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97 posts categorized "Language and Culture"




Fall semester has come to its end. We wish our students have had an enriching cultural experience studying abroad in Barcelona. These are some of the last activities they have done.

Spanish Mosaics: from Seville to Barcelona

At the CIEE course Catalonia and Spain Through the Arts, students need to do three visual essays, as one of the most important aspects for the art knowledge is observation and visual relation skills. Natalia from University of Scranton chose mosaics. She compared the straight lined, predictive patterns of mosaics such as those found in Sevilla with the ceramic, broken, and seemingly random patterns of Gaudi found across Barcelona.

Joshua from Vanderbilt University did his visual essay about arches comparing their practicality with their aesthetics.



Cultural learning through volunteering

Sara Carta Wagman

Sara from Vanderbilt University with her group of students at Escola Pía


Sara from St. Catherine University volunteering with middle schoolers

A total of five students from the Language and Culture Program volunteered at a local high school, Escola Pía, as English teacher assistants. They helped local students to improve their English with conversational sessions where they led debates related to the cultural differences between Spain and United States. 

Sara from Vanderbilt University commented: “Students are all so engaged in our discussions with topics that range from Spanish politics, music festivals in Barcelona, the upcoming US election, fútbol, traveling the world, and so much more! It has been such a great experience overall, and I would recommend it to anyone!

Sarah from Catherine University said: “The thing that I have liked the best is being able to learn about the culture here in Barcelona through the perspective of students.”

Jasmine from University of Iowa also said: “The students were very welcoming and friendly and I was often surprised at how deep the conversation can go for individuals that I had not known an hour before. I would highly recommend to any incoming students.”

Weekend trip: going south

02 LC+AD+EC Sevilla

LC students enjoyed the weekend trip to Sevilla and Córdoba. In Sevilla we visited the cathedral with its famous mudejar tower, La Giralda, we toured the old Jewish center, Santa Cruz neighborhood, and the Reales Alcázares (Royal Palaces) scenario of some Game of Thrones episodes! In Córdoba, apart from visiting the Mosque-Cathedral and the old town, students got to enjoy the local traditional tapas: flamenquín, salmorejo and fried eggplants with honey.


Language + Culture, Spring 2016, Newsletter II


We have already passed the mid-semester! Language and Culture students have been very busy with classes, cultural activities, and doing sports. Find here some details.

A novel scenario visit: Spanish Civil War bomb shelter

Refugi 1

Refugi 3

Students at the CIEE course Literary Images of Catalonia and Spain are reading the novel The Time of the Doves written by the Catalan writer Mercè Rodoreda. The novel is set in Barcelona before, during and after the Spanish Civil war and pictures a young woman's struggles in life. Students went to visit one of city’s bomb shelter build by locals during the wartime, to see in firsthand one of the novel scenarios. 

Carly form Cornell University commented on the visit: “I found it very interesting to learn about how Barcelona residents coped with wartime struggles firsthand”

Picasso´s Barcelona


As part of our study center activities, we offer a tour of the importance of Picasso´s Barcelona. This tour focused on his formative years in Spain - that is, his first artistic steps, his academic education, his inspirations and of course, the influences of Barcelona and its bohemian circles at the turn of the 20th century. A lesser known side of Picasso became visible, showing how the city left its mark in his work as well as how he left his mark in the Catalan capital. 

Christina from Elon University; Daniel from University of Colorado Boulder and Sydney Duettra from Texas Christian University participated in the tour and they even went to the famous restaurant 4 Gats where Picasso used to expose his paintings. 

Master Zumba Class!


To keep students moving we offered them to join a Master Zumba class in a local gym. Some of our students participated in this activity with one of our Spanish Guardian Angels. They had a lot of fun and it was a good activity for group bounding!




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

Here there are some details:

Orientation, city tours and the Three Wise Men Parade

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

Orientation 5 Spring2016, Newsletter I LA2

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

Use your Spanish in context

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

Spring2016, Newsletter I LA

Language Exchange Event

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

Spring2016, Newsletter I LA1




Bienvenidos, Welcome to Barcelona!

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

Foto portada

Welcome to Pompeu Fabra University

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

Newsletter I LC1

What is your goal studying abroad?

