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50 posts categorized "Advanced Liberal Arts"

12/22/2017

Advanced Liberal Arts, Fall 2017, Newsletter III

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F3-0(CIEE ALA and UB students in the streets of Barcelona)

End of the term
Owen, Reed College
I will always remember my semester abroad with CIEE in Barcelona as a time of great personal growth.  As a study abroad experience, having to overcome the challenge of adapting to a whole new culture comes with the territory.  But in addition to that, having to conduct my personal and academic lives in a second language (and sometimes even a little of a third) proved to be a significant complicating factor at first.  During my first few weeks of classes at the University of Barcelona, I’d leave each class deeply concerned that I wouldn’t be able to pass the classes because I couldn’t understand the professors.  However insurmountable it all appeared at first, I discovered that with time came more comfort.  Now at the end of my semester, I feel almost like I’ve always been running around the city and taking my classes at the university with the friends I’ve made here.  It’s strange to remember that, in reality, I’ve only known them all for four short months.  Building a whole new life in a completely different country and language was something that all of my study abroad classmates and I have mentioned to one another as an incredible rewarding accomplishment.

F3-01(Owen –Reed College–, Florencia –University of La Verne–, Allison –Vanderbilt University–, and Lucía –Wellesley College– riding a bike...)

Give and Receive

Living and studying in another country inevitably involves being exposed to something different: a new language (of course), new customs and time tables that could be radically different from what one is used to, a different way to understand life, education, or even human relationships. The students of the CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts program in the University of Barcelona (UB) have the opportunity – and the good fortune, I would say – to be exposed to these differences from the very beginning of their stay in Barcelona: in their regular classes in the different departments of the UB, as well as in many diverse activities organized by CIEE through the term such as linguistic exchanges, cultural or volunteer activities, or through study groups at the CIEE Barcelona site led by UB local students. These personal relationships between American and Spanish students are not always easy, nor do they necessarily appear spontaneously. Like other aspects of life, personal relationships require time and dedication; it is necessary to accept from the first moment that what you give is also what you receive, but also that a person naturally receives what they give. It is the magical balance between giving and receiving.

F3-1(Sasha –George Washington University–, Nicole –Tulane University–, Maya –UC San Diego–, Kassandra –University of La Verne–, and Ralitsa –Columbia University–, in front of Bilbao Guggenheim Museum during the CIEE weekend trip)

When Samia and Dani, two students from the Philology department of the University of Barcelona, started their academic internships in October at CIEE Barcelona, I knew that, in their contact with the American students from our different study programs, they would quickly find this balance of giving and receiving. The tasks and goals of these two students were quite clear: take their first steps as educators taking the hands of some students that specifically needed these other “local” hands to guide them, and to improve their comprehension and integration into this new life and new educational system. But, I am not sure if Samia and Dani were aware during those first days of October that their generosity and fantastic work with the students would go in two directions. As I said before, they face the fortunate cycle of giving and receiving. These testimonials will better explain what I am trying to say…

Dani, UB Student
My name is Daniel Cuní Díez. This semester I collaborated with CIEE during my external curricular internship. I am currently seeking study a Master’s degree in Spanish as a Foreign Language in Professional Environments at the University of Barcelona. Because of my connection with the UB, I participated in some activities for the Advanced Liberal Arts program.

I have been able to improve my teaching practice by organizing tutoring sessions for the students that were taking Spanish language courses in CIEE Barcelona, but also leading study groups for the ALA students that were taking direct enrolment courses in the Spanish Philology Department at the UB. I assisted them, most especially on literary themes, since many of them do not have academic training in this area. In addition, I presented them with a general panorama of literature in Spain and in Europe, and I also resolved specific doubts they had about the topics. In my case, I focused on Spanish Illustration and I explained the contents through text analyses.

My experience has been really positive in several aspects, given that the relationship with the students was really close and rewarding. I have increased my overall competence in relation to Spanish as a foreign language and, most importantly, I learned new things about the American educational system, which is really different from the Spanish one.

F3-2(Alicia –Carnegie Mellon University–, Rocio –Wingate University–, and Emma –Columbia University– with Dani)

Samia, UB student
My name is Samia Aderdouch and I am a student intern seeking a Master's Degree in Spanish as a Foreign Language in Professional Environments at the University of Barcelona. I have completed my internship at CIEE and my experience in tutoring American students of the ALA program has been fantastic.

Typically, the tutoring sessions covered subjects that I had already studied while majoring in Hispanic Philology, so I was able to explain my own experiences with the subjects and professors and give them lots of advice as well. It has also been a great opportunity to see how American students are and what aspects are more difficult for them. For example, when discussing literature, they often did not know all the historical or literary context of the novels.

And since I had never given classes before, I discovered how they work, what things I have to improve on and what subjects are easier for me... And I've always tried to do my best by getting involved a lot and helping them to the fullest. My goal was that they pass their exams successfully–something I think I have achieved.

Additionally, the students were always very nice, so during the various classes I always felt very comfortable and that I had a good rapport with them, likely because our ages were very similar.

