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11 posts from February 2012


From Ecuador to Andalusia: Relearning Spanish and Spanglish

This post is by David Friedlander, a marine biology and Spanish major at the University of Oregon. During the spring 2012 semester he is participating in the Language and Society program at the CIEE Study Center in Seville.

I have been in Sevilla for nearly a month now and the linguistic differences between this semester in Spain and the last semester I spent abroad continue to pile up.

I spent this most recent fall semester studying in Quito, Ecuador, and also in a town on the Galápagos Islands—yes people live there. Getting off the plane in Sevilla, I expected to have zero difficulty transitioning from the idiosyncrasies of one country’s Spanish to the other. That honeymoon ended when, as I was waltzing through customs, I had the misfortune of dropping my passport. Like any good Ecuadorian I let out a solid ¡Chuuuuta madre! (the equivalent of darn it), expecting to at least receive some acknowledgement from the surrounding Spaniards.

Quite the opposite; I was met with a look that implied I might as well be speaking the language of the hill people from Borneo. I have since learned that the common Spanish response would be resounding ¡Ayy!

The next day, as our newly assembled gaggle of study abroad students was ushered across a street in Sevilla, I casually mentioned to our guide that I felt like a complete gringo (the catch-all term used for anyone who is quite obviously not a native in Latin America). A condescending smile and shake of the head later, I learned that guiri is the correct Sevillano term for our sangria-obsessed, map-waving ilk.

The last shred of my slang-based confidence was stripped away when, faced with La Giralda, the Sevilla Cathedral’s magnificent bell tower, I uttered an awestruck “Que chévere” (how cool). Since that rueful day, it has become clear that anything cool here is either guay, chulo, or flama, and that a mention of something “tan Sudamericano” like chévere or bacan, will strip one of any Sevillano points that he or she has accrued.

Seville's Giralda, which is "guay," not "chévere," in Spain. (Photo credit)

Continue reading "From Ecuador to Andalusia: Relearning Spanish and Spanglish" »


Baeza and Úbeda: An excursion with CIEE yearlong students

This photo story is by Katy George, a journalism and Spanish major at the University of Oregon. During the 2011-2012 academic year she is participating in the Communication, New Media and Journalism program at the CIEE Study Center in Seville.

Naomi Moser (Communication, New Media and Journalism) watches the Andalusian countryside fly by. More than 20 yearlong students from every CIEE program travelled with CIEE staff in early February to see the UNESCO world heritage sites of Baeza and Úbeda.


The classic Renaissance architecture of the Antigua Universidad de Baeza made it a must-see. The building no longer serves as a school, but many of the old classrooms are set up as they would have been in the 18th century.

Continue reading "Baeza and Úbeda: An excursion with CIEE yearlong students" »


Weekend adventures in Alicante

This post is by Samantha Argos, a marketing major at the University of Colorado at Boulder. During the spring 2012 semester she is participating in the CIEE International Business and Culture program.

One of my first weekends in Spain brought an excursion to the beach, new sights in Spain, new friends and the most delicious gelato I’ve ever tasted—none of which I anticipated, but all of which ended up teaching me a valuable lesson…

This was my first chance to travel outside of Sevilla since arriving to study abroad, and recently I’ve definitely caught the travel bug. After all, I’ve never been to Europe before this trip, so I came determined to make the most of my time here and to see all that I can see. As more and more students from my program started booking flights to Paris, Rome, London and other typical European destinations for the weekend, I was a little surprised when my closest group of friends here booked a cheap flight to Alicante and asked me to come with them. Wasn’t Alicante a beach town that would be better to visit in the warmer months? Was there anything else to do there? And was it really that different from Sevilla? I couldn’t help but wonder, but not wanting to be left behind, I agreed and bought my ticket.


La Explanada in Alicante

Continue reading "Weekend adventures in Alicante" »


Spanish meals—more than just food

This post is by Philip Wisner, a marketing and Spanish major at the Pennsylvania State University. During the spring 2012 semester he is participating in the CIEE Liberal Arts program.

I have been with my host family now for over three weeks and they have managed to cook a new dish for every meal (except for breakfast). I was shocked because I thought only America had this many options. That being said, all the food does have similar ingredients and flavor but still you have to admire the versatility and variety that is Spanish cuisine. I have had things here that are just like home and things that I had never even heard of; for example, pig's face and pig's blood. Never would I have imagined I would be eating that... and then say I liked it. In Spain, meals are more than just eating; it is part of the culture. 

Most people know that the Spaniards eat at different times than us, but most people do not realize the importance of these meals. 

First, let's start with breakfast. It's very simple and quick here, similar to some college students’ diets in the U.S—eat whatever you have in abundance until you feel satisfied. My typical breakfast is cereal with fruit and coffee, but I have toast with jelly or butter just as often. I normally grab what I want when I wake up because it is usually at a different time than my family.

