It is hard to believe that we are already passed the mid mark of the semester. Students have been going to class and also taking advantage of the many opportunities in Madrid. Here are some of our recent news items.
Urban Art Walking Tour in Madrid
Students had the opportunity to visit an area of Madrid known for urban art and cultural diversity. Touring the streets with a CIEE guide, the group had the opportunity to discuss recent phenomena such as the ethnic diversity as a result of being the home for many different immigrants of varied origins, and the gentrification of an area that gained a terrible reputation 20 years ago and now is the most attractive area of the city to live in. Students also met an artist who works with recycled materials and listened to the rehearsal of a music band.
Weekend Excursion to Northern Morocco
Students participated in a three-day overnight excursion to the northern region of Morocco where they met with local peers for a walking tour of Tangier, a guided meeting with immigrants from other African countries, a traditional rice meal with a Moroccan host family and a ride on camels. Students also had free time to visit local markets and see some of the colorful architecture. Several participants commented on how this experience changed their view of an Islamic country and were impressed with the respect for the country´s leader, the King. One student questioned the ethical issue of an American student riding a camel because the concern was that may not be the custom in the country. Bothe the tour guide and resident staff explained that this is part of the tourist image of the country that also helps the local economy profit from foreign visitors.
Language Exchange with Spanish Students
As a way to foster more community integration, CIEE colaborates with a local language academy which links CIEE students with Spanish university students. Students mingle with students by changing meeting tables and have a set of cards with questions. As soon as the session started students started talking and the cards were no longer needed.
Day Trip to Toledo
Students visited the medieval city of Toledo, which has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site and is a place known for its delicious marzipan sweets. The first stop was at the old Roman bridge of Alcántara over the Tajo River. Other stops included the old hospital of Santa Cruz (now a museum of religious art) with its beautiful entrance, the Plaza de Zocodover (where the Muslim market took place), the Alcazar, or Fortress, with its four different facades, and the 10th century Mosque next to the city walls. Students enjoyed seeing a smaller city that is part of the rich geographical diversity of Spain. The participants had free time for lunch to explore some of the city. The CIEE students also got a guided tour of the Cathedral with its impressive Greco paintings. They learned about Toledo's main tradition (Corpus Christi). We also visited the Museum of El Greco located in a reproduction of his own house, and the Museum Sefardí, one of the remaining synagogues that now houses the Spanish Jewish Museum.
Mid-Semester Resident Director Meeting
At the end of October, students met at the Study Center to meet with the RD to discuss various topics related to their adaptation to Madrid. One key question was to reflect on how much participants already felt how they had changed? In particular, students discussed how they view cultural patterns of time, professional conduct, academic success, etc. by comparing this to their lives in Spain and that back in the United States. The RD also gave health and safety updates because of the Halloween weekend when many venues have dance and dress up parties. Students were reminded of bystander strategies and collaborating with one another as well as ensuring that they help each other make good decisions. Each student also completed individual meetings with the RD regarding their academic progress and reporting back on each of their classes. Some students do not like having to commute by train to the university campus even though some only have to travel to class twice a week only at the host university.
Center Director co-leads Forum on Education Abroad Half-Day Workshop
The Center Director co-lead a professional workshop with a team of resident staff and U.S. study abroad colleagues at the European Conference of the Forum on Education Abroad in Athens, Greece. The workshop title was “After the Paris Attacks: Working with Students Facing the “New Normal.” While grounded in the Standards, specifically Standard 8, this workshop has been developed to expand upon the webinar of the same name offered in January 2016 by The Forum. This event provided participants an opportunity to explore emergency preparedness in the current context in which many study programs operate. Other topics that were addressed included U.S. federal regulations (Clery, Title IX, VAWA) and how European colleagues could consider these in their operations.