Not sure what program is right for you? Click Here

© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Study Abroad in

Back to Program Back to Blog Home

97 posts categorized "Business and Culture"




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.




Andrew (Babson College) tells us all about his experience volunteering at the local school, Ernest Lluch as the highlight of his semester:

“During my visits at the school, I would help the students with some grammar, but mostly just spoke/interacted with them about what life is like in the United States. I genuinely enjoyed every moment that I spent with the students, they were such a great group of kids. They were hilarious and so well-behaved. I highly recommend any incoming study abroad students to participate in the volunteering program that CIEE set-up. It was something that I looked forward to each week. Being around students like them makes you feel rejuvenated and younger again. The students surprised me on my last day with photos and a nice note. Thank you so very much for setting me up with this opportunity, it was certainly a highlight of my time here in Barcelona!”

Andrew 1

Graham (Occidental College) won the Fall15 photo contest. He was the overall winner across all 7 Barcelona programs.  He gladly accepted his prize last week at the Fall15 farewell party and said he was looking forward to spending his Amazon prize money as soon as he could.  His photo is of the spectacular view from Montserrat during one of our many day trips this semester.  Graham said that going to Montserrat “was one of the best days he had in Barcelona.  I love to hike in general when I’m home, but this mountain was really something special.”

Graham Garzon_BC_Montserrat

Fall15 Business and Culture students tell us what they know about the local Caga Tío and its traditions:


Guardian Angel's experiences


This past weekend some students went to Madrid, accompained by four GA and some of the staff of CIEE. During those days we visited the city and even went to visit Toledo one day. We had a tour guide to show us some of the most important things about Madrid. During the tour we had the oportunity to eat jamón serrano and churros con chocolate, typical food of Spain. We visited the Prado museum and Las Meninas, the incredible Velazquez painting. We also had a lot of free time to visit the city on our own, visiting places like the Retiro Park or El Palacio Real. It was a really great trip.

Xavi Ortega


"To have the chance of working meeting people from the U.S. is one of the best experiences in my life. But if a normal Wednesday someone from the CIEE calls you to give the news you’ll have the opportunity to travel with your group of american students to Madrid, makes the experience even better! For most locals (including myself), Madrid doesn’t seem a big deal, but this travel made me feel like I was part of this american group, as if I was from New York, Boston or wherever, which was awesome. To interact with the students for 3 whole days and visiting Madrid and Toledo most beautiful places, was a constant fun! Honestly, I wish I could go back to the past and live those days again."

Irene Altozano


This past weekend in Madrid has been amazing! We have done a lot of things in just 3 days, from visiting the Prado museum to going to Toledo, a beautiful city just one hour far from Madrid city. We have also enjoyed a guided tour in the city center, a visit in Reina Sofia museum and also in the Royal Palace, a stroll in El Rastro Market, some of the typical Spanish food (jamón, churros con chocolate, mazapán...) and the lively vibe of the capital in general. I'm very happy I got to know all the students and I'm sure it has been a great experience for them too :)

Andrea Palau


An unexpected journey

PostsI'm a Spanish student working part-time as Guardian Angel of CIEE, and I had the unexpected opportunity to travel to Madrid the first weekend of October with American students of Business + Culture program, with other 3 GAs.  I already visited Madrid in other occasions, but it was the first time I did tourism in the city with lots of guys of my age. We've been hanging all day around the city, and one day in Toledo, and we lived great experiences:  eating at a delicious Churros bar, going dinner Tapas at Madrid old district and laughing in a charming square, etc.  The best way I could have ever imagined to visit the capital of Spain.

Marcos Rodes




CIEE Students Try Catalan Food!

Many of our Business and Culture students came out to participate in our first CIEE video of students trying Catalan food and snacks for the first time.  A big thanks goes out to those who participated including Andre, Stela, Paris and Andrew (Babson College), Elaine (Purdue University), Brett (Elon University), Jack, Bryar and Lizzie (University of Minnesota), Matthew (University of La Verne), Felicia (Rochester Institute of Technology), Amanda and Alex (University of Colorado Boulder), and Kira (George Washington University).  A special thanks to Zach (Elon University) for doing all the editing.  Enjoy!

And PS it’s just apple juice…

CIEE Students Try Catalan Food from Elizabeth Pogoloff on Vimeo.

Visit with the Director of the Barcelona Museo de Xocolata

This semester the CIEE Barcelona Study center welcomes the Director of Barcelona’s Museo de Xocolata and Business Professor, Francisco Gil.  Francisco is currently teaching International Marketing in Spanish and decided to take his students to see where all the magic happens! Elaine (Purdue University), Hannah (Elon University) and Brian (Indiana University) enjoying a hands-on and a behind the scenes look at the Museum’s activities. 

International Marketing museo de xocolata

Wait! It rains in Barcelona!?

While we’ve been enjoying the end of our typical sunny Barcelona summer, students were caught by surprise when the skies opened up during the first week of class and they were trapped in the study center totally unprepared.  But that’s what we’re here for, right?  Mathew (University of La Verne), Carl (University of Colorado Boulder), Kavish, Connor and Naman (Babson College) looking adorable in their impromptu raincoats:

Tendencia RAIN COATS! (2)





Abby (University of Minnesota-Twin Cities) took home the big win for her lovely photo in the Host Family Ties Category.  The winning photo features Abby and her roommate enjoying some Barcelona sunshine with their host mother. Love the hats ladies!  Also cleaning up in the contest, Austin (Babson College) came in a clear first in the Most Creative category with his hilarious recreation of the Star Wars scene taken on our CIEE weekend trip to Sevilla. 

Abbey Eliason, A weekend in our Mama de Espana's hometown- host family ties


Austin Zurn_Star Wars Amigos_Most creative

After seeing Austin’s photo, I’m sure you’re trying to remember where that scene was.  Well scenes from both the 1999 and 2001 Star Wars movies were shot in Plaza España in Sevilla.  Check out the video to see where Austin got his motivation for his winning shot:


Students got together for the last time to practice their Spanish with the locals.  Many said they could really see how much they had improved when they were able to really maintain a conversation and were even able to crack a few jokes.



Please take a moment to enjoy a glimpse at all the good times we had here with the Business and Culture students this Spring:


Mi vida en Barcelona

Ibrahima Host family

I was very nervous as I sat down at the hotel waiting for my host mom to come and pick me up. I did not know what to expect neither did I know what to do or say to greet her. Few minutes later, my host mom came and met me. She greeted me with two kisses on each cheek and said “Hola Ibrahima, Soy Piti”. I wasn’t very used to greeting people with kisses but from the kisses I knew she is very caring, kind and awesome. We took a cab and talked all the way to her house. When we got home, I met my host brother, Oriol and my host sister, Eulàlia. My host mom gave me a tour of the house and later showed me my room. Few minutes later I felt like I was at my own house in New York. Living with my host family has been an awesome journey. During dinner, we talk about everything. We talk about politics, social issues, cultures, and most importantly we always joke around. We always have fun. The food bonds and unites us. We usually start by asking how everyone’s day went and later kept the conversation going. I always leave dinner feeling satisfied, happy and ready for the next day. My host mom also does laundry for me at least twice a week and cleans my room once a week. She takes care of me well, and I couldn’t be happier. I had never lived in someone’s home before and the thought of it had made me nervous despite the fact that I am a very outgoing individual. However living with my host family in Barcelona made me more confident about myself and taught me how to interact with others, and I think these skills that I have gained will be very useful in the near future when I enter the professional world.

Ibrahima voluntariado

I was also lucky to be provided with a once a week volunteering opportunity at a local school called INS Ernest Lluch. At this school, I work with students who are about 14 years old on average. I am very happy to have been given this opportunity because I learn so much from them. They are very intelligent students who have so much potential and are very respectful as well. The volunteering opportunity is very flexible, and I was asked to have a conversation with these students in English so that they could practice their English skills. It was up to me how I wanted to go about this process. So, I decided to teach them things about the American culture and asked them about their interest, hobbies, goals and just life and not textbook lessons or whatnot. Since the volunteering was every Monday, I would always start off the conversation by asking how their weekends went and then follow wherever the conversation lead us to. The students always make me laugh. We always have great times. And, I think this is a great way of learning.  The students never want to stop the conversations. They always want to share their thoughts and this makes me feel great. Whenever I go to the school, they run to me to give me a hug and are always excited to talk. This has been a great opportunity as I got to immerse myself to the Spanish culture by learning these students’ daily lives in Barcelona.


Becoming an active member of the Barcelona community

Foto Sara C_BC

Sara Condon, BC'15 student
University of Colorado Boulder

Since moving to Barcelona and becoming an active member of the Barcelona community- I felt that I needed to give back and felt a great achieve this was through volunteering. I decided to volunteer at INS Ernest Lluch secondary school because I love working with other students and I felt that this would be a great way to learn more about the Spanish culture. My role at INS Ernest Lluch was to help local students, ages 14-16, with their English. On my first day of volunteering I felt nervous and didn’t know what to expect- I ended up showing up about 35 minutes early because I didn’t want to be late! However, my nerves quickly diminished the minute I started talking to the teacher that was in charge of the class I was going to volunteer with. She was incredibly nice and so grateful that I found the time in my life to help students with their learning. The students were as great as the teacher was. Everybody was so interested as to where I was from- they were very intrigued and a little bit confused when I told them I lived in the mountains (Breckenridge, CO). They were also very confused by the fact that I went to school 16 hours away from my parents and family and that I lived in a house with a bunch of my friends. I loved getting to know the students and telling them stuff about myself and where I’m from. Some of my favorite moments thus far have been when I explained that in America we eat eggs for breakfast (to which they were extremely shocked and very very confused- I suggest telling any Spaniard this and watching their reaction) and when I ask them about their thoughts and feelings about America. The responses the students provided me when I asked about America and Americans in general were that they thought it was a cool and fun places inhabited by, the like, cool and fun people. Repeating words that came up when I asked the students about America have been; hamburgers, Los Angeles, New York, Modern Family, movies and television. All in all, my experience volunteering has been an amazing one so far. I’ve not only learned a lot about the Spanish culture and the people, but I’ve also learned a lot about myself through this experience! I would recommend volunteering in some way or another to anybody that wants to contribute to the greater good of society and learn more about the culture they are living in!  




