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Newsletter # 2: Engineering and Society - Spring 2016


It is hard to believe that the semester is flying by so fast. CIEE staff has been following an extensive cultural agenda for participants in the spring Engineering and Society program; and we would like to share some highlights from the past few weeks.

Night out at the Theatre with the Joven Compañía

Participants attended an optional night out at the Theatre of the musical drama “Hey Boy, Hey Girl” performed and sung 100% in Spanish.  The Joven Compañía, or Spanish Youth Company , consist of actors who are under 24 years old and perform classic plays such as Shakespeare´s Romeo and Juliet with a modern musical twist. Students who are enrolled in the Spanish Language course got extra credit for writing a review on the performance. ES teatro Hey Boy Hey Girl
Day trip to regional province of La Mancha

On a Friday, CIEE organized a private bus from Madrid to a regional area called La Mancha to learn more about the life in rural villages and the social design of Manchego society. In addition to a guided tour of a medieval theatre, students ate typical food dishes from the local cuisine in a restaurant and visited a medieval windmill of the region where they learned how it functioned. Engineering students were particularly impressed by this Arab invention and its practical design to grind. CLM number 2 ES La Mancha CLM number 3 Lamancha

Weekend Excursion to Andalucia

Each semester the student group visits a regional area of Spain to learn more about the complex national identities of Spain.  In the second month, the group went for a three-day exucursion to Andalucia in Southern Spain and visited the regional capital, Sevilla. This was a very popular trip, led by CIEE staff, because participants really enjoyed that it included a guided bike tour of the city and an overnight stay for two nights in a 4 star hotel. Students also visited the famous Plaza de España where Star Wars was filmed, bought sweets from a local convent, entered the royal castle of the Alcazar, and had a tapas night with local Sevilla students. Segovia Castle 2
Gracie gerron

Visit Favorite Neighborhoods with CIEE Staff

CIEE staff in Madrid lives in different neighborhoods of the city and enjoy many cultural offerings away from the tourist attractions. Each semester individual CIEE staff show off their favorite spots in their “hood.” This semester, a group from Engineering and Society students visited the barrio Salamanca located near the Plaza Colon in Madrid; the immigrant area of Lavapies; the urban art in Malasaña and a local pueblo outside of Madrid. They explored trendy coffee shops, museums, theatre and tapas bars and also stopped to see the Centro Cultural de la Villa (see photo below). On another day, the housing coordinator took a group to visit a local pueblo and students visited the construction of a new holy shrine and learned about construction designs using recycled materials.Barrio Salamanca Mejorada 4 Lavapies Tour 5

Mid-Semester Academic Meetings

All engineering and science students meet with the Resident Director to review their academic progress and participation in classes in their second month of the program. The RD meets individually with students in his office to hear from participants on how they are managing the work load for classes, the interaction with professors and advise on their overall academic experience. The CIEE program has also arranged for a weekly teacher-led tutorial and students comment that this has been helpful as they prepare for their final exam. Uc3m visit 2

Homestay Training

Our students are placed in homestay in the city center of Madrid, near metro stations and easy public transport access.  Our housing coordinator has been busy organizing many projects, including the addition of a new housing option of student apartments in the city.  She also organized three evening sessions for new homestay “meet and greet” opportunities as well as two-hour training sessions. Themes covered in our sessions, were co-led with the residents directors, who also shared student trends as well as discussed non-verbal communication and exploring ways to improve the cultural communication between students and hosts. CIEE staff also visits each homestay annually to review and check on health and safety standards in the housing, ensuring that smoke alarms, fire escapes, etc. are in working conditions. ES homestay training

Semana Santa – Easter Holiday Break

The Easter Holiday break in Spain is one of the longest school holidays in the country. CIEE students get 10 days to plan and explore many parts inside and outside of Madrid. In preparation for this break, the Resident Director holds his monthly meeting a few days before classes stopped and explained the meaning behind Semana Santa, reviewed some cultural activities of interests that were being offered in the city. Another part of the presentation focused on health and safety reminders (especially for students who planned to travel to other European countries).  Participants filled out a more detailed travel form than the standard weekend travel form and let staff know about their day-to-day whereabouts while travelling overnight away from Madrid. Many participants took advantage during this break to visit other parts of Spain, such as Barcelona, Bilbao and Granada (in the latter to see the Alhambra palace). Chad Gallati

World Wide Resident Director Training

CIEE organized an annual meeting for resident directors world-wide in Atlanta, Georgia in conjunction with the Forum on Education Abroad conference. The Center Director from Madrid attended 3-days of meetings with CIEE leadership and management to review operational protocols that included health and safety reporting as well as improving response mechanisms for mental health cases. CIEE staff attended from sites all over the world and also has ample opportunity to mentor each other in effective and best practices for student learning outcomes. RD world meeting ATL RD Atl 3


My Madrid Homestay

by S0phia Yamas

Columbia University


My homestay is next to the river, which is perfect for me because I like to run and the river is lined with running trails. My host family consists of a mom and a dad and a sister and a brother, something completely alien to me because in the United States I am an only child with divorced parents and have lived on my own on the opposite side of the country from my parents for a year and a half. It's great because the sister is my age and plays soccer, so I go to soccer practice with her when I have time and hang out with her friends and go to parties with her and we have things to talk about.

Sophia's host

My Spanish mom and dad often stay in the kitchen talking with me for a long time after dinner and I've learned a lot about Spanish culture from them. I ran a marathon in Barcelona during my stay with them, and they were sending me "Buen suerte!" and "Eres campeon!" on WhatsApp. When I got a fever afterward they took me to the hospital even though it was 10:30 at night because my host mom was worried. They even lent my friend and I snow gear when we went skiing for a weekend and didn't have any. They had extra tickets to a private tour of the Reina Sofia from my host mom's work so they brought me. Earlier in the semester I had only seen the part with Guernica, but seeing another part of the museum made me realize that it's a really great museum and I want to go back as much as possible. My host family has been an integral part of my study abroad experience in Madrid, and I don't know what I would do without them.



By: M. Pakonen (University of St. Thomas)

The best part about living in Madrid is that you are in the center of the country and in the capital where all the forms of transportation are at your fingertips. One weekend, CIEE staff gave us an opportunity to go to a city called Seville. This city is gorgeous and is also a good city to do study abroad because it has a wonderful campus right in the heart of the city.


We left Friday morning and traveled via the highspeed AVE Renfe train and then had a few tours of the city.  The group did a bike tour of the historic center, visited the Gothic cathedral, bought cookies from a cloister, explored the vanguard Seta structure and discovered the Fine Arts Museum among many other things. This was my favorite trip of the whole semester so far because of one reason: my mother studied abroad in Seville with CIEE when she was in college!!!

  Patio de naranjos

This is why I chose Spain: because I wanted to walk where my mother had walked so many years ago. Even though I decided to study in Madrid, when we went to Seville, I could understand why she loved the city so much. It felt like home, and I could feel the bright futures evolving. So, when I went to Seville, I made sure to go to the barrio she lived in and go to the university she studied in. But, my favorite part was thinking: OMG, my mom walked here when she was my age.


She saw these same things and heard the same sounds as I’m hearing now, but so many years ago when I wasn’t even in the realm of ideas she had for her future. This also made me think about wanting to explore other places in the world.


So many things have changed, but so many things are still the same in Seville. And amazing world explorers have walked where we are walking at this very moment. People in the time of Christopher Columbus have came up with the idea of gravity or understood why the sky is blue in the same place that I’m sitting and writing this blog. People have fallen in love where I fell in love with Spain. So maybe, because I’m in a world where everything is so close and in reach, that I’ll have as bright as a future as my mom did, and ace my classes, and fall in love, and have children who travel the world and walk where I once walked.


I still can’t understand why life happens, but I know that life is spectacular and the fact that I got the guts to travel has made it a much better life indeed.


Spring 2016: Newsletter Engineering and Society in Madrid Spain



This spring we have sixty percent of participants who are women. This notable gender difference may be unique for STEM students who study abroad in Spain, but we are very pleased with their enthusiasm.  The airport pick up went very smooth as CIEE staff had arranged for a private bus to coordinate a courtesy pick up at 11 am. There were no flight delays and no problems with luggage, so student arrived at their homestays before lunch time.  The students had a several days of orientation activities that included exploration themes in central neighborhoods of Madrid: a guided walking tour of the historic area of Spanish Golden Age authors, a museum discovery activity of “curious and obvious” objects in Madrid´s archeology institute and an architectural expedition to the Royal Palace (the largest palace in Western Europe). ES new arrival ES royal palace visit
Objectives and Expectations

Another practical part of the orientation is a reflection session, led by CIEE staff, on student´s personal and group goals. The one hour session explores expectations and challenges that participants may face during the spring 2016 semester. Students were separated into groups into one of the spacious student lounges at the Study Center. The engineering students came up with a long list of possible barriers for integration during their spring semester (such as not possessing enough Spanish vocabulary, staying in an American bubble of friends and a fear of failing a class in a different education system). Once the list was written up, the students shared this with the others in the room. Together with the CIEE staff, the students came up with suggestions, advice and resources on how to overcome some of the aforementioned barriers in a positive manner. Goals

Intensive Spanish Language Class

This semester we had three levels of Spanish (beginner, intermediate and advanced). The advanced level group was the largest class and they participated in extra-curricular activities, such as a local visit to a fruit and vegetable market where students had to interview vendors about the products they were selling; and preparing and asking survey questions on the street  by approaching locals on how to get directions to some famous sites in the city and recommendations for cultural activities. This 40 contact hour course is led by experienced local Spanish professors with master´s degrees in Spanish language and linguistics who have worked for several years with U.S. college students.

Academic Registration

All the STEM students received a list of popular engineering classes and read past student evaluations with comments about direct enroll courses.  After a group session on the academic expectations, teacher communication styles and UC3M classroom norms, each student met separately with the Resident Director.  All students reviewed the access to their new student account, course schedules, pre-requisites and host university norms. This semester students are enrolled in Fluid Mechanics, Airport Security, Statistics, Discrete Math, Cryptography, Artificial Intelligence, to name a few.  As part of their cultural course work participants are also enrolled in Intercultural Communication and Leadership, Art History, Film Narrative and Contemporary Spanish History. All the resident director meetings took place in the Study Center. In addition all students accompanied CIEE staff on a campus tour that included instructions on the various ways to reach the university in public transport as well as completing the registration for direct enroll courses at  the university campus is a CIEE-reserved computer room. Registration 2 ES train 4 ES train 3 ES train  1

Health and Safety

Currently there are no health and safety alerts in Madrid; however, the news media in the U.S. and other countries have focussed a lot of attention on the emerging Zika virus that is transmitted by mosquitos in tropical areas.  CIEE staff circulated an email with relevant information regarding the Zika virus albeit there have been no cases reported in Madrid. As part of our orientation, CIEE staff has explained the use of English medical facilities in Madrid, reviewed CIEE protocols regarding our 24-hour local emergency phone that is operated by CIEE resident staff, the emergency phone  tree and the implementation of an emergency evacuation plan when this becomes necessary. All students received this information and important phone numbers in their welcome packet.  The CIEE Study Center is in close contact with the U.S. Embassy regarding health and safety issues and also explained to our students how to register for the SMART program (which is an optional U.S. citizen registration site that is managed by the U.S. State Department). 20160127_195502 20160127_204357
Finally, all CIEE participants completed a two-hour workshop led by all CIEE staff on Bystander Intervention, with a special focus on Madrid and the help of our Spanish student network. The Spanish peers participated and mingled in our group exercises and reflection. One part of this workshop also had a discussion by our housing coordinator, Patricia Witzig, who discussed issues of consent in both a U.S. and Spanish context.  The CIEE teacher for Intercultural Communication also discussed body language and hand signals that may lead to “cultural mishaps." Overall, we received very positive feedback from our participants on what is a a very sensitive and controversial topìc. After the session CIEE staff was available to meet with students if they wanted to ask individual questions or if the required resources for further counseling.

Throughout the semester we will keep you and our students posted. Many saludos from Spain!


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. 10th Anniversary Staff Photo

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.  20151023_144626_HDR 20151023_135719

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. BCN 6
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. BCN weekend 2015 BCN 1 BCN 8Homestay 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... TG5

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. TG 1 TG3 TG 2

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. School farewell 2 School farewell 1CIEE 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. CIEE Volunteer Day

Sending you our best wishes for 2016!


Visiting Spain´s Controversial Civil War Memorial

By: F. DuBose - Harvard University

I went on a program day-trip outside Madrid with Sonia, our student services coordinator, and some other CIEE students.  We arrived at the national historic site El Valle de los Caídos, or Valley of the Fallen, which is a controversial Spanish Civil War memorial. The size of the construction was stunning. The plaza could easily fit a couple of football fields, and the building stretched out far along the face of the mountain and rose high above us. It was deceptive in its magnitude. In the pictures below you can see the stone structure compared to some tourists. Valle de los CWe explored the far end of the plaza where we could see some towns in the distance and enter the forest that surrounds Valle de los Caídos, but soon turned around to enter the actual monument.  20151023_154331_HDR There was a security gate to pass through just inside the door, with a second door that obstructed a view of whatever was further inside the mountain. After going through security, we entered into a massive hall that reminded me of Hogwarts’ Great Hall from the Harry Potter novels. My first thought was that it would make a great event venue, either for a concert or a ball of some sort. The very center of the intersection was a large communion table on a raised circular platform. On either side of this platform were large stone slabs laid into the floor with flowers placed on them – the graves of Primo de Rivera, founder of the fascist party in Spain, and Francisco Franco, the dictator who ruled Spain from 1939 to 1975. 20151023_155138Before coming to Spain I knew very little about Spanish history, but in my time in Spain I observed that there is a very strong negative sentiment toward Franco for what he did. Being mere feet above the corpse of somebody who caused so much pain and suffering in Spain was chilling.  Our group knew that Franco and Primo de Rivera were buried there before we arrived, but seeing their graves in person was still powerful. I took a seat in a pew and was just trying to soak everything in when a man who had been walking down the aisle stopped abruptly in front of Primo de Rivera’s grave and gave a Roman salute – his arm straightened and pointed up at an angle. My heart nearly stopped. The attendant in the church immediately came up to him and told him he could not do that here. The man then walked around the center circle to Franco’s grave and paid his respect, this time without a salute. Sonia pointed out to me that this man´s shirt cuffs and collar had the colors of the Spanish flag and explained that in certain contexts these colors are still closely associated with Franco and his supporters. The man walked into one of the chapels briefly, returned to Primo de Rivera’s grave where he once more paid tribute, and left. I was shocked at this display of support for Franco. Until this point I had only heard negative opinions of him, and while I of course knew in the back of my mind that there had to be some Spaniards who supported him I figured I would never come into contact with those people. If I felt chilled when I saw Franco’s grave, seeing this man’s salute sent a shiver down my spine. I recognize that I do not know enough about what Franco did to his country, but the fact that I have almost exclusively heard Spanish people say they do not like Franco made me uncomfortable in the presence of this man who supports Franco to this day. El Valle de los Caídos was spectacular in a visual sense. 20151023_135719Everything outside is enormous and appears pretty, and the inside of the memorial is incredible in its engineering and construction. Before seeing it, I had heard that many Spaniards would never visit the site and have negative sentiments for it. After visiting it myself and seeing the significance that it still holds for supporters of Franco, I feel that I understand the popular Spanish sentiment very well and would absolutely agree that the monument, while stunning, holds a darker significance.  The amount open space at this War Memorial was overwhelming, especially considering it was carved from the inside of the mountain, and the walls were beautifully decorated with art. At the other end of the hall was a church where Sonia explained that services are held regularly. The layout of the interior was in the shape of a cross, and while we had entered through the bottom of the cross the church was found in the intersection of the two beams. There were small chapels on the two ends of the cross that point to the left and the right, and in the top of the cross there was a choral section. 20151023_155202_HDR



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.


Fall 2015: Orientation Newsletter Engineering and Society

Welcome to our Madrid Fall 2015 start up! This semester we have a diverse group of students where sixty percent of our highly motivated STEM participants are U.S. college women whose majors vary from computer sciences, mechanical engineering, biology and industrial engineering.  The entire group has showed a lot of curiosity and enthusiasm in learning as much as they can about Spanish culture during orientation to help them with the integration process in Madrid. Orientation fall 2015 443
Cultural Activities

We started orientation with an introduction to health and safety issues as well as guided walking tours with Spanish students and the Resident Director who highlighted major landmarks in the city, such as the Puerta de Sol (see our group photo above) and the Plaza Mayor. Our students get an opportunity to understand the lay-out of the city and how to get around easily by using the metro system and the local busses. Students also participated in Spanish student activities to visit the Parque Retiro and get to know some of Madrid´s top museums.  Orientation fall 2015 447
One of the orientation “highlights” was our group activity to the Urban Playa Film Festival, a very popular outdoor summer movie series where old films are shown to a Spanish crowd. CIEE staff managed to get tickets for a sold out show of a “Sing-A-Long” with professional singers on stage while showing the 1978 film musical “Grease” with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. The film was dubbed in Spanish, but the songs were in the original English version and had subtitles in English so that the Spaniards in the audience could sing along with the film.  Orientation fall 2015 341 Orientation fall 2015 346
There were several live entertainers dressed up in fifties-style clothing on the stage and who encouraged the film crowd to sing along. Once they encountered our group of CIEE students and realized they were Americans, they the microphone to them so that they could sing along to “Summer Nights” and “Greased Lightning.” Orientation fall 2015 343
Several students mentioned to CIEE staff that they were surprised to learn how the crowd was captivated by American music and how popular Grease seemed to be for several Spaniards. One student commented that she did not realize the persuasive power of American culture that is transmitted through film. Afterwards, several studenst met up with the Spanish dancers from the live show. Orientation fall 2015 373

Spanish Intensive Language Course

All the CIEE students in the engineering program, regardless of their Spanish level, enroll in the CIEE Spanish Intensive Language course. This semester students were divided into two groups, beginner and intermediate level.  Students took nearly four hours of Spanish language class each day, which included breaks and interactive activities.  Students participated in teacher-led activities such as a street interview exercise where they had to ask local some questions about Madrid or look up landmarks on a city map. Orientation fall 2015 282
One afternoon, students visited the National Archeological Museum (MAN) where they selected a curious object and had to practice describing this object. In the photo below they are at the museum entrance together with their Spanish language professor, Raquel, who is seated.Orientation fall 2015 314 Other class activities included a visit to a local traditional market, the Royal palace of Madrid and the city´s history museum where studenst got to see models of the city´s geographical growth. Orientation fall 2015 293

Host University Visit: Leganes Campus Tour

After completing the two-week Spanish language intensive course, all students visit the Leganes campus of the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid where they will take regular direct enroll courses with other Spanish students.  On September 2 the resident staff took the students on a campus tour. Leganes is a working class area of Madrid and urban art is part of its many street corners. Students posed in front of one of the scenic walls across the Leganes campus grounds. Orientation fall 2015 461
The group had lunch together with CIEE staff in the student cafeteria, walked around the Leganes town center (filled with little bars, restaurants, supermarkets, kebab places). One of the favorite stops was at the university health and fitness center. Students got a “peek” of the university gym. For two weeks, the university gym has “open doors” that allows students to enter for free and try out the facilties, including an Olympic size swimming pool. Orientation fall 2015 467 Orientation fall 2015 463

 New Academic Feature: Teacher-led STEM Study Groups of Two to Four Students

This semester all STEM students are taking a variety of classes, including Industrial Automation, Fluid Mechanics, Linear Algebra, Systems of Architecture, Physics, User Interfaces, Discrete Math, Art History, Economy of Europe and Spain. One special feature of the Engineering and Society program is that we have special study groups that are organized in coordination with the Dean of the Leganes campus. Some regular classes already require group work, but this special Leganés campus teacher-led study group typically consists of two to four U.S. college students who are taking a university STEM course. The group meets once a week for an hour on campus during which students complete course revision and study the course material in preparation for the final exam and other tests. In most cases, the teacher of the study group is a different faculty member from the one assigned to teaching your regular course. Study groups will start meeting as of next week, September 14, for the duration of fifteen weeks.  The teacher meets student for an hour each week until exam time in December. If there is no study group for the course yet then the Dean of the Leganés campus will create one, even if the CIEE student is the only U.S. College student in that course. In that case the CIEE student would have a one-to-one tutoring with the university teacher. Orientation fall 2015 485

