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16 posts categorized "Gastronomy"


Business & Culture, Spring 2014, Issue I


The Kings Have Arrived... And so have the students!

The students arrived in Barcelona tired and jet lagged on January 2nd. We threw them immediately into a week of orientation meetings, talks and tours, but they were saved by a day off on January 6th to celebrate Kings Day and the end of the Christmas season. 

What is Kings Day? Epiphany is celebrated 12 days after Christmas and marks the day the wisemen arrived in Bethleham with their gifts. Dia de Los Reyes is as important as Christmas itself here, especially for kids, as this is the day when they get their presents! Read more about the three kings.

Students went out on Jan 5th to watch the parade with their Guardian Angels (local student guides) as the kings arrived in the city, ready to distribute their toys. Thanks to Eric, from University of Vermont for the photos! See more of his incredible photography on his blog.


Celebrating the Holiday with Host Families

A popular tradition on this day is to eat a Roscón, a sweet, donut-shaped bread. A plastic toy and a bean are buried inside the mixture. He or she who finds the toy gets good luck for the next year and is king for the day (with a crown and all), he who finds the bean, pays for the Roscon.

Asya, from Indiana University, wrote a blog post about living with a host family. On Kings Day "about 15 members of Ana's family came to her house for lunch... which lasted until dinner, where we chatted and shared the interesting differences between our home towns and Barcelona. It was awesome and kind of reminded me of Thanksgiving. Cynthia and I both got the king in our slices of the bread which was cute and exciting. And We woke up to gifts (a scarf, gloves, a book on Barcelona, and candies) from "the three kings" outside of our doors!" Read more here.

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Wildlife Sighting

While hiking up Tibidabo Mountain behind Barcelona on a CIEE Day Trip last weekend, we were greeted by 5 baby boar (javalí) searching for nuts. The boar are a common sight in the Collserola National Park, although they rarely come out during the day or that close to common paths. We were lucky to be able to see them, and even luckier that they didn't come with an angry mama!


After the hike we went to a restaurant to try calçots, a typical Catalan winter treat. Onions are roasted and then steamed, at which point it is time to get messy. The difficult part is taking off the charred exterior, and then you can dip the onion in romesco sauce and lower it into your mouth. Joe, from University of Minnesota demonstrates with skill:

BC Calcotadas


Language & Culture, Spring 2014, Issue I


Welcome to Barcelona…

Two weeks ago we welcomed the group of 14 Spring 2014 Language and Culture Students. Orientation is still going on, and as usual, activities and events have been planned throughout the semester in order to accompany our students’ learning and intercultural experiences. UPF students Júlia and Irene are acting as Guardian Angels and have been sharing thoughts, long walks, tapas, chocolate con churros and welcome events with students. On Friday, the group enjoyed a hike up Tibidabo mountain and then had a calçotada, the traditional Catalan lunch based around roasted onions (calçots) accompanied by a delicious sauce (salsa romesco) made with peppers, olive oil and nuts.

DSC_1591-001 DSC_1616…where the past is still alive…

Last week we organized a special walking tour, in order for our students to explore the Gothic Quarter and understand its significance in shaping the city’s present identity. We explained the history along with fun facts and pointed out locations where popular movies have been filmed. We also talked about legends associated to the area.

DSC_1558In Plaza Sant Jaume we revived the city’s Roman past: the square, where the Barcelona City Hall and the Seat of Catalan Government are currently located, is the exact place where the Roman Forum was located. Since Roman times, Plaza Sant Jaume has been the location of the city's political and social debates. Moreover, the two main streets – Cardus and Decumanus – crossing Barcino (the Roman name of the city) met in the square, which still preserves its Medieval atmosphere.


Another magical square is Plaza de San Felipe Neri, a hidden oasis located behind the Barcelona Cathedral. During the Medieval period, in this was a Jewish cemetery.  The square was built on the ruins of the cemetery and it bordered the edges of the Jewish quarter. Between 1721 and 1752 the baroque church that gives name to the square, the Church of San Felipe Neri, was built. During the Spanish Civil War a bombing killed 42 civilians that were seeking shelter inside the church. The façade of the church is still marked by this event. Yet, according to legend, the square was also used as an execution area. As Carlos Ruiz Zafón wrote in his bestseller novel The Shadow of the Wind: “Plaza de San Felipe Neri is like a small breathing space in the maze of streets that crisscross the Gothic quarter, hidden behind the old Roman walls. The holes left by machine-gun fire during the war pockmark the church walls. That morning a group of children played soldiers, oblivious to the memory of the stones. A young woman, her hair streaked with silver, watched them from the bench where she sat with an open book on her lap and an absent smile.” The music video of the song My Immortal by Evanescence was shot here as well.