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

Newsletter I LC

Visit to the Roman town of Tarragona

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

Newsletter I LC2





Fall semester has come to its end. These are some of the last activities they have done.

When eating with your hands is a must!

One of the most popular day trips is our hike to the Barcelona hills, Collserola,  and the traditional Catalan lunch, Calçotada, where they eat Calçots, a variety of green onions.  Calçots are barbecued and dipped in romesco sauce and are accompanied by pieces of meat and roasted bread slices. Calçots are eaten with your hands and you need to wear a bib. Students had a lot of fun with that!

Newsletter III LC2

A War Chronicle for a literary final project   

At the CIEE class Literary Images of Catalonia and Spain, students had to do a research or creative paper as their final project about what they have learned in the class. Alexandra (Ally) from Elon University did a War Chronicle: “The Diary of a Spanish Civil War” after visiting a famous photographer exhibit about the Spanish Civil War, Carlos Pérez de Rozas.  Here it is her project!

Newsletter III LC  

It´s time to say goodbye!

Language and Culture students enjoyed our Farewell party where they had the opportunity to say goodbye to their fellow students, CIEE staff, professors and guardian angels. During the party, we gave the prizes for our Study Center Photo Contest.  We wish them all the best in their future and we hope they had an enriching cultural experience while in Barcelona!

Newsletter III LC3




Visual Essay Assignment

One of the most important aspects for the art knowledge is observation and visual relation skills. The camera is a usual tool for the art historians to comprehend, document and explain. In order to reach this goal, students must do a continuous work during the field trips to elaborate and post, afterwards, three visual essays. This is what Grant from Vanderbilt University did: “Each note of European currency reflects a different art style of though history. Barcelona hosts a multitude of architectural exemplars for each of these art styles. The pictures feature a Barcelona building in addition to the corresponding Euro note.”

Abby from Cornell University title her assignment “Looking through the glass” as she captured glass work and reflections in Barcelona buildings.



Game of Thrones scenarios

LC students enjoyed the weekend trip to Sevilla and Córdoba. In Sevilla we visited the cathedral with its famous mudejar tower, La Giralda, we toured the old Jewish center, Santa Cruz neighborhood, and the Reales Alcázares (Royal Palaces), the scenario of the Water Gardens of Dorne, in Game of Thrones! In Córdoba, apart from visiting  the Mosque-Cathedral and the old town, students got to enjoy the local traditional tapas: flamenquín, salmorejo and fried eggplants with honey.

See the video about the trip

 The Block of the Discord

LC students at the CIEE course Past and Present in Barcelona had to choose four Modernista  buildings and make a comparison between them. They had to present a video and do an oral presentation in class. This is the project presented by Grant and Angelique from Elon University, Debora from Northeastern University and Abby from Cornell University about the Block of the Discord in Barcelona.




Bienvenidos, Welcome to Barcelona!

Language and Culture Program students have already been in Barcelona for a month and they have already done a lot of activities! We held orientation; they participated in tours and excursions; visited the Guadí Park Güell with their Guardian Angels; attended the host institution Pompeu Fabra (UPF) Welcome session; and started their UPF and CIEE classes. Here there are some details:

Foto portada

Exploring Barcelona with Guardian Angels

 Guardian Angels (GA) are local students who help our students to get familiarized with the city, they accompany them, participate with them in cultural activities and incorporate them in the society.  LC students already shared a Tapas Night with their GA´s and toured the host institution Pompeu Fabra.

Park Güell con GA

Biblioteca UPFHow to get immersed: soccer, castellers, cook and taste!

Students were able to choose between several day trips around Catalonia with the rest of Barcelona CIEE students. They have been also participating in several cultural activities to immerse with locals and to better understand cultural aspects such as a Picasso tour, a casteller practice, or soccer matches with Spanish students.


Don Quixote, first edition: 1506

LC students taking the CIEE course: Literary Images of Catalonia and Spain did an onsite class at the Catalonia Library. There, they saw the first edition of the Don Quixote by Cervantes dated on 1506 ! and had a tour of the Library. 

Sala Cervantina_web





Our spring semester has come to its end. Students have learned and enjoyed their stay in Barcelona and we hope they have gained intercultural knowledge after four months of living in a different culture. We wish them a good and safe return home!  Here you have some of the last activities they did. 

