Dear CIEE friends and colleagues,
It is hard to believe that we are at the mid-point of the fall 2013 program.
The first part of the semester included various CIEE-organized activities to help students become familiar with Madrid. As the "To-Do" list may seem overwhelming for some, we remind our participants that everything is optional (but mostly fun!). This past Saturday, October 19, several CIEE students and our CIEE Activities Coordinator, Sonia Sales (with cool green sunglasses) participated in the Holi Run held in Madrid. This was an activity for anyone who wanted to walk or run while colored powder and energetic music was being played. At each mile, runners received a "bath" of our magic powder, each one with a specific color. When our students reached the end of the course with a rainbow-colored body they showed a lot of smiles.
Our students have also been participating in CIEE's “Meet and Talk” events with Spanish students from the Universidad Carlos III. During a full hour, American students mingled with Spanish students interchanging language from English to Spanish and vice versa. Every five minutes a CIEE staff member ring a bell and students had to change language. There was also a lot of food and drinks to be shared. In total 23 students participated in this series of events and are now meeting one-on-one for intercambios and other types of gatherings.
Many students are relieved that they have now completed most of their midterm exams. This semester there is a new grade scale being introduced by CIEE that has been adjusted to keep the rigorous classes of the Universidad Carlos III (UC3M) in mind. The majority of the students are doing well, but they all comment that they have make sure to comply with all the homework assignments and make sure they do not miss any lab work.One of the benefits of the UC3M Engineering professors is that they have permanent office and research space at the Leganes campus where they hold student office hours; not all public universities in Spain abide by this privilege. In addition, through our working relationship with the Dean's office, the CIEE program is able to secure professor tutoring for our students who may need additional help with the course work.
The student mid-term housing evaluations were very positive with one student expressing concern regarding the Spanish food diet. All CIEE families follow a mediterranean diet and the student preferred to eat only ecological products such a soy milk, strawberries and raspberries. A lot of students also eat in the campus cafeteria during lunch time and get to try out all sorts of food served in a cafeteria buffet-style with salads, starters, soups, paella, rice dishes, fish and meats, a variety of seasonal fruits. But many have great compliments for the shared food that the CIEE hosts make them.
All students have been able to tell us stories of their favorite things with their home stays. For instance, some CIEE students have mentioned how much they appreciated going for a run with their host in the Retiro park; enjoying pleasant conversations after dinner about politics and cultural differences; or, learning about the “amazing" cooking of their host and children.
Overall, CIEE staff is very pleased with our current group of students. Some participants have also started exploring beyond Madrid -- initiating weekend travel to various regions of Spain like one engineering student who went to see the modern architecture in Valencia.
We will keep you posted. Saludos from Madrid.