We also explored the Born area, whose iron market building has been recently reopened and converted into a Cultural Center, where archeological sites of Barcelona as it was in the 16th century are currently displayed. The Catalan word Born means “tournament”. The Passeig del Born was precisely the place where, from the 13th to the 15th centuries, people were used to gather to observe tournaments, festivals and inquisition practices. Besides, Passeig del Born has been traditionally a popular spot for movies or tv shows (our students had a great time reproducing a scene from a film on the Passeig del Born):

Cheeta girls2…and the present is yours to create.

A semester of history and stories, languages and cultures is opened for our students to discover and live. Spanish courses, CIEE classes and HESP classes at UPF start this week, many students have already showed their interest in volunteering as English Teacher Assistants at a local high school, the first Intercambio will be held very soon. We will, of course, keep you updated. In the meantime, please, like our Facebook Page to see pictures from our activities!


Liberal Arts, Fall 2013, Issue III


It has been a wonderful semester!  We are very proud of this outstanding group of students who have been very engaged in their academic, cultural and learning experience while in Barcelona. Thanks for a great semester and we hope they keep practicing their Spanish!!!

Museo Chocolate LA 007

These are some of the last activities students did:

Hiking and Calçotada

The best evaluated daytrip among students is the hike and calçotada. LA students went to the hills of Barcelona where they hiked for 1.5 hours and then were compensated with a traditional Catalan meal: the calçotada. Students learned the skill of dipping the calçot (a kind of leek) in romesco sauce and then ate it with their hands.  They really enjoyed the day and this gastronomic adventure.



Chocolate Museum

Quijotes students attended a chocolate workshop at the Chocolate Museum of Barcelona. We had a great time and students enjoyed making different products like chocolate bars, lollipops, or bonbons using various techniques. Students showed their creativity and made funny and some extravangant shapes.

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Museo Chocolate LA 067

Re-entry Workshop

LA students participated in the Re-entry Workshop, a session dedicated to reflect on their experience studying abroad in Barcelona, to understand the re-entry process and challenges, to learn strategies for adjustment and ways to stay globally engaged and to incorporate their experience into their daily lives. One of the activities consisted in sharing their best memory of the semester forming a web between them symbolizing their interconnection. Some of the best memories of our students were related to their experience with their host family; their volunteering; or their travelling.


Advanced Liberal Arts, Fall 2013, Issue III


This week ends the classes of the CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts program in the University of Barcelona. We celebrated a wonderful term at the beginning of the week with a farewell event where we shared memories (always in Spanish!) of these past months.

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This fall, of the 31 CIEE students enrolled in UB, 55% were attending classes in the Hispanic Philology Department, 19% in Geography and History, 13 % in Law, 6% in Psychology, 4% in Economics and Business, and 3% in Fine Arts. Many of them took classes in more than one department, thus completing the academic requirements for the majors and minors of their universities and colleges. For this reason, the CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts Program has broadened its course offerings with these departments: Biology, Business, Classics, Chemistry, Economics Sciences, Education, Fine Arts, Geography, History, History of Art, Hispanic Philology, International Affairs, Law, Mathematics, Modern Language and Literatures, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology.

This variety of academic departments involves a double advantage: on the one hand, the students encounter a greater quantity of courses that satisfy their academic interests; and on the other hand, this will facilitate student integration in the host institution, since they are taking classes in departments that traditionally enroll very few US students.

In this newsletter, we have the collaboration of our students: Michaela M. Wetter (Vanderbilt University), Tahil Sharma (University of La Verne) and Sean McCarthy (University of Colorado at Boulder), who have written about their experience during this fall term.

