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8 posts from January 2012

01/30/2012

Attending mass in the Cathedral of Seville

This post is by Bess Stanisz, a psychology and sociology major at the University of Colorado at Boulder. During the fall 2011 semester she participated in the Language and Society program at the CIEE Study Center in Seville.

After spending almost three months in Sevilla, one weekend I finally had the time and woke up early enough to go to Sunday morning mass at the cathedral. Just a little background: I grew up going to a Lutheran church but I’ve been to services in many other churches of different affiliations, a few synagogues, one Buddhist temple and also mass at Notre-Dame. Religious affiliation aside, visiting the cathedral was still on my list of things to do in Sevilla.

Many services I’ve attended have varied from what I was used to, but for the exception of Notre-Dame, they all had one thing in common: I understood the language. Even in service at the synagogues, English was spoken and Hebrew was only used for a few prayers. To be honest, I was bored at the service at Notre Dame because I couldn’t understand what was going on. But this time was different. I have a base understanding of the Spanish language now and same with the Christian religion, so at least this time I didn’t fall asleep! 

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The cathedral in Sevilla

Continue reading "Attending mass in the Cathedral of Seville" »

01/26/2012

La búsqueda: Como encontré mi piso en Sevilla

This post is by Katy George, a journalism and Spanish major at the University of Oregon. During the fall 2011 semester she is participating in the Communication, New Media and Journalism program at the CIEE Study Center in Seville.

Leí las instrucciones garabateadas una y otra vez, pero no me sirvió de nada; no existía ningún cartel indicador. Estaba perdida en lo más profundo de Triana, y tenía que estar delante de aquel edificio en cinco minutos. 

Luego, vi a una niña de entre unos 8 o 9 años con su hermano menor jugando en la calle. 

“Permiso,” le dije, “pero ¿me puedes decir cómo se puede llegar a la Calle San Vicente de Paul desde aquí?”

La chica vio que yo estaba como loca. “Esta calle,” dijo lentamente, como si yo fuera tonta.

“Gracias,” susurré, y continué por el camino que ella me había indicado. 

Quince minutos más tarde, la agente inmobiliaria abrió una puerta para dejarme ver el piso más horroroso del mundo. En la cocina había montañas de platos sucios que llegaban hasta el techo. Luego, me mostró el salón. El salón sólo tenía dos tristes sillas muy viejas y un pasillo estrechísimo. Y la habitación libre no tenía nada más que una cama dentro de un armario. 

Inmediatamente comencé a dudar sobre si debería irme de la casa de mi señora o no.

Hace cuatro meses, casi exactamente, estaba yo subiendo las escaleras en espiral para ver mi nueva morada por primera vez. La verdad es que tenía miedo, y a la vez, también un poco de vergüenza por el peso de mi enorme maleta que el pobre de mi intercambio, me subió a lo largo de las tres plantas, al que cariñosamente llamo Chuqui. Pero mi nerviosismo no eclipsó mi entusiasmo—quería conocer profundamente a esta familia con la que me ha alojado. 

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Las escaleras de acceso un tanto peligrosas al piso de Asa.

Más tarde, en concreto doce semanas después, ya la he llegado a conocer un poquito mejor, y ellos se han convertido en mi familia verdadera. Mi señora Asa y su amiga Elisabeth son como mis tías y son de lo más divertido. Tanto Chuqui como Manolo, los hijos de Asa, son mis primos, siempre me están ayudando y animando con mis fotos, en la cocina, y con muchas cosas más. El piso de la Plaza de la Puerta Real, número 6, se ha convertido, en serio, en mi casa. Siento el mismo alivio cuando llego a la puerta después de un largo día el que siento al llegar a mi casa en Portland.

Entonces cuando llegó la hora de decir si iba a quedarme allí o mudarme a mi propio piso, me quedé como paralizada ante tal indecisión. La ruta fácil, conocida, cómoda era obviamente elegir continuar viviendo con las suecas. Pero no podía dejar de pensar en la aventura de buscar lo nuevo. Aunque sería difícil, y sabia que quería ir más allá.

Al principio, tenía miedo de sacar el tema con Asa y Elisabeth. No quería parecer desagradecida, porque la verdad es que me ha encantado vivir con ellas. Mi situación en su casa es de lo mejor. Pero como he salido de la casa de mis padres en los Estados Unidos, quiero hacer lo mismo aquí también.

Por suerte, Asa y Elisabeth lo entendieron perfectamente. Por ello, se lo dije durante el almuerzo, el momento en el que hablamos más cada día.

“Claro que tienes que buscar nuevas experiencias” me dijo Elisabeth sonriendo.

“Y si no encuentras nada fantástico, puedes quedarte aquí otra vez,” añadió Asa.

Así empezó la búsqueda de un piso en Sevilla, y dos días después me encontré en este piso tan espantoso en Triana.

Crucé el río con el corazón que pesada por las dudas que tenía. ¿Había cometido un gran error con lo que decisión que había tomado? ¿Debía llamar a CIEE y suplicarles que me dejaran vivir con Asa y Elisabeth otra vez?

Al fin y al cabo, me metí el resuello para dentro y seguí con mi búsqueda. Y por fin, la semana pasada, encontré una habitación libre en un piso justo al lado de la Calle Feria. Viviré con dos guitarristas de flamenco. Además, la cocina es grande y está muy limpia; el salón es amplio y cómodo. Y lo mejor de todo es que Asa y Elisabeth me han prometido visitarme y venir a cenar muy pronto.

01/24/2012

My experience as a "canguro"

This post is by Chloé Daniels, an English and Spanish major at the University of Iowa. During the fall 2011 semester she participated in the Liberal Arts program at the CIEE Study Center in Seville.

One of the best experiences I had while in Spain was the chance to be a canguro. My job as a canguro was to watch after a 2-year-old Spanish girl for one hour a day, five days a week, and speak English the entire time. Her parents want her to have an ear for English because next year she’ll be attending a bilingual school. Did I mention I got paid? Eight euros for an hour of hanging out with a 2-year-old. Not bad at all.

I played with Sofia for an hour a day—singing songs, coloring in giant coloring books, reading stories, making imaginary meals. I show her colors and when I say them in English she mimics me. After only a few weeks, she recognizes the color blue, can pick out a “monkey” from a group of animals, uses “please” and “thank you” and perfectly uses and contextualizes the phrase “Ooooh, careful!” She’s an adventurous, independent spirit. “Ooooh, careful” and “Whoopsies” are perhaps her favorite phrases due to my constant repetition of both.

I was so lucky to be able to do this; I honestly felt like I shouldn’t be getting paid because I love being a canguro so much. It was interesting to see how Helena, Sofia’s mom, and Sofia act together. Sofia wants to be just like her mom, who is a violinist, so Sofia also has her own violin. She’ll only play it when she’s in the same chair using the same music stand that her mom uses.

CIEE has seriously impressed me with the opportunities they offer to students. I never would have dreamed that I would be babysitting and teaching a little girl how to speak English. This, and many more of the opportunities I’ve taken advantage of here with CIEE, has really made me feel like I am getting the most out of this experience.

01/20/2012

Mis rincones favoritos de Sevilla

This post is by Lindsie Rowe, a media and communications major at the University of Washington. During the fall 2011 semester she participated in the CIEE International Business and Culture program.

La Plaza de España

La turista que hay en mí sale cada vez que voy a la Plaza de España. El vecino del hermoso Parque de María Luisa, esta pequeña joya es algo que se hace necesario visitar cuando se viene a Sevilla. Al llegar a pie o en carruaje tirado por caballos, los detalles que hay dentro de esta plaza son abrumadores y podría pasar horas contemplándolos. Uno puede optar por dar un paseo en barca por el estanque semicircular o simplemente quedarse boquiabiertos al admirar los azulejos que adornan esta maravillosa construcción llena de puentes y adoquines.

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01/18/2012

Museuming in Madrid

This post is by Sheila Bushman, an economics major at the University of Virginia. During the fall 2011 semester she participated in the Advanced Liberal Arts program through the CIEE Study Center in Seville.

I haven’t always liked museums. Growing up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. I was surrounded by the Smithsonian museums. Lucky me, you might think, but I never really thought so. I hated when my parents dragged me to these museums on the weekends only to have me stand around for hours, staring at a painted canvas. When I complained, my parents told me that I would thank them later. Furthermore, I didn’t understand why tourists came from all over the world to do that; it was bad enough that I had to come from 10 miles away, but they were coming from 1,000. But one weekend this fall, I became the tourist, travelling for miles to visit the Prado and the Reina Sofía in Madrid.

The first stop was the Prado at which we, as students, were escorted to the front of the line and gained free admission after 6 p.m. Feeling like VIPs, we entered the beautiful building, which contains artwork by Velázquez, Goya, and Picasso. The most impressive piece is “Las Meninas” by Velázquez, which depicts a scene from the royal palace of King Philip IV of Spain, from the point of view of the king and queen, in which Velázquez depicts the infant Margarita surrounded by her maids and two dwarfs. He also includes himself in the scene, painting a canvas. The point of view is perhaps what makes this piece the most interesting.

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"Las Meninas" by Velázquez

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01/16/2012

Un experimento en enseñar el otro inglés

This post is by Devon Shaw, a Hispanic studies, education and sociology major at the College of William & Mary. During the 2011-2012 academic year he is participating in the Teaching Development program at the CIEE Study Center in Seville.

Cuando empecé el semestre con el programa de Teaching Development, pensaba: “Tengo que enseñar inglés, mi lengua materna. ¡Qué fácil!” Cuando entré en el aula el primer día y hablé con acento americano, la clase estaba un poco confundida. ¿Por qué?, me preguntaba. Como España está en la Unión Europea, donde se aprende inglés británico. 

Las diferencias entre mi inglés y el de los estudiantes no eran tan grandes, y sabía que dentro de poco ya se irían acostumbrando a mi acento americano. Sin embargo,  las diferencias que había crearon situaciones muy graciosas más que malos entendidos. Antes de explicar mis experiencias personales, aquí están algunas distinciones entre el inglés británico (IB) y el inglés americano (IA): 

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01/12/2012

Grupo de interés: Conoce la verdadera cocina española

If you're a foodie, this Liberal Arts interest group is for you: Cultura española a través de la Gastronomía. Read more below from María Montes de Oca and check out photos from past group excursions.

La gastronomía española y, en especial, la popular dieta mediterránea, están unidas a la historia de nuestro país. En este grupo descubrirás cómo la actual cocina española es resultado del continuo intercambio de las civilizaciones que han vivido en España (el aceite de oliva introducido por los fenicios, las frutas, verduras y especias del mundo árabe, la patata y el tomate llegados de América…).

La comida forma parte de la cultura española y es el elemento clave de fiestas y tradiciones populares. Durante el semestre, conoceremos esta historia gracias a talleres, charlas, visitas a mercados, fábricas y escuelas, siempre acompañados de estudiantes españoles. El grupo ofrece un divertido viaje a Valencia donde aprenderemos a cocinar la famosa paella valenciana, pasearemos en barca en el Parque Natural de la Albufera y visitaremos el mayor Oceanográfico de Europa.

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Degustación de horchatas

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Sirviendo paella

Grupo Mercado

Mercado Central, Valencia

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01/09/2012

Flying solo

This post is by Yvonne Marquez, a magazine journalism major from the University of Texas at Austin. During the fall 2011 semester she participated in the Communication, New Media and Journalism program at the CIEE Study Center in Seville.

Before I left the U.S. to study abroad for a semester in Spain, I thought to myself, “I’m going to live the life. I’m finally going to see the world, meet new friends, immerse myself in Spanish culture and travel.” I had seen all the study abroad brochures filled with photos of happy students in foreign countries, and I heard about the great experiences my peers had in these beautiful places. I was ready to have my own adventures in Europe.

Once I came to Seville, I realized there was a whole other side to studying abroad the brochures failed to mention and my peers didn’t comment on. It’s probably the most substantial part to the study abroad experience—the part where you spend loads of time by yourself.

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In Cádiz (Photo by Michelle Sanchez)

I came to Seville not knowing a soul in my program, in Spain or in Europe. The first couple weeks I felt lonely because I was still in the process of making new friends, becoming familiar with my host family and adjusting to a new country. It was very frustrating to be in a beautiful place and not have a companion to share it with. I wished my family and friends were by my side walking the streets of Seville.

During the first month, I realized if I wanted to see this city I would just have to go forth and do it. So I did.

At first I was hesitant to even grab a coffee at my neighborhood café. The society I grew up in says its bad to be alone; it means you have no one; you’re a loser. But it’s not true—everyone I loved was thousands of miles away. After my initial attempts at exploring the city, going to the market or the ice cream shop by myself, I got over it. I understood if I wanted to make the most out of my experience it was up to me to do so.

CIEE offers excursions and activities like hiking in a nearby town and visits to the Cathedral and Giralda. There are only six other people in the CNMJ program so I went to many of these opportunities by myself and met many Liberal Arts students. I thought, why not take advantage of what the program offers and get out of my comfort zone and meet other CIEE students?

After a while I made friends that I could hang out with in Seville and finally had people I could share the city with. However, when it came down to travelling there were some problems. I had never been abroad before this semester and most of my new friends had already been to Europe. We wanted to go to different places during our weekends. I didn’t want other people to hinder my opportunities to visit some of my dream places so I told myself I would go alone if I had to. I always wanted to go to Morocco but when I couldn’t find anyone I knew who wanted to go, I just decided to go with a student travel group instead. It turned out I knew a couple of kids on the tour and got to bond with them even more that weekend. Most importantly, I got to experience Morocco like I wanted to.

One of the things I’m going to miss the most is writing while I drink a café con leche or eat a tostada for breakfast by myself in my regular café in the Alameda. What I was once felt uncomfortable doing is now so familiar.

From all the time I spent alone, I learned that you have to be comfortable with yourself in order to spend time with yourself.  Being in a different country alone helped me grow as a person. I don’t need anyone to be by my side or rely on anyone else to be happy.

My study abroad experience has been amazing. I appreciate the friends I’ve made and how hospitable my host family has been. I have great photos from the different countries and cities I’ve visited. But I’m grateful for learning how to be even more independent. Being alone is having the freedom to make your own choices.