Bystander Intervention Workshop

On the last day of orientation, CIEE staff lead a required health and safety workshop on Bystander Intervention.  This semester many students already completed a bystander training at their home campus and this is great asset as students seem to be more aware of the characteristics and factors that are involved in stepping in when there are difficult or complex situations. The CIEE staff also invited Spanish students from our social network who help and participate throughout the orientation program. One section of the training included the analysis of consent and intervention as portrayed in a Blake Shelton country song video called “Sangria” which included several stereotypes about Spanish culture but also seemed a good learning tool to start discussion about what is acceptable in a culture (either the U.S. or Spain). The two-hour works shop also includes case studies that students assess in small groups and the get resource information before they leave the room.  Bystander Fall 2015
We will keep you posted this semester with a newsletter mid-semester and also at the end of year as our STEM students explore Madrid and the rest of Spain.




Our Engineering and Society program this Spring 2015 has ended with students achieving many intercultural skills and a deeper sense of Spanish values.

One of our science participants, Thendral, spent four hours each week in the university choir, coro Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, to learn a variety of classical songs in Spanish, German and Hungarian. The fifty singers, who the choir conductor selected after a rigorous audition, had trained very hard and then performed in the city center of Madrid at the historic venue, Círculo de Bellas Artes. Thendral was the only American and study abroad student in the choir. Concierto thendral 6
In early May, Thendral travelled with the same choir to perform in front a large public audience at the music conservatory in the city of Ourense in the region of Galicia (northwest of Spain). Not surprisingly, Thedral told CIEE staff that this experience was not just a fun activity to explore Spain, but it also made her appreciate the dilligent work ethics of her Spanish peers and reconsider the power of music all over again. CORO uc3m in Ourense


Student also learned that many Spaniards value popular traditions. Our third and final day trip was to the mediterrean city of Valencia, the third largest city in Spain.  The group came to see how Spaniards participate in Las Fallas that is a well-known tradition where small and large statues are placed on neighborhood corners. These art pieces were prepared by local guilds with an aim to give a social commentary.  Valencia 005
The day prior to our departure CIEE staff held a cultural workshop at the Study Center to explain the origins of this curious tradition since the Fallas statues are also set on fire on the last night of the festivities. During our trip our students tried some typical buñuelos, which is sugared dough and pumpkin. Valencia 027


The student evaluations for the homestays in Madrid received excellent ratings. Students also commented that they feel more confident using their Spanish and having to face cross-cultural communication. All participants commented on the healthy foods, welcoming atmosphere and good conversations they had with their hosts. CIEE placed a couple of STEM students who placed at the same Spanish language level in the same homestay (never mixing levels, but allowing students to give each other support in case they were beginner Spanish learners, for instance). Hosts also were aware of student´s Spanish levels and know to encourage students to keep trying to speak the language. Homestay hosts engaged students in many social activities, such as going for a coffee, going for a walk in the park, meeting family members, inviting them to a theatre play, some time at their weekend home outside Madrid and even taking advantage of the sunny weather this spring on an outdoor terrace. Spanish Family Outdoor


Participants participated in various interactive CIEE activities to explore their host city. Our student coordinator, Sonia, led a bike tour along one of Madrid's park near the Manzanares river.  She also created a custom-designed treasure hunt game where students had to visit and identify some key parts of Madrid that they may not have visited yet, such as certain statues in some beautiful local parks, tapas places in nice neighborhoods outside the city center, etc.  while completing different types of outdoor tasks.  Treasure Hunt S15 1 Treasure hunt s15 2 Bike Tour S15 1Bike Tour S15 2 Students said they enjoyed the challenge to explore the city on their own and realize that Madrid still had so much to offer -- even after being here for nearly three months. One student commented that a "check-box" mentality should not apply to study abroad in Madrid because she enjoyed revisiting places again and again. Our semester ended with a small farewell party and our student getting ready for their final exam at our host university. Several students met up for a last meal in a local Madrid restaurant. Final meal spring 2015

We´ll miss them all! Have a great summer.