LC students will also carry inside them the memories of "the person you are now at this time and this place."