Not sure what program is right for you? Click Here

© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Study Abroad in

Back to Program Back to Blog Home

11 posts from October 2011


Walking home on Calle Feria

This post is by Hannah Boeck, an english and history major from Concordia University. During the fall 2011 semester she is participating in the Language and Society program at the CIEE Study Center in Seville.

On my way out the door this morning my host mom Lola reminded me, “Hannah, remember it’s Thursday!” I called back, “I know. I’ll turn my backpack around!” Let me explain…

Every Thursday there’s an outdoor fair called El Jueves—which means “Thursday”—on Calle Feria, the main road I take when I walk to class. Now, I’ve been to lots of outdoor markets, craft fairs and every “fest” you can think of (Cranfest is a real thing. So is Butter Fest). So when I call the spectacle on Feria a fair, it’s in a very loose sense of the word.

If you’re picturing rows of neatly organized and cheerily decorated booths, Feria may not be for you. If you’ve got the urge to browse piles of old records (yep, vinyl) laid out on blankets, or perhaps purchase the used toaster you never knew you needed, come on down!

Mercado El Jueves on Calle Feria
Mercado El Jueves on Calle Feria 

Continue reading "Walking home on Calle Feria" »


Fleas, bedbugs and new Spanish vocabulary

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

My señora has a dog named Lola who I quickly grew to love. The dog provided a good distraction at times when I had nothing else to say, and upon first meeting her, she gave me something to laugh at when she would scratch and shake in ways that I had never seen a dog move before. Maybe she had fleas, I wasn’t sure, but she was a sweet dog nonetheless.

My suspicion of Lola’s fleas grew after three days in my home stay. While doing homework in my room, a tiny brown bug came crawling up my wall. I smashed it with a piece of paper then realized that the bites on my legs could be multiplying due to this little monster.

Every morning I awoke to find more bites in more places. I began to research fleas and bed bugs. As I researched how people get fleas and how to get rid of them, one webpage read, “Nothing is more embarrassing than when you’re out with your friends and a flea crawls down your arm.” Awesome, I thought. It’s a good thing I’m not at an impressionable stage with my new family, friends and classmates. They’ll understand, I’m sure.

Lola, my señora's dog and the flea culprit

Continue reading "Fleas, bedbugs and new Spanish vocabulary" »


Setting the camera aside

This post is by by Meredith Comnes, a geography and Spanish major at the University of Orgeon. During the fall 2011 semester she is paticipating in the CIEE Liberal Arts program.

La Alhambra and Generalife, Granada, Spain—My first weekend destination with CIEE, only a three-hour bus ride from Sevilla. La Alhambra is where gardens wrap around the palaces of a once-great Moorish king, where the mountainous view provides a scented breeze that fills my lungs with spicy perfume. I close my eyes and hear the soft trickle of water on marble fountains, running my fingers along textured ceramic tiles. I feel like I have wandered into another century and some greater force has touched my spirituality.

Even in the peaceful gardens of La Alhambra, I feel anxious. At times while studying abroad, I battle with trying to live in the moment but also thinking, "How can I remember this in a year from now?" Sometimes it seems like the only way I can preserve the wonderful feeling I get from places like the Alhambra is by snapping a photo of my surroundings. Therefore, the natural hums of the Alhambra are accompanied by the obnoxious digital tweet of my camera. At times, I see Spain through the lens of the digital camera—my attempts to remember in the future what I am enjoying now.

Continue reading "Setting the camera aside" »


In with the new: The Alameda de Hércules, past and present

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

During my first couple of weeks in Seville, I didn’t know my way around the city very much. I learned the route from my home stay to CIEE headquarters and back, but one day I took a wrong turn. I wandered the streets and finally whipped out my map and found a route that led to my house. As I walked down a bigger road it led me to a huge plaza I had never seen before. The signs around the parameters read: Alameda de Hércules.