F3-3(Sophie –Princeton University–, Haley and Allison –Vanderbilt University–, and Emma –Columbia University–, with Samia)

Emma, Columbia University
Samia’s and Dani’s “tutorías” completely eased my transition into Spanish academic life. The classes I enrolled in at the University of Barcelona – Spanish narrative in the 20th Century and Spanish Enlightenment literature – took some adjusting to, especially because Spanish isn’t my native language. During the tutorías, I was able to ask Samia and Dani questions I hadn’t been able to pose in class, as well as have engaging discussions to supplement the UB’s more lecture-oriented style. Samia and Dani were quite knowledgeable about the subject matter and they were able to explain complex literary and philosophical concepts in a way that I could understand despite the language barrier. It was also nice to spend time with Spanish students whose interests are similar to mine. Overall, the tutorías were an academic highlight of my time in Barcelona!

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11/22/2017

Advanced Liberal Arts, Fall 2017, Newsletter II

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Poetry and education

We live in an accelerated time and are led by the technological changes that are impacting our lives in many ways: from human relationships and communication to work and the easy access of information; and these are only a few examples. Education in general, and the university in particular, is not immune to these profound changes that have pushed our institutions toward a deeper revision of the ways and methods of teaching.

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(University of Barcelona Old Main)

It is easily verifiable that in these past years, the university has diverted its focus toward professional learning and the development of applied investigation. Its primary objective these days seems to be professional training in the diverse and specialized areas of the job market. But we cannot ignore that there are also many voices that have recently been raised alerting and asking us if we want, and if we can afford, a university that is mainly dedicated to professional development, therein marginalizing another type of intellectual training that permits us to educate committed citizens –those capable of understanding the present, judging it critically and thinking about a future for themselves and those around them– in a society that should be more free and reasonable. An important number of books and articles reminds us these days that without a solid understanding of history, anthropology, art, literature, philosophy and ethics, –these spaces of reflection that humanities can teach us– only with great difficulty can our youth be prepared for the complexities of the adult world. A few months ago, my colleague and friend, Dr. Paul DeYoung, Director of International Programs at Reed College, mentioned that our work as educators is “bringing new and important opportunities to young engaging minds that will lead our future.” Yes, Paul is right: we are educating our leaders, and we want –and need– the best leaders. Excellence, integrity, respect, collaboration: these are CIEE’s core values.

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(ALA students in front of CIEE Barcelona)

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The students of the CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts program at the University of Barcelona (UB) are a good example that this indispensable equilibrium between technical training and a solid knowledge of humanities is not only possible but recommendable. To illustrate this point with a couple of examples, this term Sophie, from Princeton University, is taking the course “Artificial Vision” in the UB Computer Engineering Department and also the courses “The Spanish Narrative in the 20th Century” in the UB Spanish Department and “Literature & Cinema in Spain” at CIEE Barcelona. Meanwhile, Julio, from Columbia University, is taking courses at the UB such as “The History of Economic Thought” and “Philosophy of Law” along with “Photography” and “Masterworks in Catalan Art.” This combination of scientific and technical courses with humanities permits our/your students to incorporate these necessary and complementary perspectives during this important formative period of their lives.

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(CIEE "Contemporary Spain" class at the Catalan Parlament)

In my opinion, amongst all the humanities studies, few better facilitate the spiritual mission of education like poetry. It is because of this that at CIEE we offer our ALA program students the unique opportunity to attend a conference and poetry recital given by Joan Margarit, one of the most important poets in recent Spanish literature. Margarit’s recital and lecture was the inaugural act of our Semana Cultural (Cultural Week). His poetry teaches us that “culture is not decoration, it is as serious as penicillin, energy or electricity.” He believes that a poem is “an instrument with the same effect of science, which creates structures so that we do not suffer cold nor hunger and that we are cured of our disease.” For Margarit, “there is an inclemency that is not physical, but moral, which makes reference to loss and love, and where there exists no button like those in a furnace that we can push when we are cold”. In the face of this moral inclemency "there are few things that can help except perhaps poetry, paintings, fine arts, philosophy and, for some, religion. It is not much, but we have nothing else.” We can only say thanks to Joan Margarit for visiting CIEE Barcelona and for sharing his words, poems and wisdom with the CIEE ALA students.

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(Renowned poet Joan Margarit lecturing and reciting to the ALA program students)

Allison, from Vanderbilt University, wanted to share her impression of Joan Margarit’s recital with us:

Alison, Vanderbilt University

It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear Joan Margarit recite his poetry. The poems themselves are so rich in both personal and historical context, but they took on even greater meaning for me when I could hear his inflections and the emotion in his voice. Margarit made it clear in his discussion after the recitation that he feels poetry is an incredible outlet for the expression of impossible human emotions. We were then able to ask questions and engage with him and his writing on another level, asking about his inspirations, unintentional meanings, and the experiences that led him to write. I am so grateful to have met a poet who is a part of living Spanish literary history and who took the time to speak with us about his life's work. 

