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3 posts from December 2014



We say a very fond farewell to our Engineering and Science students in Madrid! Before our amazing group of students left, we had a farewell event and party with our Spanish student network from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid.  All of us gathered at our new Study Center in the historic area of Madrid. One of the American students spoke to the group about her twelve week  hospital internship and explained what she learned as some of the key differences in Spanish and U.S. health care systems. Other students also stood up and said what they felt was the best part of their semester experience. Many of them mentioned it was their homestay experience, creating social bonds with their hosts and the opportunity to learn about a different culture while in Madrid. We served some tapas food and drinks in the spirit of the Holiday Season before we all said our goodbyes.

Thank you for a great Fall 2014 semester!

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Fish and Meat Encounters

By: J. Gilvey (Washington State University)

I am very fortunate to be in Madrid this semester. I have had many opportunities to explore the city and discover many aspects of culture and history. One of my first local visits was exploring the market called “Anton Martin,” a traditional shopping venue that is filled with small stalls and family vendors. When I entered the market, the first thing I noticed were the eyes of the various fish being sold here. There seemed to be fish eyes everywhere - there was no place to hide.  Jon G 1
I was surprised that in Spain it is typical to see the entire produce as it was caught on display to the customer. Similarly, an unexpected part of dining here is that in restaurants when you order fish, the whole fish is prepared in its entirety for you to eat. I'm used to eating fish cut into pieces but not with its eyes and scales still on it. The meat butchers in this market also fascinated me because I could not believe there was meat in such large pieces. JOn G 2A Jon G 2

In the United States, most of the meat is packaged in a very small portion, for individual consumption. It is rare to see large chunks of the whole animal there. For example, all parts of the animal were in the meat stall, including the heart and brains. Some of the other students who joined me on this exploration also enjoyed spending time at the herbalist, my favorite section of the market. Jon G 5
First of all, I enjoy drinking tea. I like to see the different options of tea. I was impressed that they sold it separately only- i.e. tea leaves were not packaged in sackets. Jon G 4
I think the lack of product packaging is a cultural difference that I did not expect to encounter in Spain. There seemed to be a variety of shoppers buying in this market. I saw some workers coming Anton Martin in their work clothes, some elderly and some women with children. However, everyone had one thing in common: they seemed to be very much as ease with this market and they seemed to know what they wanted to purchase. It is possible that some customers have a regular shop, and sellers know them personally.


Learning Language and Culture in Madrid

By: S. Ghazi (Carnegie Mellon University)

Living abroad as an engineering student is a rewarding experience. My typical routine during my first two weeks in Madrid had a clear focus on learning and improving my Spanish. I was pleased to be taking the Spanish intensive course. I would wake up around eight o'clock in the morning. That was around the time my host family also woke up.  Because I had to rush, my host would make me breakfast and we sat down to eat together. Then I´d go for my Spanish class at the Study Center. The Spanish class was from 9:00 to 11:00 am. Then we had a short break before going on a CIEE activity related to the course with our Spanish teacher.  Engineering students Fall 2014
Sometimes I visited the Retiro park with my new friends as the summer temperatures made this a good place to explore the city. Usually I would go home again around 7pm in the evening and meet up with my host family again. We talked about our day and they tried to help me a lot with my Spanish speaking skills. Then I would do my language homework, I would call my parents or watch TV. At ten in the evening we ate dinner. In addition to language, I also learned about Spanish schedules, food and habits by living with a host family. It´s been a great experience so far, different and enjoyable.