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21 posts categorized "Spanish Language"

04/18/2018

Advanced Liberal Arts, Spring 2018, Newsletter II

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Exchange

Exchange is one of the cornerstones of any experience abroad. The American students that participate in the CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts program exchange with the local youth: ideas, languages, conversations, moments, food, class notes, dances and kisses… Ultimately, they exchange diverse ways –yet always complementary– of understanding life. 

The cultural and academic clash that our students experience is considerable. Even though we try to pave the way during orientation, when we warn them of the most frequent difficulties that a person will always encounter while living in new country, it is only first-hand experience of this new reality that may permit assimilation and incorporation into our cultural background.   S2-2

(Adam –Columbia University–, CIEE and UB Prof. Mar Forment, Cecilia and Lilla –Tufts University–,  Marcella –Saint Edward's University–, Eva –Williams College–, and Quinn –Vanderbilt University–)

Acting on professional bias –and why not admit it as well, a certain ethnocentrism–, we tend to focus on the perspective that American students have of the country and the chosen city and of its people so much that we forget the other variable of the equation: the local students. How do the University of Barcelona students perceive the CIEE students? What do they think and feel about them? What do they learn about and from them? Do the friendships that emerge in these months help to better understand the United States, its people and the values that they represent? These are difficult questions to answer. We know that some of these friendships that begin through these exchanges endure in time and that is when mutual comprehension between young American and Spanish students grow and become profound. We know this because the friendships –and many times also love relationships– that develop in these few months in Barcelona are translated in various two-way visits. For example, it is very common to find local Spanish students who have just come back from visiting their friends from CIEE in the United States or CIEE alumni that, years later, come back to Barcelona to solidify a friendship that distance has obliged to make virtual.

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(Robert –University of Barcelona–, Jane, Nick and Sydney –Vanderbilt University–, and Daniel –Bowdoin College– taking a selfie and eating "churros")

For ten years now, we have had a tool at CIEE Barcelona that helps us respond to many of the questions that University of Barcelona students might have about American students and the United States. And it is for this reason that CIEE Barcelona started to collaborate with the Language Scholar Program at Reed College. Thanks to this extraordinary linguistic, cultural and academic program, every year a student from the UB is given the opportunity to live, study and work on an American campus. Thanks to Reed College, we can better understand the other side of the exchange between American and Spanish students. It is an honor and a source of pride for CIEE Barcelona to be able to contribute to and strengthen this exchange.

María and Lizara, two students from the University of Barcelona, tell us in first person what their experience in the United States has been like.

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(María and Lizara, UB students, with Owen, Reed student and former participant of the CIEE ALA program in the UB)

University of Barcelona students at Reed College

We are María and Lizara, this year’s Spanish Language Scholars at Reed College, Portland. Now that we are at the end of this adventure, we look back and we find it difficult to put into words just how beautiful this experience has been. Studying abroad implies many complicated decisions; the most obvious one is the willingness to be far away from all things familiar as well as your closest ones. Nonetheless, in retrospect, we feel extremely lucky to have been granted this opportunity.

Since the day of our arrival, Reed College made us feel at home. The faculty, the students, and especially the Spanish Department introduced themselves and helped us discover the genuine details that make Portland such a special city. “Keep Portland Weird” is a motto that made us fall in love with this rainy but charming place since the very beginning. We will have a hard time forgetting Reed’s campus, with the canyon that divides it, the Greek amphitheater, its gorgeous nature, magical red buildings, moss-covered trees and even its squirrels.

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Furthermore, this experience has also been an opportunity to grow both personally and professionally. We have developed a set of skills in a demanding but supportive environment. It has been a pleasure and a challenge for us to bring our language and culture (the Balearic and Aragonese, in particular) to America and be able to share it in an atmosphere as special as the one created in La Casa Hispana. We will hold dear good memories: movie nights, cultural parties, game board evenings, Cafecitos… with all the residents and reedies; and of course, we will remember all the classes where we have seen our students surprise even themselves with their growing knowledge of Spanish.