Three poems of Joan Margarit (with the authorization of the author):

IT WASN’T FAR AWAY OR DIFFICULT
The time has come
when life that is lost no longer hurts,
when lust is a useless light
and envy is forgotten. It is a time
of wise and necessary losses,
it is not a time for arriving, but for going away.
It is now that love
finally coincides with intelligence.
It wasn’t far away or difficult.
It is a time that leaves me only the horizon
with which to measure solitude.
The time of protective sadness.

TOAST
Closer through that which no one will ever know,
we raise our two glasses.
We see our light, each in the eyes of the other.
A man and a woman, in an instant,
can be wrong.
But the instant will never come back

(translated by Anne Crowe)

LA ÉPOCA GENEROSA
Nuestros, como canciones
que nos hacen llorar, son esos días
que fueron la verdad de los anocheceres
sonrientes y del baño de los niños.
El alegre cansancio de la cena.
Las caras que no han vuelto
a confiar como entonces.
La vida se alimenta de días generosos.
De dar y proteger.
Si se ha podido dar, la muerte es otra.

 

 

09/20/2017

Advanced Liberal Arts, Fall 2017, Newsletter I

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Fall term

Mercury is falling. Autumn finally stirs awake, and this week, the sticky humidity of summer in the city paves a path for a mild, fresh, and very welcome autumn breeze that wafts us all out of our houses and onto the streets of Barcelona. The students from the Advanced Liberal Arts Program are saying farewell to these last days of the beach and are already making their way each morning from their new homes to the different departments of the Universidad de Barcelona and the CIEE Study Center. They are attending classes that represent all areas of knowledge, and which will contribute, more than anything else, to their personal growth that which only the academic experience can attribute to young university students. “Artificial Vision”, “Cellular Biology”, “Comparative Political Systems”, “Psychopathology”, “Game Theory for Business”, “Aesthetics and Ideology of the Spanish Romanticism”, “The History of Economic Though”, “Latin American Literature until Modernism”, “Gender and History”, “Neuropsychology”, “International Economic Organization”, “Literature & Cinema in Spain”, “Philosophy of Law”, and “Phonetics and Phonology of Spanish” are only a few examples of the courses that our students will be taking in the CIEE ALA Program during this fall term.

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(ALA students visiting the mountain and the Benedictine abbey of Montserrat)

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(Students in the University of Barcelona Old Main)

Orientation, rules of navigation, and doors to open 

For any person, the first days in a new city are always special. When our students arrived in Barcelona, only a few days ago, the city was both a familiar and unfamiliar place at the same time: Familiar because they had previously researched the city, looking for literary, artistic, and cinematographic references, or because they simply had conversations with other students from their universities that had been to Barcelona before and who shared their personal experiences, inundating them with incessant advice and recommendations that, shortly after arriving, the current students began to realize were impossible to follow or reproduce. But as mentioned before, it was also an unfamiliar space because none of those conversations, nor the different screens they viewed in search of images and information before traveling, nor even the simple black and white of the page of a book could compare to the multisensory experience that invades us when we walk through the streets for the first time.

BCN old IDuring the first week of their stay, CIEE organized a series of orientation sessions focused on facilitating this marvelous experience of being “new” in a new place: Advice on how to get around the city, how to find this place or that, detailed information about their classes would be, the Spanish education system, health & security, house rules for residences, homestays, and shared apartments… What to visit, what to try, what to see, what to taste… Different rules of navigation, new coordinates and lines to follow – all with the goal of converting that which was unfamiliar to familiar.

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The saturation of information during orientation is inevitable. We know that… but in the end, what CIEE gives during these first days is a key that opens a door yet to be discovered. Or better yet, a key capable of opening a million and one doors, all of them different. And it will be these students who, during the rest of the term and from their personal and unique experiences, will go opening and closing doors until they find the right combination that unlocks “their” Barcelona.

 

06/08/2017

Advanced Liberal Arts, Spring 2017, Newsletter III

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There and back

Far behind lay the days in January when the students of the CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts program arrived in Barcelona with a mix of nervousness and excitement. They arrived at a brand-new city and with hundreds of intentions and expectations, both individual and shared. During one of the orientation sessions that CIEE organizes during the first week of the students’ stay, we did an exercise with them to verbalize the reasons (and objectives) for deciding to study a semester abroad in another country. Of these reasons, two stood out: improving their level of Spanish and to have the opportunity to get to know well, not only the city (Barcelona) and the country (Spain), but also the continent (Europe).

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(ALA students in San Sebastian)

Last week, months after their arrival and during the farewell event, we did a pause to search for a moment of reflection and balance of the term where we could check that these two main goals have been met. The students of the program have had the opportunity to discover for themselves (and on many occasions hand in hand with CIEE) many corners of the city, the country and the continent, which has permitted them to expand their geographic, but more importantly, their mental horizons; on the other hand, it was truly moving to hear them speaking with an absolute dominion of the Spanish language. They themselves must have been just as impressed as we were with how much they have improved.