South end of the Alameda
The south end of the Alameda de Hércules

Continue reading "In with the new: The Alameda de Hércules, past and present" »


Lessons learned from a whirlwind trip through Spain

This post is by by Kyle Grandin, a finance and accounting major at the Villanova University. During the fall 2011 semester he is paticipating in the CIEE Business and Society program.

Last weekend I traveled with some friends to Barcelona, and thanks to a stolen passport, I was able to take a trip through Spain which took me to three of its largest cities (Barcelona, Madrid and Seville) in three days. While the bus rides were not much fun (I don’t really recommend 29 hours on a bus in three days), I was able to see a lot of Spain and reflect on what I saw. And I must say, after the trip, I’ve decided that I am very happy with my choice to study in Seville.

Taking the bus through Spain

My home for 16 hours on the trip from Barcelona to Seville, not the way I would recommend to make the trip.

Continue reading "Lessons learned from a whirlwind trip through Spain" »


My pro and con list… revised

This post is by by Erica Embury, a communications, journalism and Spanish major at the University of St. Thomas. During the fall 2011 semester she is paticipating in the CIEE Liberal Arts program.

I’d like to dedicate this blog post to all of the people who are wondering, “Should I study abroad?” If you’ve found yourself making endless lists of pros and cons, if you’ve talked to family, friends and university advisors about whether studying abroad is the right decision for you, and if you’ve considered taking the leap of faith that studying in a foreign country requires, this post is for you. Six months ago, I was that person. For me, living and studying abroad in Spain wasn’t something I always knew that I wanted to do. I’m more or less a homebody, so deciding to move a few thousand miles away was anything but an automatic decision.

One of my specialties happens to be pro and con lists, and let me tell you, I became an expert at these before I decided to study abroad. If I knew then what I know now, the choice to study abroad would have been so much easier. I hope that by showing you some of my apprehensions that maybe, just maybe, this can help you make your decision, too.

“Cons” to Studying Abroad:

1.) Being away from family for four months

I look at this part of my list and laugh a little to myself—I talk to my family more now that I am across the world than I did when I was at school in the States. My parents think they’re really tech savvy because they finally know how to work Skype without my 17-year-old sister holding their hands the entire time. If they aren’t calling me on Skype, they are sending me emails asking how everything is going. Luckily, neither of my parents is on Facebook yet… please, no one tell them. In addition to how often we talk, my dad and sister are coming to visit in a few weeks! It will be their first time in Europe and I can’t wait to play tour guide and show them around Seville.

2.) Being away from friends for four months

This one is tricky. I’m not about to say that being apart from my friends for so long has been easy, but we keep in touch almost every day through Facebook and Skype. I’ve also met so many new people here that I never feel like I’m lacking in friendship. For example, some of my best friends here are from South Dakota, Virginia, Colombia, Seville, Georgia and Massachusetts. I’m from Minnesota and I go to school there too, so back home, it was exciting for me to meet someone from Wisconsin. Talk about a change for the better.

Friends in Seville

Some of the wonderful people that I've met in Seville

3.) Speaking Spanish, all of the time

I’m majoring in communications and Spanish back home but the idea of having to speak and listen to Spanish every minute of every day was still daunting, especially considering the added difficulty of the accent in Andalucía. However, my host family has been incredibly helpful and being surrounded by Spanish has done wonders for my speaking, listening and writing abilities. I won’t say that I’m fluent, but that is definitely a reachable goal by the time I leave in December.

Spanish host family

Me with my host dad (Alejandro), host sister (Julia), and roommate (Grace)

4.) Is it really worth it?

It seems like people who study abroad always come back raving about their time overseas. But I always secretly wondered, “Is it worth it?” To sum it up in one word: Yes. Living in a foreign country is like anything else, you’ll have your good and bad days, but I can say for a fact that my good days have far outweighed the less-favorable ones. When I step out my front door in the morning and start my walk to school on the cobblestone streets, I know that I made the right decision.