Nowadays, being so close to the end, we just have words of gratitude. Thanks Reed College and CIEE for making this dream come true.

02/13/2018

Advanced Liberal Arts, Spring 2018, Newsletter I

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Libertas perfundet omnia luce
When new students arrive at the Barcelona airport after a long transoceanic journey and make their way to the CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts program orientation, upon arrival they find students wearing CIEE shirts that welcome them, help them with their luggage and accompany them on the bus to the orientation location. These students, of the same age as the recent arrivals, are in fact, students of the same institution that will host the participants of this CIEE program: The University of Barcelona. Minutes later, after the bus has taken them from the airport to the center of the city, the students will get off at Hotel H10 Universidad, situated on the corner of Plaza de la Universidad. The hotel and plaza are named Universidad because both are in front of the historical University of Barcelona building. Founded in 1450, it is an institution without which you could not easily understand the history of this city or the country over the past 568 years. At CIEE, we want our students in the program to familiarize themselves with their new university from the very beginning. On the second day, they undergo the academic session and language assessment, which are administered by professors of the Philology Department at the UB.

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(ALA students visiting the UB Old Main with Dr. Anna Vallugera, Professor of the CIEE course "Masterworks of Catalan Art"

What I’m trying to say is that for CIEE the relationship that we want our students to establish with the host institution is key for many reasons: it guarantees quality and indisputable academic rigor while also guaranteeing the level of integration and immersion of our students for whom, in any other way, it would be much more complicated. The professors that teach the ALA program courses are also professors of the UB. The university students that attend the linguistic exchanges are the same students that our students will cross paths with and share classes with in the different departments of the UB. And through the possibility of internship positions, or volunteer programs, our students may further strengthen their sense of belonging and expand their circle of contacts.

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(Students after taking the Spanish language placement test in the UB Philology Department during the orientation)

The motto of the UB is “Libertas perfundet omnia luce” (Liberty fills everything with light). A few days ago, I wrote a brief message of gratitude to our new students for their attention and excellent behavior during the orientation. To it I attached this picture that I took during our visit to the UB Old Main, in the Rector’s office, where the Barcelona winter light was shining down on them. I sincerely wish them a term where libertas perfundet omnia luce…

SP181a(CIEE ALA students in University of Barcelona Rector's office)

 

 

12/22/2017

Advanced Liberal Arts, Fall 2017, Newsletter III

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F3-0(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.

F3-01(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.

F3-1(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.

F3-2(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.

F3-3(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!

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11/22/2017

Advanced Liberal Arts, Fall 2017, Newsletter II

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Poetry and education

We live in an accelerated time and are led by the technological changes that are impacting our lives in many ways: from human relationships and communication to work and the easy access of information; and these are only a few examples. Education in general, and the university in particular, is not immune to these profound changes that have pushed our institutions toward a deeper revision of the ways and methods of teaching.

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(University of Barcelona Old Main)

It is easily verifiable that in these past years, the university has diverted its focus toward professional learning and the development of applied investigation. Its primary objective these days seems to be professional training in the diverse and specialized areas of the job market. But we cannot ignore that there are also many voices that have recently been raised alerting and asking us if we want, and if we can afford, a university that is mainly dedicated to professional development, therein marginalizing another type of intellectual training that permits us to educate committed citizens –those capable of understanding the present, judging it critically and thinking about a future for themselves and those around them– in a society that should be more free and reasonable. An important number of books and articles reminds us these days that without a solid understanding of history, anthropology, art, literature, philosophy and ethics, –these spaces of reflection that humanities can teach us– only with great difficulty can our youth be prepared for the complexities of the adult world. A few months ago, my colleague and friend, Dr. Paul DeYoung, Director of International Programs at Reed College, mentioned that our work as educators is “bringing new and important opportunities to young engaging minds that will lead our future.” Yes, Paul is right: we are educating our leaders, and we want –and need– the best leaders. Excellence, integrity, respect, collaboration: these are CIEE’s core values.

