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12 posts from October 2013


Halloween en Sevilla, pánico en la heladería Rayas

This post is by Abby Hartmann, a Public Health first major and Spanish second major at Johns Hopkins University. During the Fall 2013 semester she is participating in the CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts Program.

This is Abby's paper about Halloween for the class SPAN 4101 CSCS Advanced Spanish Grammar and Writing.  Calabaza

29 de octubre, un martes normal en Sevilla, María estaba esperando su turno en la heladería Rayas para pedir el helado de todos los días: un cucurucho pequeño de menta, el premio perfecto después de un largo día de clases en la universidad. Ocupada con su móvil,  las uñas pintadas pinchando la pantalla, María no notó el comportamiento raro de todos en la heladería, hasta la trabajadora la miró con ojos penetrantes: “¡Dime!”.

Distraída por los ojos de la mujer, unas pupilas rojas en vez de negras, María tartamudeó: “m-m-m-enta, cu-cucurucho, pequeño”. Al sonido de su voz, todas las cabezas de la heladería se giraron hacia ella. María parpadeó con miedo, insegura de qué debía hacer ante todas las pupilas rojas mirándola fijamente. Nadie se estaba comiendo el helado, todos goteaban repetitivamente, los sabores se mezclaban en el suelo formando un charco pegajoso.

Con un movimiento brusco la mujer le ofreció el helado a María aunque aferrando la mano fuertemente al cucurucho. De repente todos en Rayas se giraron hacia María y todos a la vez dieron un paso adelante. El corazón de María saltó a la garganta, no podía producir una palabra ni un grito, rodeada de ojos y el goteo insistente como único sonido.

En un instante surgió un sonido estridente seguido del silencio y la oscuridad completa. Luego un destello de luz, y por fin María gritó. Cada persona, monstruo, zombi o lo que fuera, estaban tumbados en el suelo, en el charco pegajoso, con un cuchillo en el pecho y la sangre matizando el charco a rojo.

Después de otra pausa en la oscuridad, las luces parpadearon de nuevo. María se giró con los ojos completamente abiertos para ver la escena. Con un golpe de terror ella notó el movimiento, y lentamente, como si fueran tirados por cuerdas invisibles, los cuerpos comenzaron a tener movimiento, parecían cuerpos rotos, con los brazos y piernas en ángulos imposibles, las cabezas levantadas y los pies flotando unos centímetros sobre el suelo. Con las manos extendidas lo cuerpos se acercaron a María, ella cerró los ojos, cuando los abrió todo fue oscuridad.


Córdoba: A clash of cultures

This post is by Kathryn Lillie, an Adverstising and Spanish Major at University of Oregon. During the Fall 2013 semester she is participating in the Liberal Arts program


After a full month of weekend travel, I spent two weekends in Sevilla!  The last four weekends of travel included Portugal, Granada, Munich, and Granada again to hike the Sierra Nevada. For someone who is supposedly a homebody, I seem to be burning through my weekends like crazy. My goal this term has been to say "yes" a lot more than I normally do, try new things and see as much as possible. Even when I'm tired or just not feeling up to doing things, I'm forcing myself to go for it. It's been great, but it was  also nice to spend two weekends in Sevilla after all that travel.


The only trip I did was a day trip to Córdoba with CIEE, a city known for being the former capital of Andalucía back when it was ruled by the Arabs. It's an interesting city to visit because it is one of the few that still has a place of worship from each of the three big religions of the Iberian Peninsula: a synagogue, a mosque, and a cathedral. We visited the synagogue first. It was extremely small, and the most that could be said of it was that it survived the Catholic dominion of the region.


Next, we went to the Mezquita. The Mezquita of Cordóba is one of the few religious structures in Spain I've truly enjoyed visiting. The Mezquita changed hands many times throughout its history. It was built in the 600s by the Visigoths as a church. When Córdoba was conquered by the Arabs, it became a mosque. For the next 400 years, various caliphs continued building it, until it became known as the "great mosque of Córdoba". When Córdoba was conquered by the Christians in 1236, King Ferdinand was so impressed with it that he actually allowed it to remain standing and converted it into a cathedral. The end result is an incredible mixture of architecture styles. Personally, I preferred the simple elegance of the Islamic architecture: the pillars and arches are meant to make the worshiper feel as though they are in a grove of palm trees. Maybe it's just me, but I maybe also thought of that part in Lord of the Rings where the Fellowship goes to Moria. . .