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(Guitarist and composer Joan Furió during his recital in the farewell event)

 

Seeing the students realize that they have achieved some of their goals is one the greatest gifts that all of us working at CIEE could receive. Because the achievements of our students are also those of the hundreds of the CIEE team, from Portland to many other places in the world. In CIEE, we believe that we can change the lives of our students. But after all these years, I have learnt something that twelve years ago, when I joined the CIEE family, I could not even imagine: that our students have also changed my own life. It took a while for me to understand that the transforming experience that we try hard to deliver to our students goes at the end in two directions… As our colleague, Dr. Kathleen Sidelli, Associate Vice President for Overseas Study at IU, and one of the CIEE Board of Directors members, said a few days ago in Madrid, “I [also] have the best job in the world.”

As always, at the end of the semester, I like to share with all my colleagues in the States the voices of the students from the CIEE ALA program in the Univesity of Barcelona. In this occasion, Ben (Amherst College) explains to us about his doubts regarding his decision to live with a host family and how this experience ended up being one of the most gratifying aspects of his stay in Barcelona; and finally, Claudia (Brandeis University) shares with us her experiences during the internship at the Vall d’Hebron Hospital at the Transcultural Psychiatry Program.

¡Buen regreso a casa a todos los estudiantes y hasta muy pronto!

 

Housing
Ben (Amherst College)

Choosing to study abroad through CIEE Barcelona’s Advanced Liberals Arts Program was one of the best decisions I’ve made throughout my college experience. Barcelona is an incredibly lively city with a unique cultural history. ALA ensures that each student is given the support and access to take full advantage of all that Barcelona has to offer.

Through ALA’s academic program, I was able to take classes at both CIEE’s La Casa and the University of Barcelona. The set-up was ideal; I had the confidence and support from my professors at CIEE to challenge myself and succeed at the UB, one of the top universities in Spain.

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(Phillip –Tufts University– and Ben –Amherst College– with the Feliu family)

Electing to live in a homestay was maybe the hardest decision I had to make but also the most rewarding. I was afraid that living with a family would mean some sort of curtailment of my independence or personal freedom. However, my homestay family was the highlight of my abroad experience – I was treated like another son, exposed to exciting family dinner conversations and able to make meaningful relationships that far exceeded my expectation. I know that when I return to Barcelona, I’ll get a hot meal and a place to stay.

Barcelona is the apex of the European experience. You live next to some of the most famous architectural buildings in the world, you witness firsthand the vigor of the Catalan independence movement and you get to experience a gastronomical culture like no other. There’s no better place in the world to study, grow and live.

Barcelona has become my second home and the Catalan people my second family. It has been a semester I will never forget. I can’t wait to come back.

Fins aviat!

Internship
Claudia (Brandeis University)

I’ve done a lot of internships in the past in a wide range of areas from local NGOs helping women to internationally recognized organizations like the American Red Cross, but few have been as gratifying as my one in Barcelona at the Transcultural Psychiatric Program at Vall d’Hebron Barcelona University Hospital.

Claudia

Claudia –Brandeis University– with her UB fellow interns.

The main reason is that as a research assistant to the senior researchers, I am given work that feels important. We have been working on refugee mental health, specifically women’s and girl’s mental health status, to try and understand what they might be going through and find/design programs and interventions that can take their needs into account. Given that the refugee crisis is so present and important, I feel like I am contributing my grain of sand into a great cause.

Another reason why I’ve enjoyed my internship so much is the work environment at the Hospital. Not only are the senior researchers, psychologists, and psychiatrists super accessible, helpful and inspiring, the other interns care about these issues as much as I do. To be part of such a passionate environment with my peers and mentors has been gratifying and has made my internship at the hospital feel like it’s not work at all, but something I thoroughly enjoy.

03/24/2017

Advanced Liberal Arts, Spring 2017, Newsletter II

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Our Faculty

This week the students from the CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts program at the University of Barcelona (UB) are taking their midterm exams. These are days of a certain general nervousness given that, for the first time since our students have arrived, preparing for exams has completely eclipsed the rest of their activities in Barcelona. It is a time for studying –long hours reading in the different libraries of the UB or in the “Sala de Lectura” of the CIEE Study Center, searching through class notes, dictionaries, reference books, and online resources, and meeting with classmates or professors to resolve their last remaining doubts before the exam.

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(One of the reading rooms of the University of Barcelona's main library)

A study abroad experience with CIEE is many things all at once: the perfecting of the Spanish language, the direct contact with new realities, landscapes and ways of thinking, and the inevitable realization of that which differentiates us, but also which unifies people from different places. To live and study in another country is, in short, to open your eyes to the world and to yourself. And this can all be achieved through our various cultural activities, contact with host families and locals, organized excursions and trips within and outside the city, linguistic exchanges with local students, etc.

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(Elizabeth and Alexandra –Columbia University–, Bailey and Alexandra –Vanderbilt University– taking the CIEE “Advanced Writing & Stylistic” midterm exam)

But these many elements that make up our programs and which our students experience through CIEE, pivot around the same axis: the academic component. One example of this is the linguistic exchange meetings that we organize for the ALA program during the term. For these meetings, we only invite students from the University of Barcelona because we want our students to not only practice Spanish with them, but also so that they have “point of reference” in the day-to-day life on campus. These are new friends that, in the end, will ease the adaptation process into the new university and are people that our students can share their classes with, or prepare for their exams with, like they have been doing during this week. One of these students from the UB, specifically from the Hispanic Philology Department, is Marta, who is doing her academic internship at CIEE. Marta spends four hours a day at CIEE doing different academic and administrative tasks. Thanks to Marta, our students can count on a UB graduate student to conduct language or content tutoring sessions, or they can join one of the different study groups that we organize weekly in our Study Center that she leads.

