It is hard to believe that students have already completed two months in Madrid. Classes are going well and students are enjoying a mix of regular direct enroll courses that is complemented by a culture focussed class. This semester popular courses are Linear Algebra and Discrete Maths at the Leganes campus of our host university, Universdad Carlos III de Madrid.
Weekend Excursion to Sevilla
In late February our group took the AVE high-speed train and visited the southern city of Sevilla for three days. The weather was beautiful, cool and sunny. After checking into the hotel, we conducted a walking tour so that participants could get a feel for the city and understand how it was designed.
Our first stop was to a local convent in the old quarters where the nuns seem to spend a lot of time baking. Through a special window enclosure, our tour guide, Patricia, bought some local almond cookies from the convent so that we could all share and try out something tasty.
Sevilla has many old buildings and numerous eateries and tapas bars. But the latest architectural addition in the old quarter of the city is the so-called “mushroom” or, in Spanish, “la seta” due to its shape and colors. It´s official name is the Metropol Parasol and it is a wooden structure designed by the German architect Mayer-Hermann. Our engineering students were impressed that this is the the largest wooden structure in the world.
Since our trip happened to be during the Carnival weekend, some students saw the Latin American-inspired parade in their free time that went through the historic city center. Different carnival groups from Bolivia, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Brazil, etc. participated in the processions with dance music. Students also enjoyed a guided tour on Saturday, visiting the remainder of the iconic buildings and parks in Sevilla. Our English-speaking local guide explained the history of the city as well as the meaning of some of the different areas in Sevilla. A lot of students enjoyed seeing the impressive "Giralda" or Cathedral tower. CIEE Difference: Two Activities in the City Each Week
Our student activities coordinator, Sonia, has been planning and preparing many activities in Madrid. As part of the CIEE difference, there are at least two activities each week that students can sign up for and participate. There are various types of offering. For example, last week students could partake in a photo workshop where they learned how to take pictures by capturing different types of light and how to handle techniques with their smart phone.
After the workshop, the group went outside to practice their new techniques. There is a photo contest at the end of the semester with the theme “My Madrid” where participants can submit their best picture. During our farewell event, all attendees can vote for the best picture. Student also participated in an outdoor activity geared at exploring a different area of the city. Together with the RD they did a nature walk along the “Madrid Rio” park where students saw the re-designed bridges of the Manzanares river and stopped at the green house of the city where they could explore the different climates and fauna. Inside the greenhouse there were four microclimates. Madrid Staff Training
Our Madrid student coordinator, Sonia, was part of the first of two international cohorts of the Employee Intercultural Development Program that occurred in Istanbul with facilitators, Quinton Redcliffe (CIEE Study Center, Cape Town, South Africa) and Catherine Menyhart (Manager, Training and Development in Portland, Maine) It was a huge success with lots of new learnings, cultural exchanges, CIEE staff bonding and even a magical snowstorm during a walking tour of Istanbul. A perfect opportunity for staff to experience the city through a new framework.