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(ALA students in front of CIEE Barcelona)

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The students of the CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts program at the University of Barcelona (UB) are a good example that this indispensable equilibrium between technical training and a solid knowledge of humanities is not only possible but recommendable. To illustrate this point with a couple of examples, this term Sophie, from Princeton University, is taking the course “Artificial Vision” in the UB Computer Engineering Department and also the courses “The Spanish Narrative in the 20th Century” in the UB Spanish Department and “Literature & Cinema in Spain” at CIEE Barcelona. Meanwhile, Julio, from Columbia University, is taking courses at the UB such as “The History of Economic Thought” and “Philosophy of Law” along with “Photography” and “Masterworks in Catalan Art.” This combination of scientific and technical courses with humanities permits our/your students to incorporate these necessary and complementary perspectives during this important formative period of their lives.

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(CIEE "Contemporary Spain" class at the Catalan Parlament)

In my opinion, amongst all the humanities studies, few better facilitate the spiritual mission of education like poetry. It is because of this that at CIEE we offer our ALA program students the unique opportunity to attend a conference and poetry recital given by Joan Margarit, one of the most important poets in recent Spanish literature. Margarit’s recital and lecture was the inaugural act of our Semana Cultural (Cultural Week). His poetry teaches us that “culture is not decoration, it is as serious as penicillin, energy or electricity.” He believes that a poem is “an instrument with the same effect of science, which creates structures so that we do not suffer cold nor hunger and that we are cured of our disease.” For Margarit, “there is an inclemency that is not physical, but moral, which makes reference to loss and love, and where there exists no button like those in a furnace that we can push when we are cold”. In the face of this moral inclemency "there are few things that can help except perhaps poetry, paintings, fine arts, philosophy and, for some, religion. It is not much, but we have nothing else.” We can only say thanks to Joan Margarit for visiting CIEE Barcelona and for sharing his words, poems and wisdom with the CIEE ALA students.

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(Renowned poet Joan Margarit lecturing and reciting to the ALA program students)

Allison, from Vanderbilt University, wanted to share her impression of Joan Margarit’s recital with us:

Alison, Vanderbilt University

It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear Joan Margarit recite his poetry. The poems themselves are so rich in both personal and historical context, but they took on even greater meaning for me when I could hear his inflections and the emotion in his voice. Margarit made it clear in his discussion after the recitation that he feels poetry is an incredible outlet for the expression of impossible human emotions. We were then able to ask questions and engage with him and his writing on another level, asking about his inspirations, unintentional meanings, and the experiences that led him to write. I am so grateful to have met a poet who is a part of living Spanish literary history and who took the time to speak with us about his life's work. 

Three poems of Joan Margarit (with the authorization of the author):

IT WASN’T FAR AWAY OR DIFFICULT
The time has come
when life that is lost no longer hurts,
when lust is a useless light
and envy is forgotten. It is a time
of wise and necessary losses,
it is not a time for arriving, but for going away.
It is now that love
finally coincides with intelligence.
It wasn’t far away or difficult.
It is a time that leaves me only the horizon
with which to measure solitude.
The time of protective sadness.

TOAST
Closer through that which no one will ever know,
we raise our two glasses.
We see our light, each in the eyes of the other.
A man and a woman, in an instant,
can be wrong.
But the instant will never come back

(translated by Anne Crowe)

LA ÉPOCA GENEROSA
Nuestros, como canciones
que nos hacen llorar, son esos días
que fueron la verdad de los anocheceres
sonrientes y del baño de los niños.
El alegre cansancio de la cena.
Las caras que no han vuelto
a confiar como entonces.
La vida se alimenta de días generosos.
De dar y proteger.
Si se ha podido dar, la muerte es otra.

 

 

01/05/2017

ADVANCED LIBERAL ARTS, FALL 2016, NEWSLETTER III

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Study Abroad: difficulties and challenges

In the first Newsletter, of this past fall term, we wrote about how the first days in any study abroad experience is a necessary mix of happy emotions, worry, nerves, and frustration. For some students, these first weeks might seem traumatic because they need to adapt to a new cultural, academic and linguistic reality, but it is not an identical process for everyone, nor is it calculable. Each person needs to face –and to overcome– the difficulties in their own diverse and unique way. While for some students, the integration into a new city and a new University (The University of Barcelona in this case) passes in only a few days and at a great velocity, other students find serious difficulties to find their place in their new surroundings and to understand the expectations of their new professors, who may have a teaching style that might be radically different to those in their home campus.

