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5 posts from February 2011

02/14/2011

Weekend Trip to Madrid

    This last weekend some of my new friends from CIEE and I all traveled to Madrid to experience what the city had to offer. I have lived in San Francisco and spent ample time in New York City, so I was anxious to see how this foreign metropolis would compare to the big cities I have visited. Friday night we arrived hungry and eager for some excitement. We were given advice to try some tapas at a local Cideria called El Tigre. This tapas bar offered free food with the purchase of a drink and was very generous with the portions. After only spending five euros in a city that is infamously overpriced, my friends and I left full of delicious local treats. We spent the rest of our night at some of Madrid's famous discotecas that are arguable some of the best in the world.
    The next day we woke up early and walked from Puerta del Sol to the Prado Museum. This museum impressed all of us with its amazing exhibitions of european masterpieces, including magnificent works by Goya, Valazquez, and El Greco to name a few. After the museum we walked through el Parque del Retiro where we ate a picnic lunch on the steps overlooking a man made lake. This park was amazing and was full of Spanish locals that all came down to take a nice siesta or eat a picnic in the sun. Again we spent the night eating amazing tapas and experiencing the hustle and bustle of Madrid's crowded nightlife. On sunday we woke up to a feast of churros con chocalate that were absolutely amazing. Even though I only spent a weekend in Madrid I would argue that this city is one of the more special places in the world. We all headed back to Alicante feeling satisfied with our experience in the city and ready for another week of school.
Beau C

02/09/2011

Time Flies When You're Having Fun!

Buenas noches!

So two days ago it was three weeks exactly since arriving in Alicante, but it merely feels like it has been a week since leaving America! I finally feel like I have settled into my dorm almost completely as well as getting used to the meals that they serve in la villa! We have decided that the food could be much worse, but at the same time are envious of the home cooked meals that are served in the home stay families! I choose to live in a dorm verses a home stay, which comes with its perks, as well as disadvantages. La Villa, which is located right next to the CIEE office, as well as walking distance to the campus is convenient for my 9 am Spanish class, which I have Monday-Friday. However, it is a hassle to have to take the bus every time you want to venture downtown or to la playa. Although, I did explore around San Vicente last week, and found many shops and stores that had random things, such as hangers, school supplies and laundry detergent, which helped cross a couple of things off of my “to get” list. Overall, I can’t complain with my decision to live in the dorms. My roommate is amazing, and she speaks English as well as Spanish. Which is convenient, yet a horrible thing at the same time, because you must put that much more effort into getting out of your “English speaking comfort zone” to practice your Spanish. But as Randy stated in his blog prior, you really do get what you put into this experience! Cliché right? But honestly, a true statement! You must practice, practice, and practice your Spanish more everyday to get better! There are so many options to practice your Spanish though, such as an intercambio. Which is a Spanish student that wishes to practice their English as well. Also, at the beginning of the program during orientation we met many wonderful and helpful Spanish student helpers, which were very patient with our “Spanglish.” Many of us have stayed in contact with the student helpers and meet up with them for coffee or to go downtown, which is also a wonderful way to practice your Spanish.

 

Well I feel like I have rambled on for a while now and need to get started on my homework…the first week of real classes started Monday and the reality of “school” is finally setting in!

Until next time,

Shelaine

 

Overwhelming success for our "Mío Cid" Language Commitment Program

Contrato_mio_cid

Given that Language in Context students often tell me that they wish we would MAKE THEM speak Spanish more, I found myself contemplating how we could realistically do that. Obviously, neither the language professors nor myself can hold a gun to their heads to MAKE THEM speak Spanish more (or rather prohibit them from speaking English), so after some thought, I decided to create a program to offer them an incentive to speak more Spanish and give them an opportunity to improve their language skills, voluntarily. I'm pleased to introduce the brand-new "Mío Cid" Language Commitment Program for Language in Context students.

Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, El Cid, is one of the most important heroes in Spanish history. A Castillian knight, he fought next to the Spanish king, Sancho de Castilla, during the Reconquest in the 11th Century. The people admired him because he was strong, loyal, just, cultured and courageous. He married Lady Jimena in 1074 and they had three children. When Sancho died, the new King Alfonso VI, who was jealous of him, banished him from the region of Castilla. A short time after that, El Cid conquered the kingdom of Valencia. He created a new justice system and restored the Christian religion, all the while respecting the Arabs that lived in the city. Legend has it that El Cid even won a battle after his death...

Students that wish to be a “Rodrigo” or a “Jimena” pledge to speak only Spanish in their language classes, attend one CIEE sponsored activity a month, meet with an intercambio on a weekly basis, and write about their experiences in the Language in context Language Class Blog. Although the program is voluntary, I am proud to announce that all 23 students have chosen to participate. You can read all about their experiences at the following link:

http://rincondecontext.blogspot.com

 

02/05/2011

Three Weeks Already!

Espanol Intensiva is now over! Three weeks has pass and I am completely overloaded with Spanish vocab/grammar. At this point even when I’m speaking English I find myself throwing Spanish words in-between. Just a little background on me I’m originally from “Chi-Town” Chicago. I’m a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the last time I took Spanish was in high school. I took two years, and of course, I remember nothing. I always wanted to learn Spanish mainly because many of my friends spoke it and also that I’m fascinated with Spanish speaking women but that’s another story. So when I got here all I had was a few common phrases like “Tengo hambre” and a small vocab that included “comida” y “carne asada”. “Carne asada”  because I love steak burritos, can’t get enough of them. Pero ahora, I know so much vocabulary right now its crazy. It’s funny also because I don’t even know how to use half of them in a sentence. The intensive course was very useful and it does take effort. Even though I claim to know at least basic Spanish, determining whether or not a “palabra” (palabra=word) is feminine or masculine was definitely the last thing I remembered. None the less, I made it through. I’ve gotten a little better at understanding people also because now I no longer have a blank stare on my face when someone talks to me. I still sit there for like 30 seconds, google translating in my brain, figuring out what they just said. But at least its not 5 minutes with a dumb look on my face saying si si knowing I have no clue what they’re talking about. Though, for some reason I still don’t really understand males when they talk. I don’t know why but talking to a female it’s easier for me to follow than a guy. Maybe its because I listen to my profesora (female professor) talk for 4hrs a day and the fact that I only live with a host madre. Whatever it is I need to fix it because only comprehending about half the population doesn’t look too good then again I’m not really complaining. Going out with Spaniards to parties and bars is hilarious. It’s just always funny to point out the differences between Americans and Spaniards. Especially the way they dance and the type of music the listen to. I’m really excited for our weekend trips to start. Our next one is in two weeks and we’re going to Barcelona. That will probably be the next time I blog so until then.

Adios!

DSC01621
Small Group Pic on the Guadalest y Villajoyosa Excursion

02/01/2011

New year, new program, new adventures...Welcome Spring 2011 participants!

Hello again, I'm Jennifer Holleyman, the Resident Director of the Language in Context program at the CIEE Alicante Study Center. Well, we've made it through the Orientation and all of our Spring participants are settled in either with their homestay families or in the dorms, and have completed the first half of their intensive Spanish course. I meant to post this blog yesterday, but because I didn't find the time, one of our new bloggers for the spring program, Randy, beat me to the punch! Oh, well, I will instead take advantage of this opportunity to thank him for starting the blog for this semester! In my opinion, his observations and advice so far are very perceptive (funny story included). I'm looking forward to reading more about his and the other two students who will be participating in this blog's experiences this semester, and I hope you all will enjoy them too! Happy reading...