Students get inspiration through Service Learning


At the re-entry workshop students were asked to share their best memory of their study abroad experience. Several students assured it was their service learning/community engagement activity they did as part of their CIEE Advanced Grammar, Composition and Conversation II class.

Kata from Vanderbilt University brought her guitar and sang songs with the 3rd and 5th graders; Kyle from University of Wisconsin-Madison did an oral presentation about Prom for 4th graders (children enjoyed it a lot!); Bianca from Rice University and Tian from Barnard College read and sang “The Wheels of the Bus” with 4-5 years old kindergarten; Joseph from Vanderbilt did an oral presentation about American Football with 5th graders, among others. Children were thrilled and they were very interested in asking questions about the American society.

After their volunteering students interviewed the school principal and the Academic Committee to learn about the educational system and compare it to the American one.

Chocolate Easter Traditions

La3One of our delicious traditions in Catalonia is the “mona”, a cake with some chocolate eggs to decorate that godfathers give to their godsons and goddaughters for Easter. Nowadays, that cake has turned into any kind of chocolate figure, from SpongeBob, all Disney characters to Barça football players. Our students participated in a Chocolate Workshop at the Chocolate Museum of Barcelona where they made all kind of different lollipops. They demonstrated their high creativity and had all the chocolate they wanted!!! After that, they visited the museum and were able to admire all the big chocolate statues such as a representation of Guernica by Picasso, or la Sagrada Familia.

Blogging in Spanish

Several students of the Quijotes Club wrote an entry for our blog in Spanish! They shared their study abroad experience such as their weekend trip to Sevilla and Córdoba, day trip to Girona or a volunteer experience serving food in a Raval’s neighbourhood soup kitchen or in the Barcelona Marathon. Find their posts here




I am who I am because of who we all are

By volunteering at a local high school as English Teacher Assistants, LC students had the opportunity of understanding local culture, while reflecting on their own cultural assumptions and values from a new perspective. Whitney (from Rutgers University) and Frances (from Fordham University) are active members of a non-profit U.S. based student organization, Them Cloud Kids (TCK) whose mission is to Unite, Uplift and Empower through Ubuntu, a South African ideology based on human kindness. TCK aims to advocate anti-bullying, conflict resolution, and self-esteem, to embody Ubuntu into our everyday lives in order to create a positive and open-minded society and to integrate people from various racial, cultural and religious backgrounds to come together as one community. As part of their volunteering work, Whitney and Frances proposed, organized and hosted an event – Cloud Out Loud – at the CIEE Barcelona Study Center on March, 13th in order to share the Ubuntu philosophy and open a space for CIEE students to reflect on the importance of volunteering. The event was a success: 15 students from all of our program attended and showcased their talents through live performances and donations of books and school supplies for local high schools. Artworks by high school students decorated the wall of the room where the event was held. We are greatly thankful for the joy, commitment and generosity LC students dedicated to our community.


A video of the Cloud Out Loud event

Students enrolled in our Catalonia and Spain through the Arts class participated in a three sessions workshop on Art Collection, Art Exhibition and Art Criticism with enthusiasm, creativity and intellectual curiosity, working in groups and learning together. As a result, each group submitted a series of articles on the workshop topics.

Carolyn from Fordham University and Aryanna from Northeastern University practiced art criticism through the exhibition Sophie Calle. Modus Vivendi at La Virreina Art Center:

«The artist was sent a letter by her boyfriend at the time who intended to break up with her. Calle used the letter and asked 107 female artists to create their own representation. With videos, cooking lessons, dance, photographs, poems, we see the displacement of memory and perception come to life. Calle explores how our current perceptions are colored by our experiences and our selective memories from those experiences. Our memories illustrate not only what we remember, but how we remember it».

Sophie CalleInstallation Take Care of Yourself by Sophie Calle

 Erik and Chris from Vanderbilt University interpreted Rambla Catalunya as an art collection itself:

«Rambla Catalunya is an excellent place to witness and learn about the Modernisme art movement that is unique to Catalonia.  Many buildings in the Rambla Catalunya area, while not quite as recognizable and historic as Modernisme masterpieces such as Sagrada Familia or Hospital de Sant Pau, feature elements that are very typical of this historic movement. The curve is very typical of the Modernisme movement because it is a shape that appears in life so frequently as opposed to perfect squares and rectangles that are found in many other buildings».