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In CIEE, we try to anticipate these potential difficulties and we take the time to instruct and inform about them during the orientation, and to solve them with concrete actions during the first days and weeks. But we are also conscious and know the indisputable truth: studying and living in a different country is an individual, unique and unrepeatable experience. And that which presents itself as complicated, frustrating or discouraging in a first phase, transforms into something magical at the end of the journey. Like in other aspects in life –and the Study Abroad experience is not an exception– the balances and the conclusions cannot be found at the beginning of a project. It is necessary to wait for its conclusion so that, with the necessary perspective, you can see how far you have come, and more importantly, how different you are today after the journey faced.

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Abby, from Villanova University, has learned this lesson well after her experience in the CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts program in the University of Barcelona. Her testimonial is the perfect example to illustrate what I am trying to say:

TESTIMONIAL. Just three short months ago, by Abby (Villanova University)

Just three short months ago I arrived in Spain ready to take on my semester abroad. I landed in Barcelona and the only thing running through my head was why did I sign up for this program? Why am I taking all of my classes in Spanish? What was I thinking? I felt apprehensive about my decision and decided to see Alberto, the program director. I was frustrated and doubtful and I actually started to cry in front of a man I had only met a few days before. Alberto assured me that I just needed to relax, take each day at a time and believe in myself.

The changes did not happen overnight and I had to work hard every single day, but with the help of my tutor, Mar, and all of the people at CIEE I began to feel better about my abilities. While my achievements can be seen through scores and numbers, I think the most rewarding part of it has been feeling comfortable with myself. I started to participate more and ask questions in class and I even approached professors at the University of Barcelona if I needed clarification. My confidence and progression with Spanish have been improved so much in such a short amount of time.

Looking back on this semester, I cannot believe that it is already over. It has been everything I had hoped to get out of my study abroad experience and more. I have grown personally as well as academically and I could not have achieved all that I have this semester without the help of the amazing staff at CIEE. My experience abroad has meant so much to me and I will be forever grateful for my semester with CIEE ALA program and all that it has taught me.

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10/04/2016

LIBERAL ARTS, FALL 2016, NEWSLETTER I

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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:

When class takes you to the groceries!

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. LA

Local budies for local integration

Our Guardian Angels (GA’s) are Spanish students that help our students to get familiarize with the city, to manage practical matters the first weeks, and to get integrated better in the Spanish culture. LA students already enjoyed a Tapas Night, a walking tour and a beach volleyball afternoon with their GA’s. LA1

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 class Advanced Grammar, Composition and Conversation. LA2

 

02/05/2016

DISCOVERING COMMON GROUND

One of our students, Charlotte, from Carnegie Mellon University, explains in her personal blog the adventures of being abroad. In one of her posts she writes about how her experience abroad with CIEE changed her mind and gave her the possibility of understanding the world in a more open-minded way:

As I embarked on this study abroad experience, my worst fear was that my Spanish would let me down. I have pursued a degree in Hispanic Studies in part because in my generation, knowing Spanish is of global importance. Despite my commitment to this venture of studying in Spain, in the beginning I doubted my ability to become a fluent Spanish speaker.

Over the past three months I have confronted this fear head on. Initially I became easily frustrated because I struggled to converse with native speakers. As September passed, however, increasingly I could hear the distinction between words. Although I was unable to respond quickly, I recognized that I had experienced major improvement in comprehension.

In the weeks that followed, my spoken Spanish improved as well. November 3rd marked the day when everything changed. It was as though I had acquired so much vocabulary that suddenly I was able to speak more fluidly. While shopping or at a restaurant, I was better able to express myself. I began to initiate casual conversation while waiting for the bus. It seemed that everywhere I went native Spanish speakers complimented my Spanish.

Despite this improvement in my spoken Spanish, as a perfectionist I continued to feel discouraged at times.  

One day I confided in Andrés, one of my favorite professors. From the start, Andrés inspired me. It was evident that he strongly values his students’ success, and there is never a moment when he is not enthusiastic, so I felt comfortable talking with him. “I would like to speak to you about something that is bothering me,” I told him.

- “Come in.”

- “I often find myself feeling embarrassed by my accent because everyone responds to me in English, which makes me feel incapable of speaking Spanish.”

Andrés reassured me: “It is very common to feel like that, but if people respond to you in English, it is usually because they want to practice their English. Don’t worry about it – you can continue speaking Spanish while the other person speaks in English. Often, when someone hears from your accent that you are American, they think, ‘Ah, an American, straight out of the movies!”

I laughed. Andrés has a way of making light of a situation, and I felt much better.

I began to recognize how much I had accomplished. As our program director said last week at our goodbye lunch, in four months we had become capable of communicating in Spanish at an advanced, academic level.

On Saturday, I headed to the airport at the crack of dawn with my two (extremely heavy) bags. I felt a mix of emotions as I absorbed for the last time the sites of Barcelona’s distinct streets.

My first flight took off from Barcelona, Spain en route to Newark, New Jersey. After ten hours of travel and little sleep, I sat, bleary–eyed, at a café near the terminal waiting for my final flight. A lively girl who looked about my age sat down at the same table. “I love your hat,” I said.

A second girl sat down at the table.    

- “Thanks! I didn’t realize I was still wearing it,” she responded, as she removed the festive Santa hat.

- “Where are you headed?”

- “I’m going to Italy, and my friend is going to India. I’ve been living in the U.S. for the past year and a half, and I’m excited to see my family.”

- “That’s funny, because I’m returning from living abroad myself! It’s so weird to hear English everywhere.”

Laughing, she responded, “That’s exactly how I felt when I first came to America. I could barely speak English, and it was even more difficult because in Italy we learn British English. For instance, I used to say accommodation instead of housing, which would always result in blank stares.”

It was gratifying to be able to share with someone from a different culture our parallel experiences. In this moment, I realized how much living in Spain had changed me. It opened my eyes to an expansive world, and showed me the excitement of finding commonality despite different backgrounds. I feel exhilarated to be returning to the U.S. with these insights and look forward to applying them to my life.

Spanish translation:

Antes de esta experiencia, mi mayor temor era que mi español me fallara. Planeaba una carrera en estudios hispánicos porque en mi generación la habilidad de hablar en español es útil. A pesar de mi compromiso con este viaje, al principio dudaba que pudiera adquirir un español fluido.

Durante estos tres meses, he enfrentado este temor directamente. Al principio, me frustraba mucho porque no podía charlar con hablantes nativos. Sin embargo, para finales de septiembre podía oír la distinción entre las palabras repentinamente; es decir, aunque no podía contestar rápidamente, vi una mejora en mi comprensión.  

En las semanas que siguieron, también noté una mejora drástica en mi español hablado. El 3 de noviembre fue el día en que todo cambió. Por el mucho vocabulario que había adquirido, de pronto tenía la habilidad de comunicarme con más fluidez. Cuando iba de compras o comía en un restaurante, sabía qué quería decir. Empecé a charlar con desconocidos mientras esperaba el autobús. Parecía que todo el mundo quedaba impresionado por mi español.

A pesar de esta mejora en mi español hablado, como soy muy perfeccionista me sentía cada vez más desalentada.

Un día hablaba con Andrés, uno de mis profesores favoritos. Desde el principio, Andrés me ha inspirado. Evidentemente le importa mucho el éxito de sus estudiantes, y nunca hay un momento en que él no esté pletórico de entusiasmo, y por eso me sentía cómoda hablando con él. “Quiero hablar contigo porque algo me está molestando”, le dije.

- “Pasa”.

- “A menudo tengo vergüenza de mi acento porque todo el mundo me contesta en inglés, dándome la sensación de que soy incapaz de hablar en castellano”.