After our tour of the Mezquita had finished, a few friends and I went to check out the gallery of the Inquisition. After seeing the extremely boring and empty ruins that Sevilla calls their Inquisition museum, this was more what we'd been looking for. We walked through a series of rooms filled with gruesome torture devices and information on the Inquisition. The dim lighting and the religious chanting playing in the background made the whole experience super creepy.

I had actually been to this museum before five years ago, when I came to Spain with my high school Spanish class. I have fond memories of squealing in horror over those same torture devices with Lisette and Elaine, two of my best friends from home. All I had to do when I got home was sent them a message saying "do the words 'pear of agony' ring any bells?" and they knew exactly what I was talking about.

Back to the museum. It's hard to believe that people were capable of the cruelty displayed in there. Those devices represent a very dark part of human history, one that didn't just exist in Spain. The Spanish Inquisition is infamous, but it was hardly the only country of the time to employ torture. During the middle ages, torture was a normal part of investigations.

Reading the descriptions of some of the tortures made me cringe. For example, here is the head crusher. The plaque next to it read, "The victim's chin was placed on the lower bar and the cap forced down by the screw. First the teeth are crushed into their sockets and smash the surrounding bone, then the eyes are forced out of their sockets, and finally the brain squirts through the fragmented skull. " That was just the beginning. We also saw the rack, flogs, the heretic's fork, and all kinds of things with evocative names accompanied by ghastly illustrations to show how they were used.

Was I glad we went? Yes. I fully admit to being both fascinated and horrified by the museum. There's something of a disconnect when you see the torture devices: as much as I read the descriptions, I can't wrap my mind around the fact that there were people who carried out those actions, no matter the reason.

After that museum, we were in need of sunshine and happiness, so we strolled around the Jewish quarter, shopped, and had ice cream. We got to see two faces of religion in Spain on our trip: the exquisite Mezquita and the Gallery of the Inquisition. The clashes between Judaism, Islam, and Christianity shaped Spain's history, and nowhere is this more apparent than the city of Córdoba.


La Clase de Periodismo

This post is by Tyler Wiley, a Communication Arts Major at Santa Clara University. During the Fall 2013 semester she is participating in the CIEE Communication, New Media and Journalism program.


The one day I didn’t check the weather before heading out to my 9 AM class, and of course I decided that the ominous gray clouds hanging over the city were harmless since I hadn’t seen rain in months… False. In my shorts and sandals I made my way to the CIEE building for my "clase de periodismo". It was pouring, the rain accompanied by thunder and lightning, and lake- size puddles were forming in the streets by the time I made it to refuge.

Of course this was the day scheduled for our first excursion. A trip to experience and record a taste of authentic Sevillan life. Our passionate professor (Eduardo del Campo, a reporter at the newspaper El Mundo), explained that if by 15 minutes past 9 the rain hadn’t let up, we would surrender to the weather and reschedule… but a true journalist doesn’t give in to unfavorable conditions, or there would never be an article worth reading.

Like clock-work, the heavy rain gave way to a light drizzle just in time for s to start our trip to la Calle Feria, just around the corner from Las Setas. We slowly proceeded in that direction, with Eduardo stopping us at every interesting intersection or shop, explaining that he was training our eyes and our minds to seek a story in everything we saw. A journalist gives value and importance to every detail. In English, it’s a bit easier, but I love writing for exactly this reason. The freedom you have to create whatever image and emotion through words is always amazing to me. Languages are alive, always changing…

Anyhow, we stopped outside of a fast-food station. A room filled with windowed machines that pop out whatever numbered meal you punch into the side buttons. Nothing looked appetizing, and we were told it was a great late-night stop for intoxicated teens and often a bedroom for the homeless. On a more attractive note, the little shop that was a tailoring-carpentry combo around the corner seemed so poetic and had the most interesting contents. You could tell it was filled with hidden treasures, and that every object had its own unique history. The more I open my eyes to the city, the more I see, the more I love. I spotted so many stands, shops and cafés I cannot wait to go back and visit.

Our destination was the Mercado del Jueves on Calle Feria (named fittingly because it is an outdoor flea market open only on Thursdays). My senses were overwhelmed trying to take everything in. It was like nothing I had experienced before…

The first shops we passed were a bit pitiful. Merely a couple soggy blankets laid out with miss-matched nick-nacks that looked like they belonged on The Island of Misfit Toys; a broken radio, a dirty rubber minion that probably used to be a great bathtub toy, some scarfs and knitted beanies, and a couple damp fans. The “venders” sat at a distance. They looked tired and discouraged even though it was just past 9:30 in the morning. I felt a small pang of sadness mixed with guilt, but was quickly distracted by a beautifully displayed collection of semi-precious stones and charms.

When I finally pulled myself away and turned to the station set up kitty-corner to me, I spotted some cool vintage pants and button-ups hanging from a small clothes line. A mother knelt bellow holding her daughter at her hip, captivated by a miniature pair of white frilly shoes. They were perfect, preserved from the rain by a thin, air-tight plastic casing. I watched intently as an older man slowly mozied over and thoughtfully evaluated the clothes on the line.

One family was selling old CDs, VCRs, DVDs, and even a few books. Next to them a man with an endearing salt-and-pepper beard was gingerly laying out detailed wood carvings. I wanted to buy a piece just for the beauty of what care and pride had been put into making it. I felt like I was developing ADHD. I was so excited and there was so much to see, and it was raining!!

I turned to my immediate left and saw a collection of antique film cameras, each with its own custom leather case. I hovered around the table for a while, until the lingering drops of water from the branches above us got annoying… I walked with Savannah to the end of the street market, just half a block further, and we headed back to catch everything we’d missed.

Of course, I found the only thrift shop on the street and had to go in. A beautiful eclectic Spanish girl greeted us with a big smile and a “buenas.” I was in heaven. Cheesy t-shirts, neon jackets, so many flannels, some creepy statues, and most importantly, a photograph of Audrey Hepburn that I may go back for. It was a sign.

It was a successful outing. Libby got one of those cameras, Kari got an awesome stamp collection booklet, and Claire got a creepy smiley sun statue! As I walked back towards home after our class met up and was excused the pavement was glistening and had that fresh post-rain smell. It was a bit muggy, but other than the inescapable heat, I have nothing to complain about. It was a great start to another amazing day in Spain.


Intercambio lingüístico-cultural en la ciudad de Ceuta

El viernes 18 de octubre se produjo el II Intercambio Lingüístico-Cultural Facultad de Educación y Humanidades de Ceuta con el Programa de Lengua y Sociedad. Diecinueve estudiantes de diferentes universidades de Estados Unidos viajaron desde Sevilla a Ceuta para participar en un intercambio académico/cultural con un grupo de 15 estudiantes de diferentes especialidades del campus de Ceuta.

Ambos grupos prepararon unas presentaciones sobre la cultura de sus respectivos lugares de origen en su segunda lengua (inglés/español) para poder empezar a conocerse mejor. Los alumnos pasaron la mayor parte del tiempo en grupos practicando sus lenguas de estudio y conociéndose. Después del almuerzo, todo el grupo participó de una visita guiada por el área de Turismo del Ayuntamiento de Ceuta, disfrutando de las maravillosas vistas de la ciudad.

El intercambio terminó en el Puerto antes de la vuelta del grupo en ferry a Sevilla esa misma tarde.





El pasado jueves, 17 de Octubre, 5 estudiantes de la clase "Social Justice and Community Service" de CIEE tuvieron la oportunidad de acudir a la sede de AAPSS (Asociación de Amistad con el Pueblo Saharaui de Sevilla). En la foto podemos ver de izquierda a derecha a Sara Theiss (Liberal Arts), Morgan Reiss (Profesora), Kailyn Kowolenko, (Liberal Arts), Samantha Rosado (Advanced Liberal Arts), Matheus Matioli (Liberal Arts) y Carolina Muñoz (Business and Society).

Durante una hora y media estuvieron aprendiendo conocimientos sobre la historia y el conflicto del Sahara Occidental, la vida del pueblo saharaui entre los campamentos de población refugiada en Tinduf, Argelia, y los territorios ocupados del Sahara Occidental, y los proyectos llevados a cabo por la Asociación de Amistad con el Pueblo Saharaui de Sevilla - AAPSS desde su fundación en 1992.


Nuns, lentil stews, and street market wanderings

This post is by Will Dehn, an International Business and Management Major and Spanish Minor at University of Wisconsin - Madison School of Business. During the Fall 2013 semester he is participating in the CIEE Business and Society Program.

