We want to share some of the cultural and educational opportunities in Madrid, and Spain that has been coordinated through our Student Life Office. The SLO staff meets regularly with our Student Representative Council, consisting of elected CIEE students from the current spring group who provide us with feedback on activities, classes, and overall programming. All students are doing well in their courses and have completed their midterm exams. Here are some other highlights from our semester so far:
Spanish Student Network
CIEE collaborates with many local university students who share modern furnished and WiFi enabled apartments with our participants, but also participate with our students in various cultural activities in the city. So far, some of the more popular activities with Engineering students have been the food tastings, bike tour in Madrid and the three day trips to UNESCO world heritage site of Alcala de Henares, the strawberry city of Aranjuez and a visit to a small village with locals outside of Madrid.
Overnight Excursion to Extremadura
Each semester the program has a weekend overnight trip to a region of Spain that allows students to explore the diversity of Spain. In mid-April the group visited the region of Extremadura, located in the South West of Spain by the Portuguese border. We visited the UNESCO world heritage cities of Mérida and Cáceres, and the picturesque town of Trujillo – which rank among Spain's most beautifully preserved historical settlements. Recent Hollywood productions have filmed storylines for Game of Thrones in Cáceres and Gladiator in Mérida. Participants also learned about current controversies in Extremadura where locals have protested the presence of a Nuclear Power Plant near the village of Almaraz that helps to provide electricity to a large part of the Spanish economy. One of the highlights was taking a guided kayak tour on a sunny Saturday afternoon to see and observe the local wildlife and fauna.
Health, Safety and Security: Self Defense Class and Pickpocketing
This semester, CIEE staff coordinated two sessions with a self-defense instructor who met with our student in the Retiro park after classes. The idea behind this class is for participants to learn and practice safe ways to get out of any potentially violent situations without getting injured.
Staff also added a safety session after they noticed an increase in students whose cellphones went “missing” by placing them for a few minutes on tables at outdoor terraces, or on cafeteria tables in museums as well as a few cases of pickpocketing while on the underground metro during busy periods. CIEE staff led an interactive session called “How to Avoid Pickpocketing in Madrid: Tips and Strategies” that was offered at different times and dates from April 2 to April 15. By using photographs of real life situations and a variety of conduct, staff asked the participants to give advice on how to avoid being a target of pickpockets in the various scenes from public transportation, parks, tapas bars, dance clubs, etc. CIEE staff also discussed with students how the buddy system was working and if there were better ways to enforce it.
Welcome to Additional CIEE Madrid Staff Members
Our team is growing. This spring we welcome two additional CIEE staff members, who are collaborating full time on various tasks and responsibilities that ensure a smooth running of our programs. We are especially pleased because it allows for additional interaction and support with our participants. Francisco Pascual, worked previously with CIEE Sevilla, and moved to Madrid to join our team in mid-March- as our receptionist and support administrator. Fran is now the first face that our students see when the walk into the Global Institute. He helps to advise students with local cultural resources, but also will lend an extra hand with arranging doctor´s appointments, filing insurance claims, organizing mail delivery, etc. Fran also joins on some of our student activities such as the bike tour.
Maria de la Huerga, is originally from Ibiza and a graduate of the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Maria spent a year living in California as part of a university exchange program and is thrilled to help organize various activities as program assistant with our Student Life Office. Here is Maria during the weekend excursion seated in front of a kayak during the river activity in Extremadura.