Barcelona Feeling More and More Like Home Everyday

Kaitlyn from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business has taken documenting her Barcelona experience to a whole new level with her fabulous videos she publishes every week.  Her first week in Barcelona she describes it as “absolutely incredible from the delicious paella to the beautiful Cathedrals. Every inch is unique. Cataluña’s history and culture radiates through the streets.”
Some of the things Kaityln learned her first week:
- Catalan is the closest language to Latin and 9 million people speak Catalan
- This last year marked the 300th anniversary of the loss of Cataluña’s independence from Spain
- The Sagrada Familia will not be completed until 2026, but there is speculation it actually will because 10 more towers still need to be built
- The Arc de Triomf is made from brick because it showcases what the soil is like in Catalunya
- Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos is a celebration of the Three Kings on January 5th and marks the last day of Christmas here in Spain. Check out her week 1 video:

On her third week here she explains that “Barcelona feels more and more like home every day. This week was full of exploration. We went to the greatest place of worship in the city, Camp Nou where we cheered on the beloved home team, FC Barça! Our art history class took a trip to the MNAC museum to look at Romanesque murals that are nearly 1,000 years old. We took a Picasso walking tour around Barcenoleta. We went to a rock show, danced the night away at a jazz club, shopped through Lo Boqueria, and hiked up to Tibidado.” 

Some stuff Kaitlyn says she learned this week:
-“Visca Catalunya” = Long Live Barça and Catalonia which is chanted in Camp Nou
- One of Picasso's first cubist paintings was inspired by a women in a brothel
- Els Quarte Gats is an infamous cafe where Picasso & friends used to chill.  Take a look at her week 3 video:

It may be January, but we Play Beach Volleyball Anyway!

Tyler from George Washington University is our Spring 15 “Volleyball Student Ambassador” this semester.  Tyler plays for GW’s volleyball team at home and volunteered to organize games for both CIEE and local students.  With the exception of this particularly cold week, he’s managed to organize at least one game a week!VolleyBall

Getting to Know the Host Families

Students have had several weeks to settle in to their new homes and for many of them it’s more than just a room in a new home, but it’s a chance to make new relationships and lifelong friendships.  Ibrahima from Skidmore College has really enjoyed getting to know his host mother, Piti.  He sent us a photo of the two of them just “chilling out.”Ibrahima Thiam Chilling with host mom_HFT



NEWSGo Big or Go Home!

Jonathan (Babson College) decided that he wasn’t just going to be any old American student during his semester here in Barcelona.  He joined the Barcelona Bandits Lacrosse Club and was invited to go and compete in the Spanish Cup in Bilbao!  Here he is giving it is all on the field in Bilbao.  Go Jonathan!

Jonathan LacrosseOutstanding Performance Award Given

Lila (Skidmore College) decided to spend her free time volunteering at the local high school throughout the entire semester here.  The school was so impressed with her they wanted to hire her fulltime!

She shares with us that, “Volunteering has been really great in many ways. I am able to get to know an age-group in Spain that I wouldn’t otherwise interact with (high-school students), and so it’s fun helping them with their English communication and writing skills while also getting a candid perspective about culture here in Spain. It is still so impressive to me how they are taught in three different languages (Catalan, Spanish/Castellano, and English) at school. An easy and entertaining way to help them practice their English is by answering questions they have about American culture, which most of them only know about from movies.  Also, when I first got here and was adjusting, it definitely helped me feel like I was becoming a little more a part of the Spanish community, and not just being an American student in Spain.”  Check out Lila there in the middle of her class of teenagers.

Lila ClassroomWe say goodbye to the Fall 2014 Students!

It’s been an amazing ride this semester full of ups and downs, but our students ended on an up as they finished up the semester with brunch and their re-entry session.  We met where it all began, at the orientation hotel, where student got to share their experiences, learn how to incorporate the skills they have acquired into their professional careers, and simply have the chance to say goodbye to each other.  The morning was full of smiles, stories, and tears.  Please take moment to see just a glimpse of their experience this semester in the highlights video below: