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16 posts categorized "Student"


La Leche? Food in Madrid

By: C. Gallati (U. South Carolina)
The barista looks over her shoulder at me as she finishes pulling the shot of espresso for my cortado, her question hanging in the air for only a second. "Caliente." I reply, digging into my pockets for a loose euro.
Spaniards treat their coffee like a tool, often opting to stand at the bar for just long enough to finish it before heading back into the streets. When it comes to ordering your coffee (always espresso, never drip) your choice of drink depends on the amount of milk you'd like and, as my barista had just queried to me, the temperature of the milk.  ES Chad coffee
For the steely eyed and steady handed, café solo will get you a shot of the black stuff with no adulterations. If you're like me and want the bitter edge of straight espresso softened some, café cortado will come "cut" with just a splash of milk. The ever popular café con leche is an equal part milk to match the espresso shot and is usually consumed as a breakfast drink (and sometimes making up the entirety of a Spanish breakfast). At the other end of the milky spectrum from café solo is the café manchada, a large glass of warm milk "stained" with a shot of espresso. And for those longing for the coffee of home (well, my home at least), a café americano will simulate a tall drip coffee by adding hot water to espresso. 
            And now, a lightening round for those drinks that exist a little more on the fringes of the Spanish coffee scene: 
  • Café con hielo: with ice (can be applied to any drink- solo, cortado, con leche, etc.). Especially popular in the summer.
  • Café bonbon: with sweetened condensed milk (!!!). 
  • Café carajillo: with brandy or whiskey, for when you're feeling more adventurous in the afternoon or evening.
  • Café descafeinado de máquina: decaf espresso. Leave out the de máquina and be  prepared to receive a warm glass of milk and a packet of powdered decaf coffee.

When the barista asks "the milk?" over the roar of the coffee grinder, she's referring to the temperature of the milk. Your two options are templada or caliente, room temperature or hot. Simple, right? This question also brings to mind the cultural significance of la leche (the milk) in the Spanish language. For example, ser la leche (to be the milk) can mean to be incredibly great or horribly awful, depending on the context. If this is confusing, think about an English equivalent like "sick". Mala leche (bad milk) can mean bad luck or a bad mood or temperament. It only makes sense that an ingredient with this cultural weight pairs so well with a drink that plays such an important role in the average Spaniard's day. Now that I've sufficiently showed my cards as a coffee addict, lets explore some other typical Spanish foods that are very much la leche (the good version). 

No, not the thing that comes wrapped around your burrito. In Spain, a tortilla is similar to an omelette or frittata with potatoes and onions. While they may have all sorts of ingredients, the most traditional (tortilla española) contains just eggs, potatoes, and onion. It’s made by frying off sliced potatoes and slightly caramelizing onions in a generous pour of olive oil before mixing them into scrambled eggs and returning the mixture to the same pan. ES Chad Tortilla
Halfway through cooking, a plate is used to carefully flip the tortilla so that the other side may set. A proper tortilla should be golden brown on the outside and soft and moist on the inside. This has quickly become one of my favorite Spanish dishes (no doubt a product of my love of all things eggs) and it has the added benefit of being a very cheap lunch when placed in the middle of a halved baguette to make a bocadillo de tortilla
If you order a drink in Spain, you can be sure that won’t be the only thing you’ll receive. Most Spanish bars and restaurants serve a tapa with every round of drinks, whether it be as simple as a bowl of mixed nuts or as extravagant as a slice of tortilla on toast topped with lettuce and tomato. While tapas have become synonymous worldwide with small dishes meant to be ordered in twos or threes, they aren't typically ordered in Spain and the selection is made by the bartender or waiter. ES Chad Tapas
They have their origins in old bars where legs of ham hung from the ceilings. To keep dripping fat from falling in drinks, bartenders would offer a plate to cover (tapa) the glass and naturally, some began offering small snacks to go on the plates. Clearly, this was popular with the patrons and the rest was history. For the best tapas in Spain, head south towards Sevilla and Granada.
Perhaps the most well known Spanish food worldwide is paella, a rice dish flavored with saffron (which gives it a distinct yellow color) and topped with any combination of seafoods, meats, and vegetables. It originated in Valencia and is typically cooked in a large, shallow pan over a wood fire. The most traditional paella contains rice, saffron, chicken, rabbit, duck, snails, beans, artichoke, and tomatoes. While you can get it all over Spain, most Spaniards tend to consider more of a Valencian dish than a Spanish dish. If you have a chance to have it in Valencia, it’s an opportunity you cannot pass up. Here is the paella that we ate while visiting Valencia. ES Chad paella
You and your friends are walking through Puerta del Sol, Madrid's version of Times Square, at around 3:00am (don’t ask me why you're here at this time, that’s on you) and your stomach growls. After a quick exchange of knowing glances, your party turns down a side street towards la Chocolatería San Ginés to get some of the best churros and chocolate on Earth. But Spain doesn’t play favorites with its pastries (pastels)- its love for sweet baked and fried foods is wide and far-reaching. When the sun comes back up, be sure to stop in La Mallorquina (also on Puerta del Sol) for the best napolitana (a sort of flat croissant filled with dark chocolate and topped with sugar) in the city. ES Chad napolitana
And each city has its own delicious creation:
  • Sevilla: Torrijas- imagine the sweetest french toast ever soaked in syrup
  • Granada/Santa Fe: Piononos- a cylinder of thin pastry fermented in different kinds of syrup and filled with toasted cream
  • Segovia: Ponche-  sponge cake layered with cream and wrapped in marzipan
  • Bilbao: Bollo de Mantequilla- a delicate bun filled with sweet butter paste
One could write an entire book on Spanish cuisine and there is no way I could capture it all in a single blog post. So come to Madrid and experience some of the world’s best food it in first person!


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



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.


Meeting Locals in Madrid

By: A. Dulan, Spelman College

This week, after my Tuesday class on campus, I attended the CIEE organized exchange called "Meet and Talk" with Spanish students.  There were snacks and drinks while we mingled with various Spaniards. I spoke to a student from Colombia who wanted to become a lawyer and was studying law and justice. This event took place in the language section of the main library so that CIEE students could meet and exchange emails with university students to meet again for language exchanges. We had to keep switching back and forth between Spanish and English with the help of "conversation questions" that were written on a piece of paper. This facilitated the flow of the dialogue a lot. IMG_1700 IMG_1699 IMG_1710
A couple of days later, on Thursday, I went to a beauty salon near my homestay to have a professional comb my hair. While I was waiting at the salon, I met various clientele and helped the hairdresser with her English. The owner ended offering me a job. I will be teaching English to her and the other girls who work at the salon because they could not communicate with customers who do not speak Spanish. I offered to teach them English free of charge, but they kept insisting that I should be paid for my time.

So far, my time in Madrid has been great!



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.


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


Going Underground in Madrid

By: P. Hoovestol (Stanford University)

Madrid has many surprises under its earth surface. Underground metro 1

Last week the CIEE group visited an old subway station in Madrid. This early twentieth century station closed down in the seventies and now no longer works, although metro trains still pass through the station. The station is now a museum. Underground metro 2 Underground metro 3
It was very interesting to see such an old station and compare it with the modern day technology that we use today. The public underground stations in Madrid are all new to me, because I'm new in this town, yet their vibe is quite cool. Underground metro 8

Upon reflection, I do think that the overall design and structure of this old station resembles metro stations today. A visual difference that we talked about was that the walls and ceilings were made of many tiles that you can see individually placed. Modern stations are not made of these tiles anymore and texture of contemporary station walls are smoother. Here is a picture of a new, more recently built Madrid metro station. Metro madrid crowder

Another underground surprise was the basement café of a chocolateria in down town Madrid, near Plaza Sol. We ordered chocolate con churros, a well-known Madrid delicacy. Together with the CIEE group we had some of this sweet chocolate in the form of a beverage. Alicia 1 Churros Alicia 3 Churros.

It was the Spanish equivalent of U.S. hot chocolate. Yet the Spanish version is incredibly thick and creamy and you are supposed to dip“churros” and “porras” into the hot chocolate. Churros and porras are essentially the same thing, a sort of fried dough pastry.


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







My Adventures in Madrid: A Personal Impression So Far

By: S. Williams – Harvey Mudd College.

This has been an extremely long, wonderful, and exhausting few weeks in Madrid. Still, I’m feeling pretty good. Sophia 4

First, I’ll tell you guys a little bit more about my school. I only had classes at the university on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. I have taken course work in Advanced Spanish language, and classes with Spanish students in Control Engineering, Integrated Circuits and Microelectronics, and History of Art. On Wednesdays, I spent the entire day at my engineering internship. So far all of my classes are going very well. Sophia 3

One of the main differences is that, unlike Mudd, homework isn’t graded. This means that I am responsible for doing all of the work by myself. I am excited about the laboratory sessions and hands-on work. My internship started off very well. I think that the company is innovative and that I have been doing some exciting work.  My final presentation for the internship course was on "Solar Energy and how it can improve the economy in Spain" Solar energy

I’ve been to a couple of places. I went to Salamanca with several other American girls from CIEE. We visited the University of Salamanca. It is one of the oldest universities in the world. Salamanca Sophia Williams

We stayed the night in a hostel in Salamanca (Revolutum Hostel, if you need a recommendation). It was very clean and modern. In our night in the city we enjoyed the night life in Salamanca. We went to a discotheque called “Camelot”. It was very medieval. There were even tapestries lining the walls… lols.  Below is a picture of Salamanca from a bridge right outside the old city center. The large building on the right is the cathedral. We went and explored inside of the cathedral and it was as humongous and beautiful as it looks from the outside. Salamanca 2

I guess I should mention the part where my computer stopped working. On Monday I got back from school and I went to turn on my computer but it was dead. It was not charging. It was broken. I was pretty sure that the battery and/or the logic board were busted. The closest Apple store was an hour train ride and 30 minute walk away from my house in Madrid. Metro map of Madrid

So I was without a computer until I could take it to the store on Saturday. After getting lost twice and walking across a freeway exit, I finally made it to the store. Then the Apple tech guy simply took my computer, plugged in his charger, and my computer magically started working again. I was furious, but happy that it was working. It turns out that Apple computers have a SMS chip that prevent it from charging when the computer experiences a sudden change in the MagSafe power adaptor.  Unfortunately, two days after the computer was fixed, the same thing happened again. I immediately went to the Apple store and they told me it was abnormal for it to happen twice in such a short time period. They fixed it and told me to come back if it happened again. Twenty minutes after I got back to my room, it stopped working again.  I have an appointment tomorrow at 7:45pm. Sophia 1

Still, I’ve managed to have a lot of fun. CIEE organized a trip to Alcala de Henares, the birth place of Miguel de Cervantes. Cervantes is the author of the famous Spanish book Don Quijote. We visited Cervantes’s house and took pictures with the statues of his famous characters, Don Quijote and Sancho Panza (My friend Stephanie and I). Alcala Stephanie Do and I

Along with seeing churches, storks, and the University of Alcala, we visited the Monasterio del Corpus Christi. The nuns in the monastery live in complete isolation and are not allowed to see anyone from the outside world. However, they make and sell sweets to make money for the monastery. The way they sell these treats is the interesting part. To buy their candies you approach a lazy Susan on the wall and you greet the nuns. Lazy Susan
Then you ask for the candy and place your money on the lazy Susan. The nun on the other side will spin the lazy Susan and give you your candy and change. This is done without ever seeing the nun’s face. The candies almonds are called "almendras garrapiñadas" in Spanish. Lazy Susan 2

Then on Saturday before going to the Apple Store, I went to a Manga exhibition in Madrid with two of my American friends and three Spanish students. It was strange that my first Manga exhibition was in Spain. Manga 1
We waited in line for two hours in the rain for tickets. But I think it was worth it for the chance to finally drink bubble tea again. Manga weekend Manga 2