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28 posts categorized "Local Culture"


Having fun with my new friends! by Marta Delgado

I have shared lots of good moments with the girls of my apartment Sydney, Erica and Margaret since their arrival to Barcelona. We shared panellets and chestnuts during the typical festivity of la Castañada in Cataluña.

We have done other things together: we shared moments in the kitchen preparing delicious food and having lunch or dinner together in the apartment. We also like going to eat tapas together and to try new things. 

What we like doing the most is sharing moments when we are together at home having a tea or an ice-cream.

I hope they feel as if they were at home.



Living with my US flatmates! By Sergi Velasco

It was a Friday night and Liron, Ben and I decided to cook something homemade together for dinner. But we are not professional chefs, and what we knew best was “typical and topical student food”, so we got ready to cook the typical Student meal. J

We went to the supermarket to buy the ingredients, we put some background music to cook and we did some ¡¡TACOS!! It was very fun and the truth is that the tacos were really good.

3During the month of November, in the apartment we have organized some movie sessions with the Halloween theme. We prepared ourselves properly: we put some popcorn in the microwave, we fixed the technical difficulties with the computer, we closed the lights and action!

The first movie that we saw was Halloweentown, a horror movie which is a classic in the USA.  After that we saw the movie Los Otros, by Alejandro Amenábar, which is a horror and mystery movie.





Spanish Dinner in our Flat! By Javier Marban


On September 27th, our Flat buddie Javier organized a Spanish dinner with typical Spanish dishes in the apartment with his flat mates Elliot, Brandon and Jack. In the dinner there were well-known homemade Spanish dishes. CIEE students knew most of them: Paella, Canelones, Tortilla de patatas, Arroz con leche and Pà amb tomàquet

There were some additional typical Spanish products like Chorizo and Queso Manchego


Even though the typical national dishes are already internationally well-known, other products like chorizo or queso were completely unknown for the students, and of course they had a great welcoming! In the dinner there were more students of the CIEE program (students from other apartment).





This term, we have incorporated a new initiative for the Advanced Liberal Arts program that has opened up an interesting and unique interaction between the students and the professors of the program: la Semana Cultural. During these days, the CIEE cultural courses changed their format and hours, and were open to all of the students of the ALA program. The classes were unleashed from the confines of the classrooms of our Study Center, to explore different corners of the city.

For example, the professor of the course “El Quijote, de Cervantes” did a walking tour called “La Barcelona del Quijote” which allowed all students (not only those that are enrolled in the course, but all students who were interested) to walk through some locations and buildings of Barcelona in which Cervantes imagined Don Quijote, considering that many of these places still exist in the city. The students not only enjoyed this extraordinary opportunity to walk into one of the most important books in the history of universal literature, but they also commemorated the 400th year of the death of Cervantes (the 22nd of April, 1616) and the 400th year anniversary of the publication of the second part of Don Quijote de La Mancha.

La Semana Cultural was kicked off with a very beautiful inauguration: the conference/concert of the guitarist, composer and professor from the Music Conservatory of Barcelona, Joan Furió. This extraordinary musician titled his concert “España y la guitarra” (Spain and the guitar"), and while he explained to all those present the evolution of this instrument through the centuries, he played pieces of music by well known composers live.

Dr. Enrique Campomanes, professor of the “Contemporary Spain” course, had a lecture about the origin of the feeling of sovereignty in Catalunya, and on another day, he brought the students to the Parliament of Catalunya, an institution whose origin can be traced back to the 11th century; Dr. Laura Casal, professor of the “Masterworks of Catalonian Art” course guided our students through the Real Academia Catalana de Bellas Arts, one of the most emblematic buildings of the history of Catalan art of which have passed many important artists like Pablo Picasso; a visit to the Air Raid shelter from the Spanish Civil War, a tour through the Roman Barcelona, watching the movie “Julieta” (the latest movie by the Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar) completes the list of the activities of this Semana Cultural which had, as a grand finale, a wine tasting in the terraces of our Study Center on a beautiful spring day in the city.

There is nothing better to understand a place than through its culture. Our students have the opportunity to experience this first hand. 


Cultural I

Guitarist and composer Joan Furió during his recital


Kate, Tufts University

Semana Cultural embodies the idea of “active education”. For one week, our CIEE professors organized field trips outside of the traditional classroom setting to  experience, to explore, to be engaged. For me, Semana Cultural reinforced the idea that learning does not only happen in the classroom; learning, especially in Barcelona, happens everywhere.  

Semana Cultural allowed us the opportunity to even further immerse ourselves in Spanish and Catalan culture and history and as study abroad students, it is important for us to not only be exposed to different cultures, but to absorb them as well. Because after all, we students are not tourists of Barcelona; Barcelona has become our home.


Cultural II

Zoë (Vanderbilt University), Eva (Barnard College), Deborah  (Kenyon College), Brandon (Vanderbilt University) and Maia  (Fordham University)


Cultural IIIAmanda (Yale University), Kate (Tufts University) and Charlie (Vanderbilt University)




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


Liberal Arts, Spring 2014, Issue III


Our semester is coming to an end. The students have enjoyed their stay in Barcelona and we hope that they have gained intercultural knowledge after spending four months living in a different culture. We wish them a safe return home and many trips back to Barcelona in the future! Here you have some of the latest activities we've been doing with them:

Chocolate creations for Easter

One of our delicious traditions in Catalonia is the “mona” a chocolate cake creation that godparents give to their godchildren for easter. Nowadays, the cake is made into many different chocolate sculptures... from SpongeBob Squarepants, Disney characters and Justin Beiber to Barça football players. Chocolate makers display their "monas" in the windows of their shop during the Easter week and try to outshine each other with sheer creativity and inventiveness. Our students participated in a Chocolate Workshop at the Chocolate Museum of Barcelona where they made chocolate lollipops. They demonstrated their high creativity and were able to eat all the chocolate they wanted! After that, they visited the museum and were able to admire all the giant monas such as a representation of Guernica by Picasso, or la Sagrada Familia.

Actualizado recientemente

LA Museo chocolate

Language Assessment

Starting last semester we have incorporated a new method of assessing students' language progress during their study abroad experience. They take a Spanish placement test before coming and another one a week before leaving. The results should be able to give us a better understanding of students' language outcomes.

Watching a Barça-Madrid game with locals

Club Quijotes students went to local bars around the city to watch the most important Spanish football game of the season: “El Clásico” between Barcelona and Madrid teams. The idea is to experience the game along with Spaniards in a local environment. Caitlin from University of Iowa said: “I loved to see the football culture in a bar during a game. Go Barça!!"

LA partido Barça-MadridHost family ties

One of the most enriching experiences while abroad is to live with a host family. Bridget from University of Iowa was shocked when her host family prepared a special birthday dinner for her. She wrote for our blog: “When I saw everything they did for me I thought, my host family really has become my family in Barcelona. Despite being far from my home, I realized their house is a place where I can be in good company and enjoy life with these people that I can call my family.” You can read about her special day here: Mi Feliz Cumpleaños.



Name: Hilary
CIEE Barcelona Program:
Liberal Arts
Spring 2014
Home School
: Vanderbilt University

Durante mi tiempo en Barcelona, he tenido muchas experiencias nuevas y divertidas que voy a recordar para el resto de mi vida. Un recuerdo que es muy bonito para mi es cuando mi programa y yo fuimos a una caminata a las colinas de Barcelona y después tuvimos una comida tradicional catalana. Este viaje fue el primer viaje con mi programa nuevo y con las personas que no conocía muy bien. Fue una oportunidad para conocer mi programa mejor y formar amistades duraderas.


Primero, caminamos durante una hora y media al punto más alta de la colina y vimos una vista espectacular. Me quedé muy sorprendida por la belleza de Barcelona y de la capacidad de ver vistas hermosas tan cerca de mi casa en Barcelona. Conecté con la gente de mi programa mientras caminábamos por la colina hasta el restaurante catalán.

Quijotes2Cuando llegamos al restaurante, nos sentamos en una mesa larga en una habitación que tenía una vista espectacular de Barcelona. Los dueños del restaurante trajeron enormes cantidades de comida a nuestra mesa y muchos porrones con vino. Teníamos que aprender a verter el vino para apuntar a la boca en lugar de a la ropa. Fue una experiencia muy divertida y todos se rieron mientras tratábamos de dominar los porrones.

Quijotes3 El primer plato era los calçots que son como una cebolla a la parilla y son delicioso. El próximo plato era un plato grande de carne que incluye cordero, varios tipos de embutidos y carne de res. Nuestro postre era la famosa crema catalana hecha con yema de huevo, leche y azúcar. Todos estábamos llenos al final de la comida y listo para ir a casa a dormir una siesta. ¡Fue una experiencia magnifica en Barcelona!


El sur de España: Sevilla, Córdoba y Granada

Name: Lena
CIEE Barcelona Program:
Architecture & Design
Spring 2014
Home School
: University of Colorado Boulder

 Southern Spain was absolutely gorgeous. I traveled to Seville on Friday, Cordova on Saturday, a modern section of Seville on Sunday morning, and Granada until Monday. 


After we dropped our bags off at Fernando III (our hotel) we met up with a Guardian angel from CIEE, Seville. She showed us around a few sites including the Seville CIEE study center, Placa España, the University of Seville, and a walking tour of the city.

Lena1Seville used to be the capital of Spain, way back when. Catedral de Sevilla was enormous; in fact it is the third largest in the world! We climbed to the top of the bell tower and were welcomed with a breathtaking, 360-degree view of the city. Christopher Columbus's tomb is there, so neat! His burial place is located in this cathedral because he sailed from Seville in 1492! Lenanew
Lena3Outside here the building was lined with horse and chariots. There were horses all around the city, it was so cool.


Probably the most impressive thing to see here was Placa España. There were canals running around a semicircle of walkways filled with columns. This building was extremely colorful. I loved it!



Early Saturday morning we took a 1.5 hour bus ride to Cordoba, east of Seville. This city was very prosperous during the Middle Ages and was at one point the largest city in the world!  We saw the Córdoba Mezquita in which encompassed Catedral de Córdoba —a famous mosque, absolutely incredible. The mosque was very well preserved with the addition of a cathedral inside! There were 1000 columns in the mosque originally, where as the cathedral knocked down 150. Surprisingly, with the Catholics help, the mosque was in close to perfect condition. Unfortunately we had a tour guide that rushed us through the entire thing, but I made sure to take some good shots-of course!

  Lena-6Afterwards we saw a synagogue and had lunch. We made sure to get some typical dishes from Cordoba, such as a battered eggplant with honey- Berenjena Con Miel. I feel very fortunate to go to Cordoba. I feel like it is a city in which I would have never visited if CIEE did not take me. I am so happy I went!

On the way back to Seville we stopped by Madinat al-Zahra, a modern archeology study and museum. After exploring the building and its artifacts we took a bus to another site in which had mosques that were built a few hundred years after the ones in Cordoba. In contrast, these were not preserved at all! Lena16
At 6 o’clock we took a bus back to Seville. Next on our agenda was watching a flamenco show. It was absolutely incredible. The dancers feet moved so fast as if they were vibrating!Lena8

I finished my day with my friends eating some tapas, some of the best I have had! Southern Spain is known for their goat cheese. This only made me more excited for the tapas in Granada!


The following morning we had a Contemporary architecture tour of Seville. We saw this super modern sculpture/building that looked like a giant waffle! Its purpose was to hold and display roman ruins on the bottom floor and if you took an elevator up you were able to walk over the sculpture, with a view of the city and cathedral especially. This building was super curved, which I loved, of course!!! Lena9On Sunday afternoon, 5 of my classmates from the architecture and design program joined me on a trip to Granada. Sadly we had backtracked from being in Cordova the day before. This city was a 3-hour bus ride northeast. The bus was super easy to find!

Our hostel there was really cool, hostel Vita. The gentleman working the front desk was really nice and took us to a great tapas place. In Granada every drink you buy you receive a tapa, ranging from 1.5-2 euro, a great deal! The idea of a drink with food came from King Alfonso X (the name of my metro stop!) He made a law that with every drink a person would buy at a restaurant they would receive food. Granada keeps this tradition, which I absolutely loved! The drink of southern Spain is called Tinto de Verano -a mix of fizzy water with wine. This is the drink of the south in oppose of Kalimotxo where they mix coke with wine (gross)!

We went back early to our hostel in order to get a good nights rest before the Alhambra.


The Alhambra. I was so excited for this, I have learned about it countless times since freshman year in my architecture classes! My friend and I had tickets to the palace at 2. God was it amazing! The details on the walls are absolutely remarkable. When I got to the fountain of lions I literally started crying. I just could not believe I was there!!!!Lena10Throughout the palace and Alhambra site there were breathtaking views of the city. All of the houses were white stucco with tiled roofs. It made me really feel like I was in Spain! After the palace my friend and I enjoyed exploring the gardens. The coolest thing we had witnessed was the water stairway; the way in which they moved water around the site was incredible. The gardens were spectacular.Lena11Afterwards, around 6, my friend Meg and I went to the Catedral de Granada. This is the most unique cathedral I have seen yet. Everything in there was white! I would imagine it was to match the city.Lena12

Subsequently we met up with our other classmates and went on a quest to see the caves with gypsies in them--in the mountains. Unfortunately we did not find the caves but we were welcomed with more breathtaking views, especially during sunset. It was cool exploring the neighborhoods.


When we were finished with this adventure we were starving and went to go get tapas, of course! We went to Babel in which it was all our outright favorite; it had 20 options of tapas to choose from, in oppose to the night before where there was an assigned tapa for the drink you got.  The food here was absolutely amazing and such big portions! 

All in all this was by far the best weekend of my life, especially considering my major. Spain has so much to offer!


Santa Eulalia Festival: Castellers

Name: Bodie
CIEE Barcelona Program: Global Architecture & Design
Semester: Spring 2014
Home School: University of Colorado Boulder

Time has flown by! With a month under my belt I still feel like I have barely scratched the surface of this amazing place. The past few weekends I stayed in the city and really tried to get to know it better.

Last weekend was a holiday celebrating Santa Eulalia, the patron saint of the city. To celebrate the city had a festival in the old district. There were a number of events, but the most notable was the Castellers, which is the Catalan sport of making human towers. It was amazing; citizens crowded tightly into the main square to try to get a good view of the event. Looking around at the people, however, I couldn't see anyone that looked like they were part of the sport. Then I noticed everyone was turning their heads to look at the back of the square. Sure enough, people in matching red shirts and white pants slowly started to make a single tower. As they began to climb another group from their team ran through the crowd to clear a path. Once the tower was completed with a large group as the trunk and three more people standing on top of each other, the group walked together towards the front.

After all of the teams entered in the same manner, the competition began. Each team presented a different formation of a tower, with different heights and different numbers of people in each 'level'. The scoring system is based on the difficulty of the formations. It was truly an incredible sight. We were just at the base of one of the teams. I could see the faces of the competitors, their eyes focused hard as the weight sank in with each additional person.

Every attempt was a success, but there were times when the towers were shaking and swaying under the weight. The most amazing part is that the tallest level is done by small children. Once the tower is constructed, mostly of young adults, children of 6-10 years old start climbing on the backs of their teammates, ascending to the top. To signify the completion of the tower, the children wave to the mayor of the city, who is watching from his 2nd story balcony.




Check out more of Bodie's incredible photos here: