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2 posts from October 2015


Mid-Semester Fall 2015 Newsletter-Engineering and Society

This is our second update for the fall 2015 semester. Students are going to their regular classes and signing up for the various cultural activities this semester.

Meeting Spanish Students at the American-English Language Exchange

CIEE staff has organized meeting sessions called American-English Language Exchange with local Spanish students who are interested in knowing more about the local experience of our students on their home campus and find out what are students identify as “American” culture. Several engineering students have joined in to meet Spanish peers and make social contacts after via Facebook to meet up for coffee at the campus cafeteria or even provide additional language lessons. AELE

Cultural Activity: Meet CIEE Staff in a Popular, Local Neighborhood of Madrid

Madrid has over 21 districts that incorporate many distinct and colorful neighborhoods.  CIEE staff try to plan activities where students get to look at a part of the city from a local’s point of view – one encounter that had several engineering students was to meet the resident director in Chueca neighborhood, a popular LGTBQ area and community. During the walking tour students learned about the visible and invisible cultural elements of a changing Madrid neighborhood. Chueca is very popular among young Spaniards for its tapas bars, rooftop venues and inexpensive eateries, etc. Rooftop bar
Students also learned that Chueca also has a fascinating political, religious and social history.  CIEE staff showed some curious architectural designs and also helped students formulate a deeper sense of why Spaniards like to live in Chueca and what this neighborhood means for most citizens.

Learning about Medieval Urban Planning: Day Trip to Toledo

Together with the Student Services coordinator, CIEE students explored areas of significant historic and cultural importance in Toledo on a Friday. They took the bus to Toledo, which is about 50 minutes south of Madrid. Students learned about the medieval city design and the small streets of the city that makes the history and impact of the three cultures in Spain (Jewish, Muslim and Christian) so fascinating. They all lived in close quarters. Participants also explored the nine hills of Toledo to learn and see what makes Toledo a UNESCO-world heritage site. 20150904_115906 20150904_115649Legacy of Roman Architecture: Day Trip to Segovia

Many students signed up to spend a full day in the northern city of Segovia, which has one of the best Roman “jewels” of water engineering works – the Roman aqueduct – that goes from the Guadarrama mountains all the way into the historic city center of Segovia. First we stopped for a cup of coffee and some breakfast at a local Spanish bar. Then we met our local tour guide who explained the significance of Segovia in Spanish history and then gave a more detailed technical explanation of the aqueduct. Students seemed very impressed by the durability of this aqueduct over the centuries. The group also visited the Alcazar palace, the Gothic cathedral and a few participants tried a typical local dish for lunch, cochinillo, which is a roasted baby pig. Segovia fall 2015

Professional Exposure in Madrid: Students Attending International Conference

Some CIEE students are taking advantage of visiting local conferences on science company start-ups, such as the recent conference being held in Madrid from October 7-9, called the South-Summit. With more than 7.000 attendees, including 3.500 entrepreneurs and 450 investors South Summit has become one of Europe’s most relevant startup up events. CIEE staff helped students to arrange for free tickets as students and many of them got to hear speaker such as Steve Wozniak, known as "Woz", an American pioneer of the personal computer revolution of the 1970s, Renaud Visage, co-founder of Event-Brite, a leading self-service ticketing platform and Gwynne Shotwell, COO of SpaceX, which provides space transport services. South Summit

CIEE Staff Training on Intercultural Competence

The Resident Director attended employee training with other CIEE colleagues from around the world at the Study Center in Amsterdam in mid-October. Part of this experience was to get a better grasp on intercultural communication tools while also improving on teaching strategies for one of the new CIEE course electives “Intercultural Communication and Leadership” (3 credits); the ICL course elective is offered to Engineering and Society students. It was great opportunity to share best practices and ideas with other CIEE colleagues on program delivery and student advising. The three-day training also included a guided walking tour of the Jewish Cultural Quarter in the capital city of the Netherlands that addressed the theme of how identity and memory are linked in monuments and oral stories of the Holocaust. We´ll implementing a similar tour with embedded cultural components here in Madrid as part of cultural agenda. Walking Tour Jewish area


Flexing My Food Familiarity

By: A. Chaplin, Claremont McKenna College

My study abroad semester in Madrid has been filled with learning opportunities. Anders in Madrid 2
My Madrid hosts, Andrés and Monica, are almost completely vegetarian. Fish is an occasional event, but garbanzo beans, lentils, cheese, quinoa, couscous, and rice are majority stake (steak, for a pun) holders for presence at the dinner table. I’ve never eaten a lot of red meat, but the lack of chicken and turkey has me missing Collins Dining Hall at my home campus. Yep, I am missing U.S. campus Dining Hall. Andrés is a yoga instructor, and Monica likes to watch YouTube videos about things like the Mayan calendar, lunar eclipses, and conspiracy theories. Andrés and I have compared the Spanish lifestyle to that of Americans and it is an at least a few ways drastically different. Spaniards don’t seem to ever really make solid plans; they’re schedules are permanently in a state of ambiguity. I don’t think Spanish work less because of laziness, they just aren’t haunted by ambition in the same way that Americans are. My host Andrés tells me that many Spaniards regard work as a fourth or fifth priority behind health, family, friends, relaxation, and overall happiness. Spanish are supporters of enjoying as much of life as possible and this usually translates to working a lot less. Perhaps it’s a style of living worth considering. With the exception of the vegetarian diet of my host parents, the eating style in Spain in general was challenging for me at first. Most Spanish absolutely love olive oil. It’s on everything, and I mean it seems to be on everything. In my home stay, we go through a bottle of olive oil a week. Most students on campus don’t eat lunch until 2 or 3 pm, and dinner isn’t usually until after 9pm. Anders coffee
Now that, I can tell you, is a struggle when you are used to American eating schedules. But meals are also a much longer event in Spain, as they are a means of socializing and spending time with friends and family. Going out for dinner can often be a three or four hour ordeal, and perhaps this may seem excessive. However, I think it also provides a nice contrast to treating a meal as a task, simply to fill one’s stomach before moving on to the next agenda item.