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01/29/2016

BUSINESS + CULTURE, SPRING 2016, NEWSLETTER I

BARCELONA IN THREE WORDS

We asked our Spring 16 Business and Culture students to sum up their experience so far in Barcelona and we got some interesting responses.  Check it out!

“I COULD STAY HERE ALL DAY!” STUDENTS DIVE INTO THE HEART OF BARCELONA’S CONTROVERSIAL NEIGHBORHOOD

Raval - boqueria

Stepping out of their comfort zone, students sample some of the weird and wonderful foods in the Boqueria market.

The CIEE orientation week gave everyone a perfect introduction to the city of Barcelona, but during one afternoon activity some students had the chance to delve a little deeper, beyond the polished statues and leafy plazas into what has always been the most animated yet controversial part of the city: El Raval.  Originally located just outside the old city walls, this area has historically been a cultural melting-pot due to its proximity to the port area - and all the sorts of characters and venues that usually entails.  On an ‘observation walking tour’ we took a stroll through its winding streets taking in the ethnic diversity of the local businesses, community spaces, and the Dickensian characters selling exotic jewelry. The classic marketplace of the Boqueria epitomizes this mix, offering up freshly made snacks and dishes from all over Spain and the world. We spent a lot longer there than expected! “I could stay here all day!!” said Kaeli from Indiana University “…can we just stay here a few more hours and have dinner too?”

Raval -  cat

Group shot with the infamous Botero cat on the Rambla de Raval.  Jesse from Oberlin College sneaks in a kiss! 

FLAMENCO. SUN. SIESTAS. TAPAS

Flying the flag

Flying the flag for CIEE Barcelona way down in Seville.

Andalusia is picture postcard Spain at its most exotic and the Business & Culture group spent a weekend exploring Sevilla and Cordoba. The south of Spain is in many ways like a different country, and for most it was a first chance to see Spain beyond Barcelona. 

For the past few weeks they’ve been learning all about the country’s ancient and colorful past, and nowhere is it more notable than in this region.  Hercules and Julius Caesar left their mark here, followed by centuries of Muslim rule right up until 1492. So the group had a chance to see the architectural mix that all this left behind, and some of the oldest things they’d ever seen: “The Mesquita in Cordoba blew my mind - in the US there might be a 120 year old farm, but this is like 1200 years old, I can't even fathom that!” says Jack from Indiana University.  Courtney from Cornell University noted the melting pot of architectures– “There’s this amazing cathedral with an old mosque minaret right next to brand new apartments”.

Soon after arriving in Sevilla one group checked out the Alcázares – the Royal Palace recently doubling up as the kingdom of Dorne in Game of Thrones. This was the high point of the trip for Brandon from Skidmore College, with its Moorish architecture: “I was blown away by the Alcázar, the intricate way they cut out every tile hundreds of years ago”.  He also noted the definite change of pace compared to Catalonia:  “The south of Spain is definitely quainter and visually appealing, and has more of a small town feel and slow pace. I mean, Barcelona is slow but here seems super chilled.”

Alcazares

Aaron (Brandeis), Brandon (Skidmore), Abdi (Babson), Taylor (Indiana) and Julia (Babson) taking some sun in the gardens featured in Game of Thrones

On the last morning we met up with some of the guys at CIEE Sevilla for a Sunday stroll around the Plaza de Espana.  This included a chance to work off the vast amounts of tapas consumed with a leisurely row in the lake in front of the huge building used as a set for the Planet of Naboo in Star Wars.

Sevilla plaza composite

Left: Michael and Catherine rowing for the Wisconsin team in the bright January sun. Right: around Plaza España, in good company.

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