Andrés me tranquilizó: “Es común sentirse así, pero si alguien te contesta en inglés, usualmente es que quiere practicar su inglés. Entonces cuando esto ocurre, no pasa nada – puedes continuar hablando en español mientras la otra persona habla en inglés. Muchas veces, cuando alguien oye por tu acento que eres americana, piensa, ‘¡Ah, una americana, salida de las películas!”

Me reí. Andrés tiene una forma de mantener el humor en una situación como esa, y me sentía mucho mejor.

Empecé a ver cuánto había logrado. Como el director del programa nos dijo la semana pasada en la comida de despedida, después de cuatro meses hemos llegado a ser capaces de comunicarnos en español con un nivel académico avanzado.

El sábado me dirigía al aeropuerto por la madrugada con mis dos pesadas maletas. Sentía una mezcla de emociones mientras admiraba la última vista de las pintorescas calles de Barcelona.

Mi primer vuelo fue desde Barcelona a Newark. Después de diez horas de viajar sin descanso, me senté –lánguida– en un café cerca de la terminal para esperar el último vuelo. Una chica de mi edad se sentó a la misma mesa muy animada. “Me encanta tu sombrero”, le dije.

Otra chica se sentó.

- “¡Gracias! No me había dado cuenta de que todavía estaba llevándolo”, me contestó mientras se quitaba su sombrero de San Nicolás.

- “¿A dónde viajas?”

- “Viajo a Italia, y mi amiga viaja a India. Llevo un año y medio en los Estados Unidos, y tengo muchas granas de ver a mi familia.”

- “¡Que casualidad! ¡Acabo de regresar del extranjero también! Es una locura escuchar inglés por todos lados”.

Riendo, me respondió, “Yo sentía lo mismo cuando llegué por primera vez a América. Apenas podía hablar en inglés, y fue aun más difícil porque en Italia aprendemos el inglés británico. Por ejemplo, solía decir “accommodation” en vez de “housing” y siempre provocaba miradas vacías”. 

Fue increíble relacionarme con alguien de otra cultura a través de una experiencia compartida. En aquel momento, me di cuenta de que Barcelona me había cambiado muchísimo. Abrió mis ojos a un mundo expansivo, y me reveló que es emocionante descubrir aspectos comunes a pesar de las diferencias innatas. Me entusiasma regresar a los Estados Unidos con estas perspicacias para aplicarlas a mi vida. 

If you want to know more about her experiences abroad, take a look at her blog Aventuras de Char.

11/26/2014

Volunteering in Barcelona. Beyond an experience

Rachel, from Howard University, has known how to take profit of her stay in Barcelona and besides her studies, she started a volunteering here. She has wanted to share her experience to explain us such an interesting experience abroad:

ASSIS voluntariado ALA y GAD (1)"I started volunteering at this facility called Assís every Tuesday since the end of September. Assís is a shelter that feeds the homeless & provides them with activities such as gardening classes, art classes, cooking classes, computer classes, & a small rec room for ping pong or just hanging out. Roger, the supervisor, told me this place was all about combating the loneliness, so even though my Spanish isn’t very good & my Catalan is nonexistent, the people who come to Assís would appreciate me just trying to acknowledge them. It’s mostly older men but I’ve seen a few younger men & a small number of women come through.

I’ve had about four different tasks while volunteering at Assís. I either served juice, worked in the kitchen cleaning, served food, or helped work bag check. My first day all I did was given the easiest task of serving people coffee, milk, hot water for tea, & orange juice. It was easiest because if they grabbed a certain type of cup from the service station it implied they wanted a certain drink, I couldn’t possibly mess that up. Some of those I served were really friendly & were asking me my name & where I was from, they could tell I was new. I was definitely practicing my Spanish skills here. There was another CIEE student volunteering here & a few other volunteers who spoke Spanish really well so they helped translate for me when I get too lost.