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(Risa –Tufts University–, Sara –Vanderbilt University–, and Sally –Washington University– surrounded by UB local students in the second linguistic exchange)

And, like we mentioned before, since the academic component is the center of all our activities, the professors of the ALA program are an essential part in order for everything to work smoothly. Our faculty are a bridge between two academic cultures (Spanish and American) –so different and occasionally contrasting. They not only help our students grow intellectually, but also contribute enormously to the adaptation process to the new academic atmosphere. This spring term, we have had the privilege of incorporating two new professors to our ALA program team: Dr. Mar Forment and Dr. Paolo Roseano, professors in the Philology Department at the University of Barcelona, the host institution of our program.

I would like to end this newsletter by sharing their profiles with all of you which, in my opinion, embody the excellence of our program:

Mar Forment, Ph.D.
CIEE Course Taught: Advanced Spanish Writing and Stylistics

Dr. Mar Forment Fernández is a professor of Spanish Language in the Spanish Philology Department at the University of Barcelona, where she earned her Ph.D. in 1999. She has taught courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, as well as Spanish as a Foreign Language classes at different higher education institutions. Her research area covers Spanish semantics and phraseology, on which she has authored numerous articles, books and reviews. Since 2001 she has been directing the academic activities related to Spanish as a Foreign Language at the Menendez Pelayo International University (UIMP) Barcelona campus. She is also an accredited examiner for DELE exams at the Instituto Cervantes. Currently, she is involved in a research project that aims to clarify Spanish legal language.

Paolo Roseano, Ph.D.
CIEE Course Taught: Spanish for Heritage Learners

Paolo Roseano earned a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Trieste (Italy) in 2004 and a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Barcelona (UB) in 2012. His expertise includes prosody of Romance languages, forensic phonetics, language contact, phonology and morphology. He works in the Phonetics Laboratory at the University of Barcelon and is a professor in the Department of Spanish Philology at the same institution, where he has taught several subjects (Sociolinguistics, Historical linguistics, Syntax and Spanish Grammar for foreign students). Paolo also teaches acoustic phonetics in the MA program in Phonetics at the CSIC (Madrid, Spain) and Learning Difficulties and Language Disorders at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain. Previously, he was a professor of Sociology of Ethnic Relations at the University of Trieste and worked as a researcher at the International Sociology Institute of Gorizia (Italy).



02/16/2017

Advanced Liberal Arts, Spring 2017, Newsletter i

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New classes

Three weeks ago, the students from the CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts program at the Universitat de Barcelona arrived in their new city with a vague idea as to which courses they wanted to take during their study abroad in Barcelona. Two weeks before their arrival, they received an email from us with the “Guía de asignaturas” (a course listing) that has over 300 available courses in the various departments of the UB such as Biology, Mathematics, International Relations, History, Spanish Language and Literature, and Psychology, just to name a few. Together with this guide, they also received all the syllabi of these courses. The idea was that the students would be able to discuss which courses were the most compliant with the requirements of their Majors and Minors from their home schools with their study abroad and academic advisors. Once in Barcelona, during the orientation period before the start of the courses, the students went through personal advising sessions with the Resident Director to discuss the appropriateness, or not, of their pre-selections. The purpose of this process is two-fold: on the one hand, for CIEE it assures us that the total number of credits that our students will receive will be validated by their home universities and that, at the end of the term, it will be another piece in this grand puzzle of necessary courses to complete the students’ academic requirements at home; and on the other hand, we also want assurance that this academic selection will be the most appropriate, not only from a purely academic interest but also so that it will fulfill the students’ personal expectations when they experience the Spanish university system, which is so different from the one that they are accustomed to.

The students from spring term can count on an exceptional advantage: the all-year program peers that have already lived these first days at the University of Barcelona back in September. It was for this reason that Josie from Barnard College and Nina from the University of Tulsa not only participated in the academic orientation session, but they also attended many of the activities organized by CIEE during the new students’ first days in Barcelona. Their voices, advice and recommendations were the best way to comfort our incoming students who felt, logically, a little bit scared before the start of this new academic and personal adventure.

IMG-20170129-WA0020Nina wanted to share her memories with us of that last September, in the fall term, when everything was so new for her.

Nina, University of Tulsa.