And last but not least, I am proud to share an example of the film adaptation class exercise that some students of the CIEE course “Literature & Cinema in Spain” made as a final project, adapting the screenplay “Viaje a la luna” (Trip to the Moon), that the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca made during his time in New York in 1929-30 after having been shocked by the work of his two close friends Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí. I am sure that you will enjoy this short movie:

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Tapas with friends, dancing until dawn and Europe as my backyard, are just the beginning of my list of why my time in Barcelona this fall was absolutely remarkable. The ability to utilize my Spanish to connect with a culture so full of Catalan pride, urban energy and beach ease was incredible. With the Advanced Liberal Arts program I was able to have the independence to truly make this experience my own, travel with the program, as well as on my own, and have the opportunity take a range of classes that I was interested in. Taking classes at University of Barcelona was an enlightening experience allowing me to improve my Spanish, as well as my understanding about Catalan culture. Furthermore, the ability to live with a host family allowed me to truly feel like I lived here and was not just a visitor. I lived with a Dominican family and next to a Swedish family and although neither is from here originally, they all moved here after studying; giving me the confidence that maybe one day I could do it too.

I cannot wait to return to my new home across the Atlantic and check even more off my list.

¡Hasta pronto Barcelona!

Michaela, Vanderbilt University


The Advanced Liberal Arts Program of CIEE Barcelona gave me the opportunity to explore the heights of my linguistic ability while providing the atmosphere of acculturation and independence. Classes through the program and through the Universitat de Barcelona provided me with a greater understanding of the cultural, historical and philological contexts of a country I have never been to, including many activities and excursions that help us take a more in-depth look at the ancient and modern world. With my focus on culture, religion and language, my goals to enrich and diversify my understanding of the world were meet with numerous opportunities to expand my knowledge and experience first hand the splendor and power of some of the greatest empires. From exploring cathedrals and mosques to Sevilla and Córdoba, to walking the hills of Tibidabo and Montserrat, to mingling with locals while tapeando, the ALA program and their amazing staff have provided all the means necessary to provide the utmost comfort, academic rigorousness and fun that really made the best of my experience while abroad.

What made the problems probably most worthwhile was the addition of Guardian Angels, fellow UB students who took time of their schedules to welcome us to Barcelona. While allowing us to practice our Spanish, we ended up building friendships with them and getting to spend a lot of great time together creating memories that would last a lifetime. 

Tahil, University of La Verne, Senior - International Studies, Minors in Japanese and Spanish


Before I arrived in Barcelona I was unsure of what to expect. I had studied abroad before but I still had doubts it would be the same type of experience. Upon arriving I immediately fell in love with the city and the culture of Spain and Cataluña. After the program started I started making friends but was upset about the housing situation because most of my classmates were not staying in the residence, which is what I chose to do. The residence was empty and felt oppressive at first because of the rules they have set in place. However, CIEE Barcelona has helped give me the best experience I could have ever hoped for. I allowed time to pass to see if the residence would get better and it did. I ended up meeting some of my best friends here in Spain, including my roommate who is like a brother to me now. I wouldn’t have ever had the chance to meet and become friends with so many Spanish students if I did not live in the residence. I overheard many incidents from my classmates that they were having difficulties meeting Spanish students, so I think overall I made a great choice.

The professors from both the CIEE program and the University of Barcelona did wonderful jobs helping me resolve my problems and issues with school and my personal life. A friend of mine from the states past away in October and the staff of both institutions attempted to help me and were always there to talk to me when I was upset. They truly helped me feel welcome and cared about.    

If I could give anyone a word of advice, it would be to study abroad with CIEE. They are wonderful people who really do care for the well being of their students. They also provided amazing resources to help us make the best out of our experiences.

Sean, University of Colorado at Boulder

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Vegetarian in the land of ham

HannaName: Hanna
CIEE Barcelona Program:
Language & Culture
Spring 2012
Home School
: St. Catherine University

Two of my biggest fears prior to my study abroad experience had to do with (believe it or not) food. Since I have been a vegetarian for 9 years, I was worried that:

  1. I wouldn’t be able to eat anything in Barcelona because it is a city that is well known for meat products.
  2. My host family would be insulted if I didn’t eat meat if they prepared it for me.

Since my stay in Barcelona, I have found out that my initial fears regarding food were wrong. I live in Gràcia with my host father, Ramon, and my host sister, Roso. Ramon is an artist who in his 50’s and Roso is a senior in college and is 23. From day one, they have been incredibly hospitable and do everything they can to make me feel comfortable in their home -when I first arrived to my homestay, one of the very first things that they asked me was what I wanted for breakfast the next day!