The next week I was put on kitchen duty. You would think that would have been the easiest task but it wasn’t. Nobody in the kitchen spoke English so when they were telling me what to do or what goes where I was just kind of staring at them super confused. But those ladies were the sweetest & they would just walk me through everything & explain it again very slowly. Who knew the kitchen could be such a confusing place? After the kitchen I started serving food & that was generally the same as serving the juice but I was communicating much better thanks to everyone’s help!

The next few weeks I was given a bigger role of storing the visitors’ bags. When I’m storing bags I have to fill out a log stating if they are regulars, male or female, if they are there to shower & eat or just eat, if they are Catalan or another identification & then tag their bags with a number so I know what bag correlates to which person. This job is probably the most difficult. I couldn’t always tell if a name is male or female at the end of the day when I had to record the daily totals. I didn’t always understand what people were saying. There were also a lot of bags & sometimes the people got frustrated when I didn’t find their bag fast enough but most usually helped point it out to me.

I’ve seen some of the people who are served at Assís out & about in Spain & I’ve met up with one of the other volunteers. The two men I saw on two different occasions were really excited to see me & introduced me to a few of there friends but I couldn’t really stay & talk too long because I was on my way to class both times. When I met one of the other volunteers we grabbed some coffee  & she helped me study for my Spanish mid-term. We also took a study break to just get to know each other.

Sometimes I couldn’t make it on Tuesdays due to my schedule but I tried my best because I enjoyed going there. It was a relaxing moment away from schoolwork & the busy city. I definitely felt better on the days I went versus the days I couldn’t make it. I really enjoyed this experience; everyone I met was wonderful & friendly".

07/25/2014

Summer Business Internship Program, 2014 :: Part II

Katrina, Student on our Summer Business Internship Program. Summer 2014

Katrina

Mi experiencia con mi practica ha sido una que no puedo duplicar. Mi practica aquí era con niños españoles en una escuela local.  No puedo tener una experiencia como esta en los estados unidos donde yo vivo porque no hay muchas españoles. Estoy estudiando español y es muy difícil para me in Nueva Hampshire para hacer una practica en español. 

Los niños eran un grupo de edades variedades.  Yo hablaba en Ingles a los mayores para practicar “speaking” para sus exámenes finales cuando ellos estaban en sus clases de la semestre.  Hablábamos sobre la moda, la tele, las universidades, el red, y los móviles.  Ellos estaban muy interesados con mi iPhone porque en España los iPhones no son común.

 El segundo parte de mi practica estaba sobre que ayude con un campo del verano, se llama “casal”. Ellos tienen edades desde tres a siete anos.  Ellos aprenden tres idiomas: Español, Catalán, y Ingles. Es increíble para oír tres idiomas en la mezcla de nuestro día para todo el día.  Hablábamos sobre todo y he aprendido como arreglar problemas en Español, una cosa que los profesores en su escuela no te enseña.  Este experiencia fue muy increíble y provechoso y yo no lo cambiaria.

Briana, Student on our Summer Business Internship Program, University of Evansville. Summer 2014 

Briana

Durante los dos últimos meses he trabajado en Audiconsultores, una empresa de auditorías. Aquí trabajé con el departamento de la contabilidad. Durante mi tiempo allí, he aprendido muchas partes distintas que se juntan para crear el departamento de la contabilidad. También he conocido personas muy ambles que trabajan conmigo. Siempre cuando tengo preguntas sobre cualquier caso están listos para explicar y ayudar si es posible. Me ha gustado hablar inglés a veces con ellos. Les gusta practicar para entender un poco mejor cuáles son las frases más usadas. Es en estos momentos, me siento en realidad parte del equipo. Mis colegas ya me han preguntado si iré a visitarles en Audi la próxima vez que estoy en Barcelona.

Es diferente trabajar aquí, porque las expectativas son muy diferentes. En los Estados Unidos, los becarios usualmente no tienen mucha responsabilidad y es más común que reciben muchas instrucciones y están “micro-managed”. Pero para mi experiencia, creo que he recibido mucha responsabilidad. He hecho proyectos en los que chequé los números de diferentes tipos de contabilidad. También he preparado unos documentos que estaban usando para los archivos de la empresa y para el uso de mis colegas. Durante este proceso me explicaron qué necesitaba hacer y me dejaron hacerlo sin muchas interrupciones. A veces me preguntaban si todo iba bien, pero nada más.