My name is Nina and I am in my second semester of the ALA program at CIEE. Although the past four months had their challenges, they ended up being truly rewarding and educational for me. Throughout the semester, classes at CIEE were engaging and manageable; the UB classes, however, did not always feel this way. When I and the other American students arrived in our UB class the first day, we noticed a few things that were very different from the way they were our American universities. We realized that it is not uncommon for a Spanish professor to be fifteen minutes late to class, or that we would be given no assignments, and most importantly that reading schedules would not be laid out for us. These differences, along with the language barrier, made our UB classes seem a little overwhelming in the beginning. Thankfully we had the help of a local UB graduate and one of our professors giving us study sessions for our midterms and finals. After the midterm, we had a better idea of what to expect and how we needed to manage our time. By the end of the semester, I saw the language barrier disappear almost completely and my reading comprehension greatly increase. My advice to incoming students would be to go to class, do a little reading every day, and just have patience with yourself because you will see improvements.IMG-20170129-WA0014IMG_3178

01/05/2017

ADVANCED LIBERAL ARTS, FALL 2016, NEWSLETTER III

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Study Abroad: difficulties and challenges

In the first Newsletter, of this past fall term, we wrote about how the first days in any study abroad experience is a necessary mix of happy emotions, worry, nerves, and frustration. For some students, these first weeks might seem traumatic because they need to adapt to a new cultural, academic and linguistic reality, but it is not an identical process for everyone, nor is it calculable. Each person needs to face –and to overcome– the difficulties in their own diverse and unique way. While for some students, the integration into a new city and a new University (The University of Barcelona in this case) passes in only a few days and at a great velocity, other students find serious difficulties to find their place in their new surroundings and to understand the expectations of their new professors, who may have a teaching style that might be radically different to those in their home campus.

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In CIEE, we try to anticipate these potential difficulties and we take the time to instruct and inform about them during the orientation, and to solve them with concrete actions during the first days and weeks. But we are also conscious and know the indisputable truth: studying and living in a different country is an individual, unique and unrepeatable experience. And that which presents itself as complicated, frustrating or discouraging in a first phase, transforms into something magical at the end of the journey. Like in other aspects in life –and the Study Abroad experience is not an exception– the balances and the conclusions cannot be found at the beginning of a project. It is necessary to wait for its conclusion so that, with the necessary perspective, you can see how far you have come, and more importantly, how different you are today after the journey faced.

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Abby, from Villanova University, has learned this lesson well after her experience in the CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts program in the University of Barcelona. Her testimonial is the perfect example to illustrate what I am trying to say:

TESTIMONIAL. Just three short months ago, by Abby (Villanova University)

Just three short months ago I arrived in Spain ready to take on my semester abroad. I landed in Barcelona and the only thing running through my head was why did I sign up for this program? Why am I taking all of my classes in Spanish? What was I thinking? I felt apprehensive about my decision and decided to see Alberto, the program director. I was frustrated and doubtful and I actually started to cry in front of a man I had only met a few days before. Alberto assured me that I just needed to relax, take each day at a time and believe in myself.

The changes did not happen overnight and I had to work hard every single day, but with the help of my tutor, Mar, and all of the people at CIEE I began to feel better about my abilities. While my achievements can be seen through scores and numbers, I think the most rewarding part of it has been feeling comfortable with myself. I started to participate more and ask questions in class and I even approached professors at the University of Barcelona if I needed clarification. My confidence and progression with Spanish have been improved so much in such a short amount of time.

Looking back on this semester, I cannot believe that it is already over. It has been everything I had hoped to get out of my study abroad experience and more. I have grown personally as well as academically and I could not have achieved all that I have this semester without the help of the amazing staff at CIEE. My experience abroad has meant so much to me and I will be forever grateful for my semester with CIEE ALA program and all that it has taught me.

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11/22/2016

ADVANCED LIBERAL ARTS, FALL 2016, NEWSLETTER II

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As educators, in CIEE we know that the learning process always goes beyond the four walls of a classroom: it is also a question answered in the halls after class, a long conversation about a lateral subject that has come up after asking a concrete academic question in the professor’s office, or a serendipitous meeting in any corner of the city between any of our students. All of this complements and strengthens that which is already included in an always limited syllabus program.

If there is anything that defines the educative experience of any student during their stay abroad it is, without a doubt, the experiential learning where observation, the interaction with new elements and personal reflection are key in the process of learning. Last Friday, we ended the Semana Cultural (Cultural Week) of the ALA program, a week that supports this idea of experiential learning. That week, the standard CIEE cultural courses changed their format and hours, and were opened to all the students of the ALA program.

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La Semana Cultural was kicked off with a very special inauguration: Dr. Mariano Lambea (musicologist from CSIC) and Dra. Lola Josa (UB professor of Spanish Golden Age Literature) offered a lecture titled “Entre aventuras y encantamientos: música para Don Quijote” (Amongst Adventures and Spells: Music for Don Quixote). In this lecture, Mariano and Lola composed a poetic itinerary with music to illustrate certain landscapes of the novel “Don Quijote de La Mancha.” The students could listen to the sounds of some pieces that were recorded by La Gran Chapelle, a vocal-instrumental group specialized in the interpretation of historical music with original instruments. La Semana Cultural continued with various visits to temporary exhibitions, museums, walks through Roman Barcelona, and the viewing of a recently premiered Spanish movie in the cinemas of the country.

