Goodbye “ingenieros de Madrid”! Our students are leaving us with great impressions and many memories from this Spring. On the last day of exams, the Spanish king abdicated. One student had been excited that she studied the monarchy system in one of her classes and remembers that her teacher said that the king would never give up his throne. Yet, history seems full of surprises and the student was impressed that this power shift could happen so peacefully give the complex history of Spain.
Outside the classroom several engineering students became involved in some very rewarding experiences. A participant from the University of Virginia was selected to become a delegate at the annual Student IT Conference of European Universities held during March in Frankfurt, Germany. Another student began to volunteer as a teacher´s aid in an English language class at the university campus. Over the semester, she began to increase her volunteer hours once she became more engaged in the one-on-one communication with Spaniards. The teacher was very pleased with the student´s willingness to come prepared to class and help Spanish students improve their language skills.
Other students enjoyed going to the Madrid Rio Park, meeting up with friends... and in some case go skate boarding...Re-Entry Seminar
Students also attended the CIEE re-entry seminar led by the RD in the beginning of May. The session covered many topics and each student mentioned an item/issue that they would miss or not when they return to their U.S. college campus. One student mentioned that the weather in Madrid at times could be "funny" in the city center (i.e. rain at times unexpectedly).
Yet this was a great excuse to go to a favorite place near Plaza Sol, the chocolateria that CIEE students explored during one of the orientation walking tours. Fried donut dough dipped in a cup of pure melted chocolate for breakfast or a late night snack? Oh yes, here students enjoy their chocolate con churros.
A few students expressed initial frustration with the different education system in Spain. In some classes it is customary for Spanish students to speak to each other at the start of the class while the professor is already giving his lecture. A few CIEE students felt this was quite rude, but they came to accept this mode of behavior once some of the Spanish students had explained their reasons. One Spanish student explained that the lecture notes were also available online on the student account course page and several Spanish students came to class to find out how to solve homework assignments. CIEE students did feel that many Spanish studente were very friendly and nice. Similarly, many commented that the University professors were very accommodating in helping them get adjusted and making sure they did not fall behind in class. Other students said this type of classroom experience was part of the learning process and becoming adapted to Spain.
Another comment made by students was the amount of walking they do in Madrid. This was perceived as a healthy habit. One student said that she enjoyed walking from her house to the bear statue in Plaza Sol. The bear statue is a popular meeting point for CIEE students.
Host Institution Relationship: Celebrations and Visitors
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) is celebrating 25 years of existence and the relationship with CIEE could not be stronger. This past semester, CIEE staff and students were invited to attend the special ceremony led by the rector and the president of the Madrid region. The university awarded several prizes to current and past students, professors and organizations. The university has grown with additional faculty who have international doctoral degrees from overseas institutions. Many faculty who teach in the engineering programs English track degree programs have completed training stints at universities and top-rated companies in the U.S., Germany and England. In addition, several U.S. school advisors came to visit the Leganés campus this past spring and to seek out more information regarding the ample offering in engineering and the sciences. Each time a visitor came to Leganés they are always impressed that American engineering students, via the CIEE program, can enroll in regular courses in English together with Spanish students. This type of cultural and academic integration in the classroom setting is highly regarded by U.S. study abroad visitors.
Student Participation in Study Abroad Research on Spanish Language Acquisition
Early on in January, Bret Linford, professor at Indiana University arrived in Madrid to interview our current engineering participants. He returned to Madrid during the last week of April to complete his doctoral research and investigation on the Spanish language acquisition process among the CIEE participants. Their interviews were recorded on tape and also involved students completing an online cultural assessment survey. Professor Linford hopes to have his results compiled within the next few months so that his findings can hopefully be published and shared with the wider study abroad community. All the CIEE engineering students also participated in this study. And we should not forget to mention that the CIEE staff and students really enjoyed his American chocolates and goodies that he brought as presents.
Company Visit: Sustainable Engineering at a local Madrid hospital.
On May 23, the CIEE staff organized a special visit for a group of engineering students who wanted to learn more about sustainable engineering practices in Spain. We took a private bus to the medical facilities located outside the capital city precinct. Upon arrival, students and staff were greeted and welcomed by the hospital´s chief medical doctor in charge. She expressed her satisfaction that U.S. students were taking an interest in learning first-hand what the hospital´s innovative practices are in achieving a sustainable environment. In the general meeting room, participants then attended a power-point presentation by the Head of Environmental Control who eagerly showed and discussed the issues at hand: heat monitoring, water consumption, garbage disposal systems, solar paneling and other energy-saving measures.
After the session was finished, the CIEE group got a guided tour led by the head of engineering maintenance. The group walked up to the rooftop to see how the air conditioning system was set up. Then the group walked down the stairs to the basement and garbage facilities to look at the electrical, water, lighting and sewage recycling system being used. Some students had never been “behind-the-scenes” of a hospital before and also learned some new technical vocabulary in Spanish.
Thank You/Gracias Everyone