Ramon and Roso are vegetarians (although they do occasionally eat some meats and fish), which was a relief for me. My host family is also very ecofriendly and prepares meals similar to what I would eat at home with a Catalan twist. I haven’t had a meal with them that I did not like! I have even been given the opportunity to help my family prepare traditional Catalan foods like “pan con tomate” (bread with tomatoes, olive oil, and salt) that I would never have tried if I hadn’t choosen to live with a host family.

Hanna1Today for lunch we had a mixture of cooked and spiced vegetables with “avena” (a type of oats, but they look and taste similar to brown rice) and lentils.

Hanna2 Hanna4
Although I eat the majority of meals with my host family, I have also had the chance to explore some of the many restaurants and markets in the city.  In addition to regular supermarkets, Gràcia is the home to many ecomarkets that sell organic, fair trade, and vegetarian/vegan foods (similar to Whole Foods in the states but much smaller and independent stores). I love shopping for groceries and snacks at these locations. My favorite ecomarket is called Boca Bio, which is located off of Carrer d'Astúries in Gràcia.

Through this experience I have learned not to set expectations for something without experiencing it first.  Initially, I had expected to have a difficult time finding foods to satisfy my vegetarian diet in Barcelona, however now that I am here that is not the case at all. I am excited to bring a little of Catalunya back home with me to the United States by preparing foods like pan con tomate for my family!



MackenzieName: Mackenzie
CIEE Barcelona Program: Business & Culture
Semester: Spring 2012
Home School: Drake University

I had debated for a while whether or not it would be wise to do a home stay over a residencia while I was in Barcelona.  For those of you who are unsure what is what a home stay is when you live with a local Spanish family and a residencia is when you live on your own in a dorm-like building with other students in the program and some local students as well.  I ended up deciding to do the home stay for a multitude of reasons.  One it was a little bit cheaper because I wouldn’t have to provide all my own meals like I would in a residencia.  Secondly I would get to interact with someone who lives here in Spain and learn more about the culture and the language.  I’ve only been here a week, but I can already tell you I made the right decision.

I live with an older Spanish woman named Luisa, another student from CIEE named Lauren, and another exchange student from Brazil who is here until February.  Luisa is absolutely adorable!  Every day she makes the three of us staying here two meals a day: breakfast and dinner.  And let me just say she is a fabulous cook.  She makes us authentic Spanish food, which is a lot different then in the US, but it is absolutely delicious! 

Breakfast is usually some sort of bread.  It’s a very small meal here, which is a change for me as breakfast is one of my favorite meals.  My favorite breakfast we had so far was a couple small muffins, or molletes as they are called in Spanish.  Another one we had was croissant that we dipped in chocolate.  Many breakfast dishes are served with chocolate which is quite unusual for me.  However, the dinners that Luisa makes are my favorite.  Everything is homemade and always fresh.  The first night here we had tortilla patata, which is basically a potato omelet.  It was delicious!  Another night we had some sort of black bean dish.  I can’t recall the name of it right now, but since I normally don’t like beans, I didn’t think I would like it, but it turned out to be one of my favorite meals I’ve had here so far.  Luisa always serves the three of us staying here first and washes dishes while we eat.  I believe she eats after us, but I am not quite sure to be honest.  Even though she doesn’t sit at the table with us, she still talks to us and asks us questions about the day. 

I’ve only been here a week, but already my Spanish has improved with Luisa’s help.  Every time I make a mistake, she corrects me so that I learn.  And if there are misunderstandings, which there are occasionally, she pulls out her Spanish to English dictionary and shows us what word she was saying and vice versa so that we learn new vocabulary every day.  Felipe who is here from Brazil also speaks Spanish with us.  However, he is also fluent in English.  So when we don’t understand what Luisa has said, he will translate for us which has been really helpful.  My goal is to not have him translating for us anymore before he leaves in February… I think I can do it.

I think the home stay option will be a great thing for me.  It’s hard at first because all the people in the residencias have instant friends because they all live together.   You feel a little isolated.  However, in the end I am going to be able to gain a better understanding of the culture and learn the language a lot better.  I’m excited to see how much my Spanish will improve while I am here. :)

Mackenzie1This is my family I am living with in Spain. From left to right is me, then Lauren who is in CIEE as well, then Felipe who is from Brazil, and finally my Senora Luisa.

You can follow Mackenzie's blog here!


For further reading, we've had lots of great blogs submitted about homestays, here are some links to past posts: