(CIEE ALA and UB students in the streets of Barcelona)
End of the term
Owen, Reed College
I will always remember my semester abroad with CIEE in Barcelona as a time of great personal growth. As a study abroad experience, having to overcome the challenge of adapting to a whole new culture comes with the territory. But in addition to that, having to conduct my personal and academic lives in a second language (and sometimes even a little of a third) proved to be a significant complicating factor at first. During my first few weeks of classes at the University of Barcelona, I’d leave each class deeply concerned that I wouldn’t be able to pass the classes because I couldn’t understand the professors. However insurmountable it all appeared at first, I discovered that with time came more comfort. Now at the end of my semester, I feel almost like I’ve always been running around the city and taking my classes at the university with the friends I’ve made here. It’s strange to remember that, in reality, I’ve only known them all for four short months. Building a whole new life in a completely different country and language was something that all of my study abroad classmates and I have mentioned to one another as an incredible rewarding accomplishment.
(Owen –Reed College–, Florencia –University of La Verne–, Allison –Vanderbilt University–, and Lucía –Wellesley College– riding a bike...)
Give and Receive
Living and studying in another country inevitably involves being exposed to something different: a new language (of course), new customs and time tables that could be radically different from what one is used to, a different way to understand life, education, or even human relationships. The students of the CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts program in the University of Barcelona (UB) have the opportunity – and the good fortune, I would say – to be exposed to these differences from the very beginning of their stay in Barcelona: in their regular classes in the different departments of the UB, as well as in many diverse activities organized by CIEE through the term such as linguistic exchanges, cultural or volunteer activities, or through study groups at the CIEE Barcelona site led by UB local students. These personal relationships between American and Spanish students are not always easy, nor do they necessarily appear spontaneously. Like other aspects of life, personal relationships require time and dedication; it is necessary to accept from the first moment that what you give is also what you receive, but also that a person naturally receives what they give. It is the magical balance between giving and receiving.
(Sasha –George Washington University–, Nicole –Tulane University–, Maya –UC San Diego–, Kassandra –University of La Verne–, and Ralitsa –Columbia University–, in front of Bilbao Guggenheim Museum during the CIEE weekend trip)
When Samia and Dani, two students from the Philology department of the University of Barcelona, started their academic internships in October at CIEE Barcelona, I knew that, in their contact with the American students from our different study programs, they would quickly find this balance of giving and receiving. The tasks and goals of these two students were quite clear: take their first steps as educators taking the hands of some students that specifically needed these other “local” hands to guide them, and to improve their comprehension and integration into this new life and new educational system. But, I am not sure if Samia and Dani were aware during those first days of October that their generosity and fantastic work with the students would go in two directions. As I said before, they face the fortunate cycle of giving and receiving. These testimonials will better explain what I am trying to say…
Dani, UB Student
My name is Daniel Cuní Díez. This semester I collaborated with CIEE during my external curricular internship. I am currently seeking study a Master’s degree in Spanish as a Foreign Language in Professional Environments at the University of Barcelona. Because of my connection with the UB, I participated in some activities for the Advanced Liberal Arts program.
I have been able to improve my teaching practice by organizing tutoring sessions for the students that were taking Spanish language courses in CIEE Barcelona, but also leading study groups for the ALA students that were taking direct enrolment courses in the Spanish Philology Department at the UB. I assisted them, most especially on literary themes, since many of them do not have academic training in this area. In addition, I presented them with a general panorama of literature in Spain and in Europe, and I also resolved specific doubts they had about the topics. In my case, I focused on Spanish Illustration and I explained the contents through text analyses.
My experience has been really positive in several aspects, given that the relationship with the students was really close and rewarding. I have increased my overall competence in relation to Spanish as a foreign language and, most importantly, I learned new things about the American educational system, which is really different from the Spanish one.
(Alicia –Carnegie Mellon University–, Rocio –Wingate University–, and Emma –Columbia University– with Dani)
Samia, UB student
My name is Samia Aderdouch and I am a student intern seeking a Master's Degree in Spanish as a Foreign Language in Professional Environments at the University of Barcelona. I have completed my internship at CIEE and my experience in tutoring American students of the ALA program has been fantastic.
Typically, the tutoring sessions covered subjects that I had already studied while majoring in Hispanic Philology, so I was able to explain my own experiences with the subjects and professors and give them lots of advice as well. It has also been a great opportunity to see how American students are and what aspects are more difficult for them. For example, when discussing literature, they often did not know all the historical or literary context of the novels.
And since I had never given classes before, I discovered how they work, what things I have to improve on and what subjects are easier for me... And I've always tried to do my best by getting involved a lot and helping them to the fullest. My goal was that they pass their exams successfully–something I think I have achieved.
Additionally, the students were always very nice, so during the various classes I always felt very comfortable and that I had a good rapport with them, likely because our ages were very similar.
(Sophie –Princeton University–, Haley and Allison –Vanderbilt University–, and Emma –Columbia University–, with Samia)
Emma, Columbia University
Samia’s and Dani’s “tutorías” completely eased my transition into Spanish academic life. The classes I enrolled in at the University of Barcelona – Spanish narrative in the 20th Century and Spanish Enlightenment literature – took some adjusting to, especially because Spanish isn’t my native language. During the tutorías, I was able to ask Samia and Dani questions I hadn’t been able to pose in class, as well as have engaging discussions to supplement the UB’s more lecture-oriented style. Samia and Dani were quite knowledgeable about the subject matter and they were able to explain complex literary and philosophical concepts in a way that I could understand despite the language barrier. It was also nice to spend time with Spanish students whose interests are similar to mine. Overall, the tutorías were an academic highlight of my time in Barcelona!