Sunset in Seville

No Photoshop. No edits. Just a perfect sunset in Seville.

Photos by Erica Embury


Las Setas: Mezclando lo contemporáneo con lo antiguo

This post is by Mary Stephens, a telecommunications major at Indiana University. During the fall 2011 semester she is participating in the Language and Society program at the CIEE Study Center in Seville.


Circle1En el barrio centro de Sevilla, hay un sitio muy grande y muy extraño a la vez. En la Plaza de Encarnación, entre edificios clásicos y antiguos se puede apreciar un monumento arquitectónico que capta la atención tanto de los sevillanos como de los turistas. Esta estructura llamada, El Metropol Parasol, se terminó en abril de este año. Cabe decir que el arquitecto de la estructura es Jürgen Mayer. “Las Setas” como los sevillanos lo llaman, no es solamente una estructura. Está dividida en cuatro niveles en las que se pueden observar y hacer cosas distintas.

En lo alto de la estructura, en el Mirador, está el camino y el bar. Se puede caminar por encima de Las Setas y apreciar una vista maravillosa de la ciudad hispalense, teniendo de fondo La Giralda.

Circle2La primera vez que visité el mirador, contemplé la puesta del sol por encima de los edificios y el rio de Guadalquivir. Siempre voy a recordar esta vista de Sevilla. Fue una de las cosas más maravillosas y bonitas. El precio del viaje en el ascensor para visitar El Mirador y El Bar del Mirador es de 1,20€ y es algo que merece mucho la pena.

En la planta que da a la calle, se ha construido un mercado de abastos. Con la obra de Las Setas, el diseñador decidió conservar el antiguo mercado que llevaba tantos años en esta plaza, porque es muy importante para los habitantes de esta ciudad. Este mercado es muy diferente a los mercados que tenemos en los Estados Unidos. Sí has visto Farmer’s Markets, el mercado es como uno de esos mercados estadounidenses. Sin embargo, lo único que nunca había visto era una mesa llena de pescado con la cabeza y todo.

Caracoles La comida es muy fresca: puedes ver los caracoles moviéndose y saliéndose de la caja donde están almacenados—¡ hasta los caracoles estaban vivos! Me gustaba como ponían la fruta y las verduras en las fruterías. Creo que lo hacían así, de forma atractiva, para captar la atención de la gente al pasar. Del mismo modo, me parece que estas pequeñas tiendas no emplean ningún tipo de anuncio, porque la vista de la comida habla por sí misma. Asimismo hay zapaterías, tiendas de ropa y tiendas de yogur cerca en la misma planta a nivel de calle.

En el nivel que hay por debajo del mirador y que está por encima del mercado, se encuentra un lugar singular para espectáculos como conciertos, danza y teatro. Cada día, puedes ver grupos de los estudiantes después de las clases en la plaza. Durante los días, se puede usar la plaza para quedar con amigos, patinar, montar en bicicleta, o jugar en el patio de recreo que hay para niños pequeños.

Circle4Por último, en el nivel que está por debajo de la calle, se ha instalado un museo. Este museo protege restos arqueológicos que se encontraron durante la edificación de este monumento. Se trata de unas ruinas romanas. En definitiva, El Metrosol Parasol es una mezcla de lo más contemporáneo (el diseño del mirador) y de lo más antigua (las ruinas) de la ciudad de Sevilla. Pienso que es una buena idea que se visites este espacio, porque te puedes disfrutar de la variedad de las cosas que ofrece y da una visión de lo ecléctica que puede llegar a ser esta ciudad española.

Haz click aquí para mirar una vista aérea de la obra.

Fotos de la puesta del sol, los caracoles y la Plaza de Encarnacion sacadas por Mary Stephens. Fotos del mercado y las ruinas sacadas por Ayesha Shah.