Here is what my breakfast looked like today:


Desayuno completo—a complete Spanish breakfast

Continue reading "Spanish meals—more than just food" »


Un viaje a Cádiz, con playa y música del Carnaval

This post is by Tommaso Sneider, an economic consulting, public policy analysis and finance major at Indiana University. During the spring 2012 semester he is participating in the Business and Society program at the CIEE Study Center in Seville.

Cuando piensas en una ciudad con playa, Cádiz no es el primer lugar en el que piensas. Yo me quedé muy sorprendido con mi visita a Cádiz y estoy encantado de poder tener esta oportunidad.

Los barcos con la marea baja y alta.

Hace unas semanas, fui con otros estudiantes del grupo Business and Society para visitar Cádiz. Era el fin de semana antes de Carnaval, que es una gran fiesta gaditana con mucha historia. Cádiz es la ciudad más vieja donde viven personas, y algunas personas creen que es la ciudad más vieja de toda la parte del suroeste de Europa. Lo que continúo con mi experiencia en este viaje.

Continue reading "Un viaje a Cádiz, con playa y música del Carnaval" »


It's fun—it's educational—it's Spanish film!

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

Brilliant reds. Cannons sizzling with fire during wartime. Mazes haunted with mystic creatures. Laughter and lots of tears. While these all might seem like elements to an unusual vaudeville show, they each piece together a mosaic of contemporary Spanish film. Since the Spanish transition to democracy and liberation of artistic expression in the latter half of the 20th century, the Spanish film industry has become an explosion of provocative characters and edgy themes, creating a delicious selection of movies for us, as viewers, to enjoy!

To me, foreign films are cheap travel. And as a student of the Spanish language, why not use film as immersion in Spain’s linguistic and cultural landscape?

Here are three of my favorites:

"La niña de tus ojos": (1998). A “movie within a movie,” this is a historical comedy takes place during post-Civil-War Spain. At this time of rigid censorship, it was nearly impossible for artists of any kind to pursue their craft if it did not portray nationalist themes. This movie follows a group of Spanish actors and filmmakers as they journey to Germany at the height of Nazism in order to make their movie. During the production in Germany they encounter extreme cultural difference, issues with language, but also humor and romance. "La niña de tus ojos" also captures an image of German and Spanish relations right before the outbreak of World War 2. Penelope Cruz stars at the youthful actress Macarena Granada, and in this clip we see her “acting” as a traditional flamenco dancer:

"Todo sobre mi madre" (1999): A survey of Spanish cinema wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Pedro Almodóvar. Almodóvar is perhaps the most well know and beloved Spanish filmmaker internationally, remembered for his use of vibrant colors, surprising twists and characters whose sexualities are as fluid as cerveza. As the title suggests, "Todo sobre mi madre" is a film about motherhood and parentage. The single Manuela is left devastated when her only son Esteban dies prematurely. She moves to Barcelona to find Esteban’s father, whose true identity she has kept secret from Esteban throughout his whole life. Touching on themes such as AIDS and existentialism, this film has lots to absorb.

"Biutiful": (2010). Filmed by the Mexican director Alejandro Garcia Iñárritu, this film is actually a co-production between Mexico and Spain. “Biutiful” takes place in the criminal underbelly of contemporary Barcelona, and stars Javier Bardem as Uxbal, a father, black-market envoy and spiritual healer. Uxbal’s professional relationships lead him from grimy Chinese sweatshops to the tattered Senegalese immigrant dwellings of Barcelona. As Uxbal’s health slowly deteriorates, he must come to terms with his own father, who died years ago.


En resumen: Mi semestre con el programa de Business and Society

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

Después de un semestre en el programa de negocios y sociedad de CIEE, puedo decir que ha sido una experiencia muy excelente. Durante mi estancia en Sevilla, he aprendido mucho, he conocido gente muy buena y he pasado tres meses inolvidables.

El primer día, llegué al hotel de orientación y tuve mucho miedo. Pensé, “No sé bastante español para esto, como sobreviviré en este país, como aprobaré mis clases de negocios en otro idioma. Es imposible.” Sin embargo, el personal de orientación fue magnífico. Mi guía y los directores fueron muy simpáticos y pudieron enseñarme la ciudad y darme confianza para el semestre.

También, las clases del programa son muy interesantes. Podemos aprender cosas sobre negocios que no vemos en los Estados Unidos. Tenía una clase llamada economía europea, en la que aprendimos sobre la historia de la unión europea y el euro. Es un tema que me gusta mucho y que no estudiamos en mi universidad. En mi otra clase de negocios, European Corporate Organization, aprendimos sobre los estilos de gestión excelentes en Europa. Igualmente es un tema bueno porque mi universidad solo enseña las teorías de los Estados Unidos y no las de aquí.