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But this Cultural Week started with the previous weekend trip to Seville and Cordoba, two cities of Andalusia with a unique artistic legacy. The trip was preceded by special sessions from different CIEE courses dedicated to contextualize what the students were going to see. For example, the professor of the course “Masterworks of Catalonian Art” dedicated a class to explain the characteristics of Islamic art in Spain; the professor of the “Contemporary Spain” course dedicated a session to explain the “Reconquista,” the period of history of the Iberian Peninsula spanning approximately 770 years between the Islamic conquest of Hispania in 710 and the fall of the last Islamic state in Iberia at Granada; the professors of the CIEE mandatory course “Advanced Writing and Stylistics” explained to the students the varieties of Spanish in Andalusia. We are convinced that these academic sessions served as a theoretical base to enjoy, in its entirety dimension, the trip to the south of Spain.

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In addition, the students had a surprise: it was a meet-up with the students from the ALA program of the CIEE Seville Study Center, where they could share conversations about the city. It was really touching to see them speaking, from the first moments onwards, only in Spanish. And what better guides to discover Seville’s nightlife at night than from the first-hand experiences of the current students living there!

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TESTIMONIAL. Learning Outside of the Classroom, by Jared (Colorado College)

I went abroad to learn, but the essence of proper education is that it transcends the classroom. The proper education does not manifest until it is practically applied, or, better yet, unpractically considered by the student. John Keats, the famous English poet, once said that “nothing becomes real ‘til it is experienced.” I have to experience Barcelona, Spain in order to learn about Barcelona, Spain. This experience was made available by CIEE in the inaugural Semana Cultural.

During this week, I was provided with several opportunities to apply what I have learned and then other opportunities to absorb raw culture. The first activity I attended was a lecture on the music that was tactically coupled with Cervantes’ Don Quixote. I had no prior knowledge of music, music theory, or even the omnipresence of Cervantes’ canonical novel. The entire room was engaged and provoked to consider the thematic and syntactical implications of the Quixote musical-poem experience.

The next cultural experience was at the Museu Nacional D’Art de Catalunya. A group of us were given a tour by Professor Anna Vallfugera. She thoughtfully guided us through the art of Ramon Casas, the furniture of Antoni Gaudí, and finally the medieval collection of frescos that are delicately removed from their original sites throughout Catalunya. The experience that began with exiting the Espanya metro stop on the green line, and then led to an ascension to the palace that holds the Catalan art collection, manifested in a newfound respect for the artists of this region from hundreds of years back to the Catalan artists of present day.

I then attended a screening of Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s Que Dios Nos Perdone. The film itself revealed the distinction between Spanish, and perhaps European, cinema and that of the United States. The consensus following the movie was that several scenes from the film would not have been allowed in a general cinema in the United States. The lack of limits imposed on an artist within a more progressive society was explored among my classmates and me.

To finish the week, I went on a tour of the Museu D’Historia de Barcelona. The focus of the tour was on the Roman influence in the Barrio Gótico that exists to this day, both culturally and architecturally. At the end of the week I had covered all aspect of the arts, both written and visual, as well as tapped in to the history of one of the most dynamic cities I’ve explored. The Semana Cultural took me out of the classroom and into the museums, cinemas, and streets of Barcelona—and I came out a more enriched abroad student.

09/20/2016

ADVANCED LIBERAL ARTS, FALL 2016, NEWSLETTER I

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First weeks

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These are the first days in a new city, of a new country, and a new continent. These are the first days using the Spanish language at all times, which in reality isn’t that new to the students, but becomes something quite different from the Spanish that they have learned within the classrooms of their universities. These are the first days in a new university, the University of Barcelona (UB), with new classmates, new professors, new classes, and above all, new ways of learning.

Those that think this is easy are quite wrong. The first days in any study abroad experience is a necessary mix of emotions, worry, nerves, frustration, happiness and incalculable curiosity.  All that is new becomes a challenge, a discovery, but it also becomes an accumulation of small surprises (happy at times; strange and uncomfortable in many other occasions) that will determine the rest of the stay in this new destination.

In CIEE, we know quite well that these first days are crucial in the global experience of our students. That is why we are especially careful in the organization of the first week of orientation and in the planning of cultural, social and linguistic activities that we organize in parallel to the sessions about security, health, practical matters, academics, etc.

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And between all of the activities, sessions, and experiences that our students live during these first days, the beginning of the direct enrollment courses in the UB represents a point of inflection because the students visualize and feel that one of their expectations that they had in the United States is about to take place. Fear and excitement are inevitably mixed together and it is very common that the students gather in the office door of the Resident Director to show their concern in regards to the difficulty of the first day in a particular class.

This year is no different as all other years, and a group of students came very worried to my door because they did not know if they would be prepared for the “La narrativa española del Siglo XX” course in the Philology Department in the University of Barcelona. It was very interesting to see how they were calmed immediately when I showed them the answer that I had from the professor of this course when I informed her that my students would be in her course once again. And I would also like to share this with all of you, which, in my opinion, perfectly explains the profile of the students of the CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts program in the UB:

Dear Alberto,

You cannot imagine the joy that your email has given me.

For me, it is always a pleasure to have your students. They are very hard workers and they always show great involvement with my material.

Un abrazo fuerte y hasta pronto,

Dra. Blanca Ripoll

Dearest students, the first days have passed. Your adventure has only just begun.