VIDEO: Traveling in Spain with CIEE

This video blog is by Nadia Honary, an art and cinema major at the University of Iowa. During the 2011-2012 academic year she is participating in the Liberal Arts program at the CIEE Study Center in Seville.

Nadia documented her interest group excursion to a sherry bodega in Jerez de la Frontera and a weekend trip to the city of Granada.



Cambiando de papeles: ser estudiante extranjero en España

This post is by Sheila Bushman, an economics major at the University of Virginia. During the fall 2011 semester she is participating in the Advanced Liberal Arts program through the CIEE Study Center in Seville. She is directly enrolled in classes with Spanish students at the Universidad de Sevilla.

¡Imagínalo! Estás en un aula, rodeada de estudiantes españoles que hablan muy rápidamente en un idioma que pensabas que sabías, pero que ahora no puedes entender por al acento andaluz y  por la velocidad a la que van hablando. Entra el profesor, quince minutos tarde, lo cual parece normal, pero al estar con amigos ninguno te parece como media hora. No te parece elegantemente tarde, sino más bien frustrantemente tarde. Así es el primer día de clase, o mejor dicho, la primera semana de clase que acabo de terminar como estudiante de matrícula directa en la Universidad de Sevilla.

Rectorado1 La antigua Fábrica de Tabacos, el edificio dónde se encuentran las facultades de filología, geografía e historía en la Universidad de Sevilla

Sin introducción alguna, el profesor empieza a repasar el programa o a lo mejor, la lectura, y es justo en este momento cuando empieza la primera prueba. La primera prueba es la capacidad a la hora de entender al profesor. Claramente, te va a costar mucho entender al profesor, pero tienes que averiguar como se puede hacer. Aunque estás acostumbrado a comprender cada una de las palabras que dicen tus profesores, tienes que aceptar, más bien, una comprensión de la idea general, y todas y cada una de las palabras que se dice en la clase. Espero que la comprensión completa venga con el tiempo.

La segunda prueba es la confirmación de que puedes adelantar el examen. Normalmente, los estudiantes españoles se van de vacaciones durante Navidad y vuelven para dos semanas más de clases seguidas para hacer los exámenes finales de enero y febrero. Sin embargo, en nuestras universidades norteamericanas se empiezan a mediados de enero, por lo que no podemos quedarnos. Además, deseamos regresar a los EE.UU durante las vacaciones de Navidad para estar en familia durante esas fechas tan especiales.

Después de resolver estas dificultades, aparecen otras. En tu tercer año, estás acostumbrado a entrar en un aula y conocer a la gente, el tamaño de la universidad, etc. Sin embargo, en España, claramente, no conoces a ningún estudiante español. Tienes que hacer el esfuerzo para hacerte amigo de estudiantes españoles, lo cual es un tanto difícil cuando no hablas español perfectamente,  y cuando ellos tienen ya sus propios amigos después de llevar dos años en la facultad. Es lo que me impulsa a correr el riesgo de decirle a la persona de al lado, “Hola, ¿Cómo te llamas?” y hacerme amigo de algún estudiante español para sumergirme un poco más en esta cultura y mejorar mi nivel. Y cada vez que lo hago, resulta que me hago un nuevo amigo español que suele ser muy amable y simpático.

Rectorado3 La otra dificultad se tiene que preparar una clase. En los EEUU, se hacen evaluaciones continuas, basadas en la asistencia y en la participación, los trabajos que hacemos todos los días, en dos o tres exámenes que hacemos y en algunos ensayos o trabajos escritos que le entregamos al profesor. En España, muchas veces la nota final está compuesta de un solo examen—el temido examen final.  ¿La nota del cuatrimestre entero depende de una hora y media?  Tú eres el que tiene la responsabilidad de estructurar tus estudios, para irte preparando gradualmente para la evaluación final. Muchas veces, la asistencia y la participación no cuentan para nada, esto es, solo tienes la ventaja de entender mejor el tema de la clase a la que fuiste.