Hands-down, one of my favorite things about studying abroad in Sevilla with CIEE this semester has been the opportunity to participate in so many different cultural visits and tours every single week. CIEE has an amazing student services team that organizes trips, workshops, company visits, and activities with Spaniards for all students to take advantage of. After participating in quite a few of these activities over the course of the 7 weeks I’ve been here, I’ve found that they really allow students to see a different side of the city and have definitely made me feel much more like a true sevillano. One other small detail worth mentioning before I get into what exactly these tours entail: I can’t really think of any word more appealing to a college student than “free.” All of these tours are included in our tuition, and they have definitely felt free to me! I can’t imagine not taking advantage of these excellent cultural enrichment opportunities, so I highly recommend them to any student who is studying abroad here in Sevilla with CIEE.


This past week, I was able participate in a variety of activities ranging from a cooking workshop with a lovely sevillana señora in our local neighborhood, to a guided tour of a street market crowded with vendors that takes place on Thursday mornings, to a walk through a number of convents in the historic part of town, El Centro. Needless to say, I really enjoyed all of them and they were a great way to keep busy during some of my free time each day.


Now I’m pretty sure I know what you’re thinking. “A convent tour? Huh. Sounds… intriguing?” I was thinking the exact same thing when I signed up – slightly more than skeptical. But I had some free time between my classes, and in the end I decided to participate – it was definitely worth it! I learned that one of the main ways that the convents here in Sevilla bring in some money is by selling sweets and snacks like homemade muffins, jellies, or pastries. After learning more history about these convents and chatting with some monjas (nuns) about how they came to enter the convents, we were able to enjoy some muffins and delicious orange jelly. Who doesn’t like some free Spanish food?



The other activity I participated in last week ironically enough had a delicious food-filled ending as well. I’ve always enjoyed cooking with my mother back in the States (Hi, Mom!), so when I saw that we had the opportunity to learn how to make some traditional Spanish cuisine through participating in a cooking workshop AND that we could enjoy it all at the end, I was definitely in. 7:00pm rolled around (still way too early for dinner here in Sevilla), and I made my way to the apartment of a local señora. She was gracious enough to open up her home to ten of us CIEE students and taught us some local recipes. I know that we were all very appreciative of her willingness to involve us more in some traditional Spanish culture. While it was a bit of a squeeze fitting all of us in her modest, Spanish-sized kitchen, we got cozy and got to work. By the end, we had learned how to make a lentil stew “guiso de lentejas” and a dish called “huevos rellenos” which was basically Spanish version of deviled eggs back in the US. ¡Qué rico!



All in all, the activities and tours that CIEE organizes for students are definitely something you don’t want to miss. If you have the opportunity and free time to participate, go for it! I most definitely will be participating, and will continue to write here on the CIEE Blog about my adventures in the process.


Navigating Space, El entorno

This post is by Jennifer Recinos, a Film and Cinema Studies Major at Brandeis University. During the Fall 2013 semester she is participating in the CIEE Communication, New Media and Journalism program.

I made this video as a way to demonstrate how I navigate new spaces/environments. It's supposed to reflect myself through the places and people I choose to surround myself with. It is about self confidence, gender expression, friendship and self reflection whilst in Seville, Spain.


Navigating Space, El entorno. from Jennifer Recinos on Vimeo.


Café para una / Coffee for one

This video is by Riley Stevenson, a Journalism Major at University of Oregon. During the Spring 2013 semester she was participating in the CIEE Communication, New Media and Journalism program


This is Riley Stevenson's final project for the New Media and Audiovisual Workshop. She did it both for the course and as her contribution to the Remapping Europe project with Zemos98.


Trading In My Barbecue Sauce for Olive Oil

This post is by Garrett Vangelisti, a Business Administration and Spanish Major at University of Oregon. During the Fall 2013 semester he is participating in the Business and Society program.


9 out of 10 Sevillanos, hispanohablantes in general, cannot pronounce my name. My seemingly simple American name - Garrett - typically sounds something like a very forced "Gaahwww-rrrrreh." My host mom often butchers my name so badly that I'm not even aware she's talking to me, which gets frustrating at times. My frustration sometimes carries over when I try to apply an "outside-looking-in" approach to understanding Spanish culture. After two weeks of trying to impose my American name and American love for barbecue sauce and ranch dressing, I decided to start living more like a Sevillano.



