End of Semester Fall 2015 Newsletter - Engineering and Society
It is hard to believe that our Madrid Engineering and Society semester is nearing its end. We wanted to share some highlights of the latter part of the fall 2015. We´ll miss our students who have shown great effort to speak in Spanish and participate in all our activities. We are also marking the end of the tenth anniversary year of the Madrid Study Center (2005-2015). The Engineering program has been part of the CIEE Study Center since 2013 and its “youngest” program. CIEE staff gathered on December 15 to honor the tenth anniversary with a festive Spanish cheer. We look forward to many more years of welcoming students at our host university, guiding them through the many curiosities of Spanish society and also having fun while exploring Madrid.
Day Trip to Sixteenth Century Engineering Marvel: El Escorial
Together with the CIEE student services coordinator and a Spanish student Network member, CIEE students visited the Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, a historical residence of the King of Spain. This UNESCO world heritage site also functions as a monastery, royal palace, museum, and school. Participants of the day trip learned how 16th Century technology was used to help build this site in a “record” time of forty years, which was an incredible feat at that time of human development. The day trip received high marks because students could also explore some of the natural green areas surrounding El Escorial and get some “fresh air” from their studies on campus.
Weekend Excursion to Barcelona
One of the semester highlights was the CIEE weekend trip to Barcelona, the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, which is often defined by its quirky art and architecture. CIEE staff organized a walking tour on Friday afternoon of the main landmarks of the city. Students in particular liked the modernist personality represented by architect Antoni Gaudí’s fantastical Sagrada Família church.
CIEE organized a guided tour to this monument on Saturday morning. On Saturday afternoon CIEE staff accompanied students to the Gothic neighborhood for some more guided sightseeing. And on Sunday morning, students visited an old archeological site to learn more about the origins of Catalan nationalism and its historical date of September,1814. Homestay Meetings
The Madrid housing process follows a structured time line. After students have settled into their homestay, the housing coordinator Patricia checks in with both students and their hosts on their shared living experience. Each semester our housing coordinator also visits new homestays. Part of the check in list that the housing coordinator distributes is to ensure that all homestays have fire blankets and smoke alarms in place. Albeit CIEE Madrid never has had any housing incidents, this is standard protocol in our program. In addition, Patricia also meets with the hosts at our Study Center for a group meeting where she offers training and also provides a forum for hosts to share experiences. This semester many hosts said that their students were very concerned about prioritizing academics. Several commented how U.S. college students seemed worried about getting top grades and studying and did not seem very relaxed in comparison to Spanish peers who seem to be more in tune with “enjoying life.” Several students prepared a dish for the Thanksgiving Dinner together with their homestay hosts, including one 25 pound oven-baked turkey...
Thanksgiving Dinner & Games
On the last Thursday of November our students gathered at the Study Center for a Thanksgiving dinner. The housing coordinator, Patricia, cooked a 32 pound Turkey for six hours and then prepared homemade stuffing for our participants to enjoy. Many students felt home sick and wanted to have joint activity that also includes some group games. Some of them joined up with their hosts as they prepared home-made dishes (green beans, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, corn bread and pumpkin pies). Our student services coordinator, Sonia, prepared a Madrid version of Jeopardy where participants competed against each other in five teams. It was a lot of fun and students thanked the CIEE staff for making this holiday possible in Madrid.
Host University Farewell Reception
In mid-December the host university, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, organized a student farewell reception with some tapas, students, staff and teachers from the International Relations Office and the new International School. Particpants enjoyed a few drinks and a chatted while reflecting back on some of their shared experiences during the fall semester. CIEE Staff Volunteer Day
All CIEE staff around the world has been encouraged to participate in a CIEE Day of Service and spend a day helping out in the local community. All of the Study Center staff hascontributed to Madrid charities in various ways – both individually and as a team--. The student services and housing coordinator joined the local foodbank, Banco de Alimentos, to collect groceries in the month of November. They collected nearly 3000 pound of food that will be organized and distributed to many Spanish families who have been hit by the economic crisis here in Spain.
Sending you our best wishes for 2016!