06/01/2016

ADVANCED LIBERAL ARTS, SPRING 2016, NEWSLETTER, END OF TERM

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Higher Education and Public Diplomacy

A new course has ended, and the students of the CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts in the University of Barcelona program are returning to the United States with their suitcases full of new books, unique experiences, long standing friendships and unforgettable memories. But they are not only bringing things back home; they have also left in our country and in our memories, many aspects from their country, their culture and their vision of the world. Study abroad is, in its essence, a mutual understanding and a solid form of public diplomacy.

Public Diplomacy

The use of the university as a diplomatic front is a spontaneous practice that has emerged from its own birth. Since the 12th century' short European Renaissance, with the founding of the first universities, the exchange of students between one country to another was already an advanced and involuntary form of diplomacy. Higher education already supposed a way for a country’s expansion. We are talking about the diplomacy of the classrooms, strengthened by countries that were convinced of the transcendence of the academic world. All of the States can agree that a strong and competitive university is an open door to a certain type of individual, to a society, that will mark the future of our countries.

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The CIEE students move through the world with the objective to learn, but they also bring with them the necessity (and will) for integration, to accumulate experiences, to discover, to broaden their vision of the world. It is the type of student that, after a few months, will know first-hand the country that has received them, they have overcome possible prejudices, and would have a complete idea of the reality, and most importantly, they would take all of this cultural knowledge with them for the rest of their lives. The student, a citizen for a time period in a country that is not theirs, will be a non-premediated ambassador; an involuntary messenger that will bring the idea of this country to the rest of the world.

We are talking about an international educational exchange, of a shared interest by institutions and by people, on knowledge transfer. It is a way to get to know each other and to establish bonds. It is, perhaps, an informal, but the closest strategy to public diplomacy, and also the most private and efficient. Here in CIEE, we strongly believe in this form of public diplomacy through higher education. We change lives; our alumni change the world.

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Two voices, two examples of this: Darío, one of the local flatmates wrote abour his experience sharing an apartment with three students of the ALA program; Charlie, a student from Vanderbilt University, responded Darío.

Dario, Spanish local student and CIEE flatmate:

My experience with Clark, Charlie and Connor, has been one of the best living arrangements that I have had in these last years. I have been sharing apartments with many different students these past three years, and although it might sound hard to believe, this was the best experience out of all of them. But it wasn't just living with really great roommates that I got out of this experience, but own my personal growth. It is what this experience generated in my way of thinking and seeing the world that was the most poignant. Living with these guys changed me. I'm not the same Darío that walked through that door some months ago.

Starting with the simplest, they changed the way I see Barcelona, and now I see it through different eyes. I visited places that I have always had close, but have never taken the time to appreciate.

I learned about the American culture, its utilitarianism, but also its honor and respect. I learned to care and to let myself be cared for.

Testimonio Darío

I was there for them and saw how they were also there for me, without wanting anything in return. They invited me on trips with them and invited me to be a part of their lives. They taught me to understand details of their country that I had never paid any attention to at all, and that no one of my same culture could have taught me.

I had new possibilities open to me, new adventures shared with them, new celebrations and new gastronomy. But above all, I gained new friends. I had the genuine and sincere opportunity to forge a friendship, a real friendship. All I can do is thank them for coming and thank CIEE for the opportunity. You don't do exchange programs, you change the way of understanding the world and of people.

Charlie, Vanderbilt University

Entering study abroad, I felt most anxious about my living situation. Not only would I be moving to a new city, but I would also be living with strangers. Additionally, one of these roommates would be a local Spanish student, and I was unsure if we'd even be able to communicate.

However, my worries were completely unfounded. On January 28th, the entire program met for the first time in the Gran Hotel Havana to begin orientation. After a quick meet and greet, the program director put us in taxis so we that we could move into our apartments. The entire twenty-minute ride back to Sarrià, there was never once a break in conversation or lull in laughter. Through a choppy mix of Spanish and English, we had no problems communicating. During this car ride, my worries about the upcoming semester washed away. Since that day, I have not looked back.

Although I have learned a lot in my classes this semester, the most valuable lessons these last few months have occurred outside of the classroom.  While I agree with the cliché phrase, "Study abroad taught me about myself," I would say that the relationships I have formed here to be even more meaningful and insightful. Through exchanges organized by CIEE and my enrollment in the University of Barcelona, I have been able to intimately interact with students from all over the world. I have heard war stories from a Korean student over coffee, discussed the Castro regime with a Cuban student in a pool hall and swapped ski stories with a girl from Switzerland. 

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This certainly is the most valuable part of study abroad: exposure to new people, ideas and cultures. For this reason, I am especially grateful to my Spanish roommate and the CIEE Guardian Angels for always introducing me to new aspects of local Spanish culture. 

Thank you to my friends, roommates, Guardian Angels and the CIEE program director and staff for an incredible semester. 

 

Barcelona (and Pablo Neruda)

And we want to finish this Newsletter with a special video: a personal tour through the streets of Barcelona made by Eva (Barnard College) and Amelia (Yale University), by the hand of the poet Pablo Neruda. Thanks Eva and Amelia!