From that point on, I chose to use my middle name Xavier - easily pronounced "Chavi" like the beloved Spanish fútbol player. Despite the triviality of this simple change, it was still an important moment in realizing that I would have a more rewarding experience if I immersed myself in daily Sevillano life. I began volunteering at a local Food Bank that helps those affected by the nearly 30% unemployment crisis. People come from all over the city, mothers and unemployed businessmen alike. While passing out basic staples like lentils, rice, and milk to each visitor I ask them about their favorite historical sites and activities around Andalusia. Following many of these suggestions, in just one month's time I've hiked Mulhacén (the highest mountain in Spain at 11,400 ft), attended mass at one of the largest cathedrals in the world, played fútbol with local Spanish friends, and ran a 10K alongside 25,000 Sevillanos in the 25th annual Carrera Nocturna del Guadalquivir. Last week I started my internship with the Spanish tech company Telefónica, and my first day in the office was quite the whirlwind of adapting to new jargon and etiquette. While my internship is already shaping up to be the most challenging part of studying abroad, I am optimistic that I will learn and grow the most from this experience.

2013-10-05 19.40.11





In the last few weeks, my Spanish immersion has been unbelievably rich and rewarding. My host mom is the best cook in Sevilla, I guarantee it. Her "comida casera española" has exposed me to many amazing new dishes. And while I do miss drenching my chicken in barbecue sauce, I've adopted the custom of using Spanish olive oil….on basically everything. While it's difficult at times adjusting to a new cuisine, new culture, and new name, at the end of these three short months I will have some lasting relationships and a good grasp on what it's like to live like a Sevillano.


Time for a Bit of Reflection

This post is by Kailyn Kowolenko, a French Language and Literature First Major and Spanish Second Major at Gordon College. During the Fall 2013 semester she is participating in the Liberal Arts program

I have officially been in Seville for a little more than a month. I think it is about time for a bit of reflection on my life here: the little things that I love about Spain that have become so ordinary to me now but I will know I will miss once I'm back in the states, the things about life here in Seville that only someone who lives here can learn, the things that make Seville, Seville. So here we go with a little list of 5 things I love about Seville.

1. I love the evening in Seville, just as the sun is setting over the river. The air is crisp with the cool of the evening and the streets are alive with people going out to end their days with friends. There is just something about this time of night that fills me with peace. This is the best time to take a walk by the river.


2. The people here are so alive and passionate. You can see it as they sit in bars and chat for hours. You can see it in the way they dance, especially when it comes to flamenco. You can see their passion in their music as the street musicians play their instruments and sing their hearts out on the streets. You can see their passion at the bull fights and at soccer games. It's a passion for life that I have never seen before. 


3. The food here! It's impossible to not love the food! Their main ingredient is olive oil and they fry just about everything (even bread) and oh, it is so good! I may gain a few pounds here but it will be well worth it. My senora can't seem to stop feeding me! I am determined to get all of her recipes before I leave here! I want to be able to share with my family and friends back home all the wonderful food that I have experienced here. I suppose in a way it is another sign of their passion for a good life. Their passion spills over into their food. Also they have the brilliant idea of tapas! Why do we not have tapa bars in the states?! Below the picture is of churros and chocolate a traditional breakfast (or snack) here in Seville.  


4.  I love being surrounded by history, history that extends far past the creation of the United States and in fact a history that intersects with the history of the United States. In Seville's cathedral rest the remains of Christopher Columbus and within the walls Alcazar lies his personal office. The history of Andalusia doesn't just intersect with the United States but at one time it was the intersection of the world. Seville is known for being home to the three cultures, Judaism, Christianity and Islam and that is something I get to see on my walk to class everyday. For example, the bell tower of the cathedral was once a minaret for the mosque that once stood where the cathedral does now. 


5. The last thing I love about being here isn't something I can show you in a picture. Living abroad isn't like leaving for college. Sure I'm not living with my parents, but its more than that. Living abroad is all about stepping out of your comfort zone. Actually, if you ever really feel comfortable during your study abroad experience you are probably doing it wrong. Everyday I am learning something new that I cannot learn in the States. It may be a swear in Spanish that my Spanish professors would never teach me, or it could be learning from the metro security guard the most economic way to travel the city. Everyday I am interacting with new people from a culture so different from my own. I firmly believe that its an experience that you can never get without studying abroad. After my first semester abroad I went home a different woman and I have no doubt that this time around will produce the same results. Essentially this last point can be summarized by this statement: I love learning in Seville!