En general mi práctica era una buena oportunidad para aprender más de la contabilidad y para aplicar lo que he aprendido en la universidad, pero también cómo funciona la empresa y consultoría en España. Ha sido una gran experiencia y no la cambiaría para nada.

 

07/22/2014

Summer Business Internship Program, 2014

Samantha, Student on our Summer Business Internship Program, University of Wisconsin - Madison. Summer 2014 

Sin título
La nueva práctica

Todavía recuerdo cuando nerviosamente me fui del ascensor y llegaba a un escritorio de recepción con las letras grandes y elegantes de ‘Audi Consultores’ por la primera vez.  Fue el primer día de mi primera práctica y estaba en un país y una empresa desconocida y en un lugar donde mi idioma nativo no era hablado. En casi todos los aspectos, fue un mundo nuevo. 

Sin embargo, ahora es dos meses más tarde y no cambiaría ningunas de estas diferencias.  Mi experiencia aquí estudiando y trabajando en Barcelona ha sido invaluable.  En particular, mi práctica en la empresa AudiConsultores me ha enseñado muchísimo sobre los negocios y como adaptarme a una cultura completamente nueva para trabajar.  Desde el primer día, ellos me dieron mucha responsabilidad al cumplir proyectos en las áreas del marketing y de las finanzas.  Aprecié esto muchísimo.  No solo fui vista como un becarillo para hacer tareas muy rutinarias, sino como un empleado quien podía hacer contribuciones significativas a la empresa. 

Por ejemplo, cumplí un proyecto para un cliente en que necesitaba investigar el mercado nuevo de resiliencia urbana para ayudarles creando un reporte para inversores potenciales.  Mucho del resto del tiempo fue analizando los documentos financieros de muchos de sus clientes y condesando la información en resúmenes y gráficos.  En todo, fue una experiencia genial que me ayudó con mis aspiraciones de mi carrera mientras pensaba un verano en una de las ciudades mejores del mundo.  

Coralee, Student on our Summer Business Internship Program, Texas Christian University. Summer 2014  

10402057_10203533223623545_3583033621176131135_n

Estos últimos dos meses han sido una gran experiencia de aprendizaje para mi, desde vivir con una familia a actividades culturales en mi vida diaria en Barcelona. También he tenido la oportunidad de hacer una práctica y trabajar en una escuela aquí. Mi experiencia allí me ha permitido ver muchas cosas y conocer a mucha gente que si no hubiera hecho no habría conocido.

Trabajo en una escuela que se llama Montseny 16 horas cada semana. Ellos tienen niños de 3 hasta 17 anos. He trabajado con casi todas las edades haciendo una variedad de cosas. He trabajado con el departamento de inglés, inglés en extra escolar y niños pequeños durante casal. Para el departamento de ingles ayudé niños con su inglés hablado. En extra escolar ayude a niños que iban a tomar el examen de ingles de Cambridge University Certificate y preparé actividades y lecturas para un grupo que iba a ir a Inglaterra. Finalmente, en el casal cuidé a los niños y tuve la oportunidad de practicar mi castellano con ellos.

Mi parte favorita de mi práctica también probablemente era la parte mas difícil: era de ver las interacciones entre los idiomas. El idioma oficial de Montseny es Catalán, un idioma que no entiendo. Es difícil de estar en el medio de personas que hablan un idioma que no entiendes. Pero después de un tiempo yo pude entender un poquito de Catalán escuchando muy atentamente a palabras que parecen como Castellano. Yo conocí personas que tienen dos idiomas maternos y fue muy interesante verles cambiando entre idiomas fácilmente. También pude ver la enseñanza de idiomas en un lugar donde valoran el conocimiento de muchos idiomas. Aunque fue difícil al principio, aprendí mucho de esta situación y al final fue mi parte favorita.  10547567_10203533222903527_6389544356626158988_n