A pesar de estas dificultades, sé que este nivel de inmersión mejorará mi español. Hay que trabajar para mejorar. Además, todo el mundo habla de experimentar el mundo desde una nueva perspectiva después de estudiar en el extranjero. No sé si de la que voy a hablar es la perspectiva a la que se refieren, pero comparto mi nuevo punto de vista  hasta cierto punto—la perspectiva del estudiante internacional. Ellos se salen de casa, entran en una cultura nueva, y tienen que realizar un trabajo de la misma calidad que un estudiante español, lleva hablando el idioma, que tú sólo has hablado un mes, toda su vida. Cuando vuelva a mi universidad, trataré de hablar más con estudiantes de fuera en vez de  tener siempre amigos de mi misma cultura. Tengo que decir que los estudiantes españoles han hecho esto por mí, y me toca devolverles el favor.

Fotos sacadas por Lauren Sieben


Translation: Córdoba

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.

La mezquita de Córdoba

My mother spends a lot of time deriding my listening skills (sorry Mom, but you know it’s true). “In one ear, out the other,” she likes to sigh, blue eyes rolling—usually right after I try to convince her she never told me to pick her up at the airport at 5, or to mail that really important check before the post office closes. I tend to disagree with this description; I like to think of myself as a creative listener instead of a bad one. The literal words coming out of her mouth just get translated into Katy-speak. She might think she’s saying, “Don’t forget your sister’s vitamins while you’re at the store,” but I tend to zone out somewhere in the middle so I end up with, “Don’t forget your sister’s vasdfjh while you’re at the store.” And let’s face it, “vasdfjh” could be any number of things, and one of those things might be vegetables, which at the end of the day have vitamins too, so is it really so awful that I bought her some leafy greens instead of VitaGummies?

So you see, interpretive listening.

A window in the mezquita

All right, so “in one ear and out the other” is probably a little more accurate. But this last weekend, that wasn’t quite the case for me. On Saturday, I went to Córdoba with students from CIEE’s Architecture and Design program in Barcelona, as well as my ladies from CNMJ and my very good friend Jessica, who was visiting me from Greece. We took a lovely little tour of the mosque, synagogue, and Alcázar, all narrated in Spanish. Now, for me, this sort of a jaunt isn’t so difficult. I learned the language by listening to and speaking with natives as opposed to in a classroom, so things like tours don’t give me much trouble. Jessica, on the other hand, has absolutely no knowledge of Spanish. I wasn’t about to abandon her for the whole day, nor was I interested in skipping out on the excursion. So obviously that left real-time translation as the only available option.

Not exactly the ideal job for someone who hears “Can you turn up the volume?” instead of “Can you clean up the bathroom?”

The patio outside the mezquita

But here’s the crazy thing: Instead of a case of in one ear, out the other, it was like the Spanish words were falling down between the left and the right ear and bounced right off my tongue as English. How’s that for an image?

Seriously, though, I barely had to think. The process was automatic. “Los musulmanes y los cristianos compartían una iglesia por sus servicios religiosos por cincuenta anos después de la llegada de los árabes a Córdoba” bounced into my head and left my mouth as, “The Muslims and Christians shared a church for their religious services for fifty years after the arrival of the Arabs to Córdoba.” (Which, for you non-Spanish speakers, is a direct translation. Really.)

A pretty window in the Alcázar

I’m taking this as absolute proof of my progress with the language. I won’t say I’m fluent yet—I’m convinced that’ll take the whole year—but I definitely don’t have to think in order to understand anymore. Translating in real time is difficult when you have to consciously switch each Spanish word to English before you say it aloud. I’ve progressed to the point that I automatically know what a word means when I hear it, no mental processing required. So thanks, Córdoba, for showing me that. I appreciate it.

And Mom, sorry I played my music really loud instead of picking up the makeup bottles all over the bathroom counter before I left town. I honestly thought you were just feeling my jams.

Photos by Katy George