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6 posts from November 2015




These weeks are going very well. We had some great time visiting Bilbao, San Sebastian and Berlin, we got plenty of new ideas working on the Studio projects at IaaC, and we definitely had lots of fun here in Barcelona!


Benson, from California Polytechnic State University, presented at a session during the CIEE conference in Berlin. The session was called “Increasing STEM mobility through study abroad in Europe: engineering, architecture and design”:

"I arrived at IAAC, excited to spend my time abroad and to develop personal skills. The courses seemed interesting: theory, digital tools, and studio. I wasn’t sure how much time the classes would take at IAAC, but I soon gained the perspective that they took the right amount of time. The work from all classes is pretty well integrated, which means that I don’t often spend time on trivial projects or busy-work. This makes for an intensely dedicated education system that I find rare and simultaneously appreciate. I can only attribute the quality of this program to the effort of my professors".

Back in Spain, students and faculty visited together Bilbao, San Sebastian. “At Bilbao, we took a personal tour around the city and learned about the city’s history of urban redevelopment along the waterfront. It was amazing to hear about locals’ change in perspective due to urban development. I also learned about the region’s history and about the Basque language, which is incredible to me, because it has no Latin-based roots. The most relaxing trip was probably the one to San Sebastian, because I walked along the waterfront there and hiked to the mountain. Many of my peers went out and ate pinchos, which are like small snack foods eaten between meals”.




Global AD students during some of the many activities during the Berlin Summit

“The last trip that I went to was Berlin and Berlin was a great trip, because the city was completely different from the European cities I had seen so far. The city’s layout was quite spread out and there was no clear center; however, I felt that the urban infrastructure was quite balanced and advanced. Although, there did seem to be a slightly higher reliance on personal vehicles. In Berlin, I had a Summit and met up with peers from different schools within the same CIEE Global Architecture and Design program across Europe (Prague and Berlin). This was a great experience, because as an architecture student I was able to compare educational experiences and learn from my peers’ educational experiences. Moreover, we had a great chance to join the lecture of Daniel Libeskind and even have one hour meeting with Daniel discussing all our questions regarding his work and architecture in general. I thought the trip was quite informative on both an academic level and an experiential level." 





The University of Barcelona (UB) is the host institution of the CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts (ALA) program. The UB is, above all, an urban university, outward-reaching and cosmopolitan just like the city where the campuses reside. And because of this, it plays a direct and active part in the urban fabric of Barcelona, becoming a hub of cultural activity for the city itself that our students take advantage of: music concerts, academic lectures or art expositions, are just some of the many resources that the UB offers to our students. The CIEE participants in the ALA program take direct enrollment courses with local students facing a new academic culture that sometimes needs time and necessary personal adjustments, but at the same time, it is a key factor to our students’ success at the end of their study abroad experience.

In this newsletter, I want to share with you the testimonial of Sarah and Maddie where they explain some of these difficulties and challenges, but also some of the rewards that they are already experiencing.

Warm regards from Barcelona!


Sarah, Indiana University

Studying abroad in the Advanced Liberal Arts program of CIEE in Barcelona, Spain has been the most rewarding experience of my life. I chose this program for the immersion opportunity it provides to integrate myself into the culture of the city and university lifestyle, but it has brought me so much more than that.

Barcelona offers all that you could want in a big city with a mix of gothic and modernist architecture, relaxing beaches, stunning mountain views, hidden parks, museums of every kind, and a rich history that leads to more chances for adventure everyday. I have realized that this environment is the perfect place to improve my Spanish fluency while living with a host family and taking classes at the University of Barcelona. Although tasks like finding my way around the city without a map, forcing myself to talk to local students, and comprehending 400-level Spanish lectures seemed impossible at first, now I have confidence to do them all. This program has helped me understand how to overcome any type of challenge, and because of that I have discovered more about myself than I ever thought possible. I have not only improved my Spanish speaking and comprehension, but have also opened my eyes to a new way of life and recognized the beauty in other cultures. It is safe to say that because of CIEE and the Advanced Liberal Arts program, I am now a stronger person, student, and Spanish speaker.