Lastly, Nicole and Alayna from University of Colorado Boulder explored art exhibition formats through Sebal Variations at the Barcelona Center for Contemporary Culture:

«The experience begins when you initially walk in to the vast hall. The observer is greeted by 30,000 black butterflies, each one cutout of construction paper by Carlos Amorales and his team of craftsmen. It is ironic that the exhibition begins with the overwhelming morbid display of butterflies, flying around the walls, swelling and twisting together, due to their terminate symbolic meaning. The focus of the exhibition, the many works inspired by Sebald’s written pieces, emphasize the incredibly varying nature of art. One work in particular that encompassed this notion of infinite interpretation was the unique autobiography displayed on silk cloth by Jeremy Wood. Inspired by Sebald’s ideas about reflection of the self, Wood tracked himself through London over a 15 year period using a GPS. He then displayed this maze of steps on a black piece of silk».

Sebald 1Carlos Amorales’ butterflies

Sebald 2Jeremy Wood’s The Ghost

 This Spring 2015 semester has been a wonderful journey, through encounters and experiences, learning opportunities and special moments. A semester of Spanish language(s) and culture(s).



Name: Elisa
CIEE Barcelona Program: Liberal Arts
Semester: Spring 2015
Home School: Carnegie Mellon University
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Uno de los mejores fines de semana que he tenido aquí en España ha sido uno lleno de aventura, servicio, inspiración y por supuesto un poco de cava. No esperaba tener una experiencia tan increíble durante mi semestre estudiando en Barcelona.

El fin de semana comenzó en el barrio del Raval donde ayudé como una voluntaria en una iglesia organizando y preparando comida para gente pobre o desempleada. No sabía qué esperar y tengo que admitir que estaba un poco nerviosa. Entré en la iglesia y cada voluntario que conocí era un miembro de la comunidad apasionado y listo para llevar a cabo las comidas donadas. El proceso estuvo bien organizado y fue eficiente. Ayudé a clasificar panes y manzanas, preparar mesas y agua. No puedo expresar lo increíble que fue la experiencia. No sabía que hubiera empresas que donan tanta comida por estas causas y que podría ser tan eficientes. Verdaderamente me gustó y aprecié esta oportunidad.11084578_10152874344891925_1557005666_n copy

Al día siguiente tomé un autobús a la fábrica de cava Cordoniu. Aprendí todo el proceso para crear cava y la historia de la familia Cordoniu y sus negocios. No sólo estuve impresionada y sorprendida por el proceso complicado pero también los sótanos vastos llenos de miles y quizá millones de botellas. Además pude probar unos tipos de cava que nunca he probado. Los hermosos viñedos y la degustación exquisita de cava hizo la visita agradable.

El mismo día después de tomar sorbos de cava nos llevaron a Montserrat. Las vistas fueron diferente de todas las que he visto. Estaba asombrada de la hermosa Basílica y el monasterio que estaba ubicado entre dos grandes formaciones rocosas. Subimos a los miradores panorámicos y vi lo preciosa que era Cataluña.11079268_10152874340176925_1883436786_n copy

11081417_10152874344856925_786369651_n copyDespués de un largo día de senderismo y una buena noche de sueño, me levanté temprano para ser voluntaria durante la maratón de Barcelona. Después de recibir mi camiseta oficial de voluntaria de la maratón, chaqueta y bolsa con comida, ayudé a destapar alrededor de 100 o quizás más botellas de agua. Fue increíble ver a los primeros corredores volar enfrente de nosotros, delante de la manada de gente pero aún estuve más sorprendida de ver a cientos y cientos de corredores llegar a la meta. No sólo fue un espectáculo maravilloso, sino también una inspiración.

Con un gran comienzo y final este fin de semana largo, puedo decir con confianza, que ha sido uno de mis favoritos aquí en Barcelona. Espero recordar siempre estas experiencias y disfrutar el resto de mi tiempo aquí.