Living with American Housemates, Cristina, Barcelona native
“You’re such a brave person”. “I would have given it a second thought”. “You have a finger in every pie”… These are some of the things that my family and friends said to me when I told them that from January I was going to live with 5 American students. For the first time I would start a new phase in my life, for the first time I would become independent, I wouldn’t live with my parents for four months, I would live with 5 people from another country, I would get to know a new culture and new traditions as well as different ways of thinking.
I still remember the first time that I saw them, in the orientation hotel. We were all very nervous, excited to get to know each other and to see the new place where we would live for almost half a year. I prepared some muffins, bonbons and juices to welcome them, some sort of party for having met each other. They were really tired when they arrived, but from the very first moment we already sat all together around the living room table, we started to organize the cleaning turns and we discussed other issues in order to make the co-living easier.
The experience has been fantastic, especially for them: they have tasted a lot of traditional Spanish food and they have also learned to cook it with me! They learned new expressions and their Spanish level has improved a lot, it’s been a new experience for them to live with a Spanish girl, and everyone has grown from this experience. They even met my family! So I can say that they really enjoyed being here, they have discovered new places, traditions, habits and typical dishes… But first and foremost: they have made a good friend, and have ended up becoming a second family here.
Some of the moments will forever stay frozen in photos, but pictures are not enough to sum up this wonderful intercultural experience. I am very grateful to CIEE for this opportunity!
Competitive Strategy Field Trip, Prof. Eduardo Rodes
Last Wednesday we took a field trip to one of the hotels in the Praktik chain. They have a very interesting business model in a very competitive industry – hotels in Barcelona. They compete with accessible pricing for a medium hotel, with 50 well-situated rooms. Their main differentiating element is themed services, integrating a high-class winery and a boutique bakery. It was really interesting to see how they complemented their different business. We had a great time!
Off the Beaten Track for Spring Break
Jamie (Indiana University) - Senegal
The decision to travel to Senegal wasn’t an easy one - terrorism, kidnapping, and mugging were all common themes that came up in conversation when I told people of my Semana Santa plans. In reality, the best word to describe Senegal is not “dangerous,” but rather “colorful,” both literally and figuratively. Brightly colored fabrics adorn every corner of the cities and villages, which are bustling with merchants selling fresh fruits and with children playing soccer, with goats and cows roaming the streets and with enticing smells of rice and fish… And at every turn, we were met with “teranga” (the Wolof word for “hospitality.”)
If nothing else, my voyage taught me that Senegal – and probably much of Africa, for that matter – has a PR problem. No, Senegal is not teeming with terrorists who are staked out to capture a group of foreigners. No, it isn’t filled with men who are eager to buy wives for goats. Rather, it’s friendly, it’s energetic, and from the banks of the Gambian River to the villages atop regal mountains, it’s breathtakingly beautiful.
Jeremy (University of Wisconsin-Madison) – Atlas Mountains and Sahara Desert
My Morocco trip was an amazing trip that really opened my eyes to another part of the world. Whether it was walking around the souk, sleeping in the Sahara Desert, or driving through the villages hidden within the Atlas Mountains, I felt extremely lucky to be experiencing those moments with my friends and it made me appreciate what I have here in Barcelona and back home in the United States. It gave me motivation to continue my passion for traveling and explore other parts of the world that are off the beaten track.