Continue reading "En resumen: Mi semestre con el programa de Business and Society" »


Love is in the spring semester air

This post is by Allison Muotka, a communications, journalism and Spanish major at the University of St. Thomas. During the spring 2012 semester she is participating in the CIEE Liberal Arts program.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, the loved ones we’re spending the holiday away from and the start of our relationship with Sevilla, I decided to dedicate my first blog to love: “El amor que pasa,” the love that passes, moves, happens, goes on. The romantic poet Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer was born in Sevilla in 1836 and immortalized here, along with his rhyme of the aforementioned title, with his own glorieta (gazebo) in the Parque de María Luisa.

Bécquer's Glorieta

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Not just a walk in the park: Dando un paseo en el Parque María Luisa y El Retiro

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.

Antes de llegar a España, pensaba que tenía una buena idea de lo que era un parque—una área de césped, donde la gente puede hacer un picnic, juagar al frisbee o pasear con un perro. Lo que no sabía es que ésta es la definición básica de un parque, y que los parques pueden ser mucho más bonitos e interesantes. El Parque de María Luisa es un parque en Sevilla, y El Retiro es otro parque en Madrid, que superaron mis expectativas de lo que era un parque.


Parque de María Luisa

Continue reading "Not just a walk in the park: Dando un paseo en el Parque María Luisa y El Retiro" »


La gastronomía sevillana: Nunca es lo que esperabas…

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 participated in the CIEE Liberal Arts program.

Existen muchísimos estereotipos sobre España; algunos tienen su parte de verdad, pero en su mayoría, son falsos, y en mi opinión son muy interesantes. Cabe decir que la gastronomía de una región nos dice mucho sobre la gente, las costumbres y la manera de vida de un país. Por ejemplo, todo el mundo conoce la paella como un plato típico español. Al haber tantos platos típicos todos requieren un tiempo para su elaboración.

Creo que esto significa que los españoles ponen muchísimo empeño y esmero en sus guisos y no les importa si tienen que pasar todo el día para entre fogones.

 El aceite de oliva es un símbolo de la simplicidad de la comida autóctona: Sólo tienes que echarle un poco aceite al pan, la ensalada o a la carne, y todo cambia. Como la calidad del aceite es tan alta, al añadírselo a cualquier cosa, el sabor mejora sustancialmente. Asimismo, el estilo de la comida refleja el sentimiento de unidad familiar que se tiene aquí en España, porque casi siempre las familias aquí suelen comer juntas. Creo que lo que más me gusta sobre la comida en Sevilla es que cuando estoy en un restaurante y pido algo del menú, la comida no es lo que anticipaba, sino es mucho mejor.

Esta última idea es la base de este blog. Fui a algunos restaurantes y la primera se llama Antonio Romero II. Allí pedí algo típico de España: el jamón. Si estuviera en los Estados Unidos y pidiera jamón, sería normal recibir un jamón parecido al que puedes comprar en el “deli” del supermercado. Pero aquí en Sevilla veras el jamón en la pata (normalmente más de uno) y cuando alguien quiere jamón, ya está cortado.


Tapa de lomo


Patas de jamón

El segundo aspecto que también es bastante distinto con respecto a la gastronomía comida española en contraste con la de los Estados Unidos es el concepto de “tortilla.” En EE.UU. trabajo en un restaurante mexicano y, por eso, una tortilla es algo plano que está hecho de maíz o harina, y normalmente, se utiliza para elaborar un taco. En Sevilla (y en toda España) una tortilla es algo muy típico y se hace con patatas, huevos y cebolla. Puedes comerla sola o con pan. Éste es otro ejemplo de las diferencias entre las percepciones de las expectativas que los estudiantes traemos al venir a España.

Tortilla picture
La versión española de la tortilla (Photo courtesy of “Purple Rock Scissors”)

Por último, un sitio que visité que se llama el Dos de Mayo y que se ha convertido en uno de mis lugares favoritos de tapeo, cuando me topé con tapa llamada “quesadilla” en la carta. No obstante, yo debería haber sabido lo que era una quesadilla, porque la tenemos en los EE.UU… pero ésta era muchísimo mejor. Como se puede apreciar en la foto, es una pequeña ronda de queso de cabra que se calienta y se le echa por encima un poco de mermelada de fresa o de frutos rojos del bosque, y se acompaña con pan tostado. No cabe la menor duda de que se haya convertido en mi tapa favorita. ¡Está deliciosa!


Quesadilla con queso de cabra

En conclusión, si va a viajar a España, puede que la comida tarde un poquito de tiempo a la hora de prepararla, aunque tenga ingredientes muy simples y que siempre va a sorprenderle.

Fotos sacadas por Erica Embury