Maddie, Barnard College

When I first touched down in Barcelona, a bit travel-weary and nervous, I walked out into the terminal and found the large group of young people in neon orange shirts that I was searching for. These young people—our CIEE Guardian Angels are local, Spanish speaking students that join us CIEE students for various activities throughout the semester—introduced themselves, and I quickly felt at ease. After meeting them, my nervousness was dispelled, and I knew that it would be a great semester

After the two-week orientation that followed, my friends in the Advanced Liberal Arts Program and I began the process of choosing our classes at both CIEE and University of Barcelona. When I first laid eyes on the extensive course catalog that offered classes in Spanish on topics from economics to photography to poetry, I was a bit daunted by all of the choices I had laid out before me. However, yet again, CIEE knew what they were doing.  My advisers guided me through the process and helped me figure out an ideal schedule. Because of this help that CIEE provided, I have found a balance in a challenging, applicable course load full of Spanish language and culture that also allows for time to experience first hand this country that I am studying!

And CIEE certainly fosters this exploration outside the classroom as well. Two weekends ago, we took our CIEE organized weekend trip to Sevilla and Córdoba. As a group, we toured la Catedral de Sevilla, la Mezquita de Córdoba, and el Real Alcázar de Sevilla. At night, we attended a flamenco performance that blew us away with its combination of skill and emotion, and we were even left with free time to wander the crowded, lively streets of the cities. While on this trip, it amazed me how incredibly different the culture—both present and historical—of these two cities could be from that of Barcelona. With this trip, the program allowed us to see for ourselves the incredible cultural contrast that exists within Spain because of the varying historical influences in each of its regions.

Without these hands-on experiences that CIEE provides me with, subjects that I learn about in the classroom like the grandeur of Arabic architecture in Andalucía, the independence movement of Cataluña, or the ancient roman influence in Barcelona would remain abstract concepts for me. However, through the stellar classes, mentors, field trips, day excursions, and trips that CIEE has integrated into my study abroad program, I am now able to see, learn, and experience everything for myself.




Five Students, Five words

We’ve asked our five architecture and design students to reflect on their experience and their learning process in Barcelona and to define it in just in one word: challenge, self-discovery, adventure, experiential, and expression are the words that have come up. Please watch this short video where Britnee (University of Colorado Boulder), Kristin (Howard University), Jill and Hannah (Tulane University) and Katharine (Wellesley College) explain the reasons for their choice! 




Visual Essay Assignment

One of the most important aspects for the art knowledge is observation and visual relation skills. The camera is a usual tool for the art historians to comprehend, document and explain. In order to reach this goal, students must do a continuous work during the field trips to elaborate and post, afterwards, three visual essays. This is what Grant from Vanderbilt University did: “Each note of European currency reflects a different art style of though history. Barcelona hosts a multitude of architectural exemplars for each of these art styles. The pictures feature a Barcelona building in addition to the corresponding Euro note.”

Abby from Cornell University title her assignment “Looking through the glass” as she captured glass work and reflections in Barcelona buildings.



Game of Thrones scenarios

LC students enjoyed the weekend trip to Sevilla and Córdoba. In Sevilla we visited the cathedral with its famous mudejar tower, La Giralda, we toured the old Jewish center, Santa Cruz neighborhood, and the Reales Alcázares (Royal Palaces), the scenario of the Water Gardens of Dorne, in Game of Thrones! In Córdoba, apart from visiting  the Mosque-Cathedral and the old town, students got to enjoy the local traditional tapas: flamenquín, salmorejo and fried eggplants with honey.

See the video about the trip

 The Block of the Discord

LC students at the CIEE course Past and Present in Barcelona had to choose four Modernista  buildings and make a comparison between them. They had to present a video and do an oral presentation in class. This is the project presented by Grant and Angelique from Elon University, Debora from Northeastern University and Abby from Cornell University about the Block of the Discord in Barcelona.



Swinging abroad and making local friends!


Paige from Univesity of Colorado Boulder is a swing dancer who didn´t want to stop dancing during her study abroad experience. This is what she did to meet local people to continue dancing and getting more immersed in the local culture.

