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4 posts from January 2016




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!


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! 


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.”


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.




It has been almost a month since Liberal Arts students arrived to Barcelona! They have been very busy with their intensive Spanish language class, getting to know the city and participating in a lot of cultural events such as guided city tours; day trips, an intercambio (language exchange event) or playing soccer with locals.

Here there are some details:

Orientation, city tours and the Three Wise Men Parade

During the first three days of orientation, students attended different talks about safety, academics, cultural activities, volunteering opportunities, bystander intervention workshop and an intercultural competence session. It was also the time to meet their host families or their Spanish flatmate; get around the city with their Guardian Angels (Spanish students); an even enjoy de traditional Three Wise Men Parade that celebrates Epiphany in Spain.  

Orientation 5 Spring2016, Newsletter I LA2

Mary Margaret from University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and Regan from Vanderbilt University; John (Jack) from Fordham University meet their host families

Use your Spanish in context

Liberal students took a 3 week intensive Spanish class in which they refreshed their Spanish, got ready to their Spanish academic experience at the local institution, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, and started to use their Spanish.  Two of the out of class activities consisted in going to a local market to buy food and eat it later in the classroom; and do a scavenger hunt around a traditional neighborhood asking questions to the locals. Students enjoyed the opportunity to practice the language in a useful context.

Spring2016, Newsletter I LA

Language Exchange Event

Students participated in the first Language Exchange Event organized by CIEE where they met Spanish students and they practice Spanish/English language conversation. Our students had to interview the Spanish students as an assignment for their intensive Spanish classes: Advanced Grammar, Composition and Conversation or Advanced Spanish Grammar for Academic Discourse.   

Spring2016, Newsletter I LA1




Bienvenidos, Welcome to Barcelona!

Language and Culture Program students have already been in Barcelona for almost a month and they have already done a lot of activities! We held orientation; they participated in tours and excursions; attended the host institution Pompeu Fabra (UPF) Welcome session; took their Spanish placement test, and started their UPF and CIEE classes. Here there are some details:

Foto portada

Welcome to Pompeu Fabra University

Language and Culture students attended the host institution Pompeu Fabra University Welcome session. They had an introduction to the university; learned about academics, cultural activities and student’s resources; and they took their Spanish placement test. Students had a tour of the university to get familiarized with the campus. Students also enjoyed a welcome lunch with CIEE and their Spanish Guardian Angels.

Newsletter I LC1

What is your goal studying abroad?

As part of CIEE orientation, students participated in a talk titled: “How to break the American Bubble”. Students learned tips on how to get immersed in the Spanish society;  levels of engagement; and about the cultural reflection on their own culture. At the end of the session students write a letter to themselves with their own goals studying abroad.

Newsletter I LC

Visit to the Roman town of Tarragona

Students participated in the day trip to the Roman town of Tarragona. Today, evidence of its Roman past can be found in the many well preserved ruins within the city. Because of their cultural significance, the Roman ruins of Tarragona have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. Students toured all the Roman remains which include city walls, circus and amphitheater.

Newsletter I LC2





First days at ELISAVA (new Design track in English!)

This Spring semester, three CIEE students on the Architecture and Design program have signed up for the new ELISAVA Study Abroad program. This new program, taught in English, has been recently launched by ELISAVA School of Design, our long-time partner for direct enrollment courses in Spanish. The new program is completely taught in English and it thus provides students that don’t speak Spanish well the opportunity or being part of the local design scene too.


Mercedes, from Lehigh University, was very excited to meet the other international students and to visit the school’s classrooms and workshops

Living like locals, designing for locals

Shortly after arrival students in the program Architecture track started their classes. As part of their “Architecture studio” class, they visited Casa Bloc, an apartment building initiated in 1933 by the Catalan government with the objective to create quality, modern housing that met the basic standards of living, for workers in need. The purpose of this visit was to provide precedents for the students’ first project with Prof. Rafael Gómez-Moriana: an “ideal apartment unit”.

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Beth, Emily, Gabrielle and Tyler enjoying their visit to Casa Bloc

Unlike North America, where most people live in houses, in Spain most people live in pisos, or apartments. The apartment usually doesn’t have windows on all sides.There’s always some sort of communal entrance and stairway, and with luck also an elevator. Life in apartment buildings is much less private: the noise, cooking smells and eyes of neighbors often take some getting used to.

Yet, apartment life is the future of cities. The single family house is entirely dependent on the availability of cheap energy and cheap land, and who knows how much longer that will last. What can architecture do so that the quality of life in apartments is good? Bringing daylight into all the bedrooms and living and dining room of an apartment is an architectural challenge. How can apartments perhaps even generate part of the energy they consume from renewable sources? Can apartments be designed with some flexibility in mind, so that different kinds of households can use them in different ways? Can apartments be built more affordably, so that more people can access them? Can they be built in a way that emits less carbon into the atmosphere, thereby slowing climate change? These are the most important questions facing housing design today, and they are architectural questions.