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3 posts categorized "Science"


Learning about Roman Engineering in Spain: Past and Present

By: J. Jansky (Berea College)

One of the first CIEE activities for my language class this semester included a visit to the National Archeaology Museum in Madrid to learn how the Romans influenced the history of Spain. The Romans were amazing engineers.  Alicia 6 Alicia 7The museum has recently undergone a renovation and it now has a special section dedicated to this legacy of Spain. I liked the showcase of technology that the Romans used to break rocks for construction. In fact, they used steam to break rocks. Very impressive. The method that the Romans used to make buildings here in Spain is still visible today. They did things that aimed to last long time.

Other aspects of Roman society that you observe today in Spain include a respect for the past and the dead. Statues are everywhere, even today.  Alicia 11 Alicia 12

The Romans had an organized government in Spain and were proud of their society. Inside the museum we saw statues of the first Spaniards who had themselves immortalized in Roman style sculpture. In the markets we saw how fresh food is highly valued and very common. Roman artifacts tillage and hooks reminded me of this. The way in which the Romans created their legacy in stone and marble buildings is similar to the way modern Spain maintains its cultural image. The coffins and gravestones were beautiful and impressively decorated.  Alicia 13
Alicia 8

It also seemed obvious to me that the current Spanish values of ​​a pleasant life style are very similar to the way the Romans approached it during their times.  I enjoyed looking at the artifacts from the kitchens, bathrooms and tiled floors were evidence of the attention to beauty and pleasure. Alicia 14


Madrid Hospital Internship in Internal Medicine

By: K. Hagan (Villanova University)

During my first week of classes in Madrid I started doing my internship in a private hospital, north of the city. This hospital has many new technologies. All week I was very nervous because I thought I needed to have a final interview with the doctor who would be my direct supervisor. I practiced my answers to the possible questions that I thought the doctor was going to ask me. But when I arrived at the hospital I only talked to the doctor for a minute, he was super busy.  The doctor´s assistant took me and I went to get a white medical robe. Then the doctor needed to teach a class out and left me with another internship student from Germany who is doing her hospital practice there too. She took me and we went to find one of the other doctors who are in the internal medicine team. I observe the doctor during his office hours during patient appointments and then we do walks around the hospital and visit patients.

The photo below is on the first day, going to meet my supervisor, travelling in public transport and walking to the hospital.   Hospital de Madrid 2 Hospital de Madrid 1

I have to admit that I left the hospital after my first day a little overwhelmed but I liked a lot.  My Spanish improved greatly since the first day. I can understand most of what the doctors and patients say. Yet I still have some problems with patients who have accents from places like Andalusia or when they speak very fast with slang expressions. All the doctors have been very friendly with me. Many of them want to know where I am from and I ask me what I want to do with my life. One of the Spanish doctors said I should not be a doctor because I will lose many other opportunities in my life.  He insisted that I must be sure that I want to do this profession before going to study a degree progam at a medical school. That was a bit strange to hear at first, but I found it good advice. I know that attending medical school in the United States is hard and requires a big life commitment.

During my second week at the Madrid hospital, one thing that was very apparent to me is the difference with many hospitals in the United States. At my internship site, each hospital room has only one bed and only one patient whereas in the United States many of the rooms have two beds. When I asked my supervisor, the doctor, he explained that this was typical for a private Spanish hospital. If you go to a public hospital in Madrid, the rooms can have two or three beds in each room. In addition, the doctor told me that the nurses in my hospital are more affectionate with the patients and have an ability to do their job effectively. That was very interesting to me because I did not know that there is a big difference between public and private hospitals.

I also went to visit a public hospital as part of my regular university course at Universidad Carlos III, called “Anatomy and Physiology.” Together with my other classmates, we were in this other hospital for four hours and we spent time with  a doctor who was an adolescent psychiatric expert. This hospital was near the Retiro park and it was very different from my internship site. Kendal Hagan Madrid 1The public hospital infrastructure seemed much older, darker and not nearly as clean and beautiful as the private hospital where I do my internship. The differences between the two hospitals were a little sad but it is possible that the differences were only because the public hospital does not have enough money. In the United States, it seems to me that hospitals also have a very difficult time to raise money, especially heads of hospitals need to have new technologies at their work site so they can convince people to donate money. I still have two more months to go in my hospital internship and here in Madrid, so I hope to reflect and learn a lot more. I have already met a lot of people in the process. Kendall Hagan Madrid







The Incredible Blip: Work and Play

By:  J. Marquis, University of California - Berkeley

Blip was incredible! I have always been interested in working outside of the U.S. and was eager to see what the workplace is like in other countries.

ZZ Blip Visit 1

Visiting Blip was an extremely valuable experience. It is one of the fastest growing engineering companies in the Iberian peninsula. Their main area of work is web-based programming for various global firms. The headquarters is based in London but they operate in different countries. We met with Sofia Reis, Head of Operations at the Blip office. She explained how the company is quite unorthodox in its work approach and try innovative new ways to do business and engineering.

Their goal is to be the best place to work and, in my opinion, they achieved it. The workplace was very reminiscent of a bay area tech start up company with some added European perks (such as a free kitchen and free food).  My favorite part about the company was the atmosphere there. It was all open space. No walls or closed offices.

ZZ Blip 3

Also, it was very group based and inclusive. Everyone was interested in others work and successes. It was very typical there for everyone to start clapping and shouting when someone accomplished something. All of the project groups were themed and some people even had costumes (such as a big Mexican sombrero) in their work corner. The Blip rep explained that staff members can write down ideas on big boards plastered on the various walls so that the whole department can look and share ideas about a problem or an issue an employee is working on.

ZZ Blip 2

During the company visit our group also learned how Blip employees are expected to determine their own work schedule and how they can decide on their own when they want to take a break. Many employees often take a short break from their workstation so that they are able to think through a programming problem on their own or with other people in the office. There is a music room, a video screen, a kitchen with free delicacies, etc. where staff can go and “brain storm.” This goes into contrast with some of the local labor laws where a company has to record and register when employees take an official break and what time is dedicated to work. Rather than following a strict labor code, this company is very flexible and open-minded about work habits.

ZZ Blip Coach
One unusual part of the visit was seeing the non-traditional conference room that fits up to six employees. Rather than sitting around a desk in a room, staff have the option to sit in a stage coach (from a Western film!). The idea is to make employees “go back in time” and transport themselves back to the old West of the U.S.. In this stage coach they can start to imagine how people would have resolved a problem while exploring new frontiers. The stage coach is meant to push employees to be more creative and think through problems in a relaxed, unusual atmosphere. 

All in all, it seemed like a company that actually cared about its employees and their happy work fulfillment and in return they seemed to really appreciate that.

I would love to work at a place similar to Blip.