“Before I came to Barcelona, I was really worried about not being able to dance while I was here. One of my friends knew a Catalan girl named Georgina who she had met when she was living abroad. My friend put me in contact with Georgina and when I arrived, Georgina messaged me. Georgina invited me to one of the plaza dances in Gràcia where I spent the majority of the day dancing. The best thing was that I didn't have to know the language to communicate. Lindy Hop is its own language, all I had to do was show up and dance. Georgina then educated me about the scene here and gave me limitless resources to access dances, special events, shoes, and so much more! Now, Georgina and I are very good friends and we dance together at least once a week and usually meet up to grab lunch or enjoy a drink the other times. 

My first intense immersion with the locals here was the Barcelona Lindy Exchange. The entire population of Barcelona Lindy Hoppers came out, dressed as posh as ever alongside many people from Italy, France, Germany, and other European countries. During this weekend long event, I was able to meet a lot of different people and get established with a few with whom I dance on a regular basis. Now I feel that I can walk into one of the many wonderful schools in Gràcia and not feel afraid to go up to anyone and ask for a dance. This, of course, usually leads to them finding out that I am a foreigner, which then leads to a million questions of how I know how to dance, and wah-la! I just made a new friend.” 

Baking traditional All Saints Day pastries

Newsletter LA2

LA students partipated in the “panellets” workshop where they learn how to cook this tradional pastry for All Saints Day (November 1). Panellets are small cakes or cookies in different shapes, mostly round, made mainly of marzipan(a paste made of almonds and sugar). The most popular are the panellets covered with pine nuts, consisting of the panellet basis rolled in pine nuts and varnished with egg whites. But there are a wide range of flavors you can add: strawberry; lemon; almond; cherry, etc…

Discover Barcelona on skates

Newsletter LA1

For lovers of rollerblading, there is no better option than to see the city on wheels. Throughout the year, free routes are organized every Friday night by the Barcelona Skaters Association.  LA students participated with our Spanish Guardian Angels in one of the tours and discover a different way to tour the city while skating.



Inside Scoop from Alice (Barnard College)

Alice recently shared with us her experience participating in our volunteer program.  She said, “I noticed that I have a lot of free time between school hours and my friends. Thus, I decided volunteering may be a good way to invest my time, and it definitely was. On the first day of volunteering, when I went to pick up Iñaki at his school, immediately I felt that I was seeing another side of Barcelona. It made me feel a part of the community. My volunteering family and I would often go to different part of the neighborhood, and my favorite part by far is going to the hair dresser. As a Spanish learner, it can be difficult to find people constantly talking to you about their daily life, but volunteering opened that side to me. I am really glad that I made this decision because it helped me achieve the goal of emerging myself into the Barcelona community.” 

We’re always so happy to hear when students start to feel part of the local community. It would seem that Alice has no problem getting in there with the locals as we can see in the photo below taken on the Economics and Culture trip in Granada last weekend.

Alice in Granada

Alice, in Granada

Wait, you don’t celebrate Halloween here?

Frank and Justin (Vilanova University) got to visit a local elementary school on the 31st of October where they learned that here in Spain, we don’t celebrate Halloween in the classic American sense.  Instead of staying here in the classroom at the CIEE study center, we gave the local elementary students the chance to teach our students about the traditions and celebrations surrounding the castañada (a celebration of autumn and All Saints Day).  Many say that this tradition came from the fact that during All Saints' night, the night before All Souls' Day in the Christian tradition, people would ring bells in commemoration of the dead into the early morning.  As this was an all-night affair, friends and relatives would help, and everyone would eat certain foods, including roasted chestnuts for sustenance and to keep warm. 


Smiling Faces

We have such a good looking group of Economics and Culture students this semester, we couldn’t help ourselves from putting together a collage of their smiling faces.  Looking good guys! From left to right, Hadley (Elon University), Frank (Vilanova University), Lucia (Barnard College) and Abigail (George Washington University), Alice (Barnard College), Emery (Barnard College), Sarah (George Washington University), Brian (Northeastern University), Justin (Vilanova Univeristy), and Matthew (Colby College).

Smiling faces