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4 posts from June 2011


SUMMER 2011 FAMILIES AND HOME STAYS (CIEE Alcalá. Summer 2011-session 1)

Casa de Mª Cruz.jpg 2   Casa de Mª Cruz Dolores Molina 5 Habitación casa Mara

Every semester when the housing coordinator and I have to decide which family each student will be matched up with, a lot of questions come up. We always try to adapt to what the students say they expect and hope for in their “Housing Questionnaire”, but we don’t always have a perfect math and it’s hard to know if it’ll be a good match. We do the best we know how to and the best we can.

   Habitación casa Pilar Pérez

Habitación de Teresa García

This Summer 2011 (session 1) is going fairly well and we think that, in general, the students feel like they’re in their own home. Some are already getting sad about having to leave. There are funny experiences, intercultural differences, diversity in terms of decorations, a variety of new foods, …but a lot of laughs, above all, a lot of laughs.

As an example, here’s what this student has tos ay:

  • Chelsea Prehn (University of Wisonsin-Madison).


  P1100657 La casa de Chelsea

“I LOVE living with my family!!! My host father knows I have a sweet tooth and every night, when no one is in the kitchen, he gives me more dessert and eats it with me!! J Hee hee hee. My host mother is very nice and when we watch the news, she always has a lot to say about the news reporters clothing styles. HAHA. I love it! My host sister is very nice, too, and when I get home very late, she asks me if I was actually studying or if I was out with my friends. J Sometimes she’s right! I love my orange room and the food is good. Living with my family is like a dream…I always feel like I’m 8 years old again and I’m with my American family, before growing up. I love my Spanish host family! Thank you SO MUCH for choosing them to be my family this summer. Seriously.”


If there are any problems adjusting with the new situation, I talk to both parties to see how we can fix it. Sometimes it’s just that there are misunderstandings or the host mother thinks that you want to be more independent, so she doesn’t talk to you too much, but you want the family to be with you without having to ask for it…Everything has a solution. One example:  


  • Laura Brodziski (University of Wisconsin-Madison).

  Laura B.


“Since the day that Cristina called Nuria, my host mom, things have been better. I think that her work schedule has changed and she seems to be at home more. The food is really good and my bedroom is big. She sits with me when I eat and I watch TV with her and Elena, my host sister. Thank you for calling her! 


  • David Houle (University of New Hampshire)

Davi H.

María Montero en la cocina

Question: Are you thinking about staying in Spain forever yet? ;) It must be tempting! Sounds like you're having an awesome time.

I am!  It’s becoming such a fantastic experience; I love it here!

My first weekend was great!  After Madrid on Friday, I went to a rap concert with my 2 hermanos (brothers) and some of their friends.  They are all so nice and open!  I only felt weird for a little while, but soon enough I was having a great time.

My host parents: Maria y Manuel.  They are really nice!  They speak no English…just really really fast Spanish.  I have lunches and dinners with them and talk for quite awhile!  Speaking “real” Spanish with people who were raised with it is really difficult for me right now.



















































CIEE Alcalá's 2nd. Summer 2011 (session I) News Letter.

Friday, June 3, we went to Madrid capital so that the students could learn how to get around on the commuter train (cercanías) and the Metro with their transportation pass. With this pass, which covers the B3 zone of Madrid, they can travel an unlimited number of times.



We took a long walk through the city to explain where some points of interest are for them to visit them throughout the month: the “Reina Sofía” museum, the “El Prado” museum, the Spanish Parliament (Congress of the Deputies), the Puerta del Sol, the Plaza Mayor, the Royal Palace, the Opera, the Plaza of Spain, etc.



But without a doubt, in addition to the group lunch, going to the movies was a bit hit. The movie chosen was the Spanish film “No tengas miedo” (Don’t be afraid).



And the students already went out on their own the first weekend, putting to use their transportation pass by going to the flea market in Madrid (El Rastro) and to the "El Escorial" town where Felipe the Second (1527-1598) built a Monastery to live in. One of the students also went to a rap concert with his host brother and another went with two of her friends to the "Europe Park" in Torrejón de Ardoz, a city neighboring Alcalá.


  Chicas y sangría


But we can't forget that they are also studying and learning a lot in very little time. In their Institute classes (14 different courses), there are between 22 and 5 students in each class, meaning more attention is paid by the professors to the students.





summer 2011 (session I) ciee alcalá- orientation

Like we do at the start of every program, we would like to send greetings from CIEE Alcalá Staff members: Cristina Blanco –resident director-, Danielle Stanko –student assistant intern-and Fausto Zamora –culture guide during orientation and CIEE trips- to all the directors and advisors at the various North American universities that have sent students to participate in the CIEE Alcalá summer program.    


All of the students arrived more or less on Schedule, except for two suitcases that “decided to do more tourism than was planned” for a couple of days, but fortunately arrived.  

P1150002 P1150100

All of the students in the orientation sessions at the Hotel CAMPANILE proved to be strong and resisted the “jet lag” very well, listening to all of the sessions regarding safety in Alcalá, safety for women, health insurance, pre-registration, trips, families, etc.



 We loved this group’s positive and open attitude at their first Spanish meal and their interest in trying new things. It was a lot of fun.


 But one of the funniest moments of orientation was when we went to buy cell phones in the department store “El Corte Inglés”. Learning to use their phones in Spanish and Exchange numbers in Spanish is always a reason to laugh.


Of course the star moment of the orientation was when the students met their host families.  



Tapas in Alcalá

P1040652Fried sausage and beer


Muscles with vinaigrette topping 

Tesis Ernesto y CLub lectura Fall 08 008

Jamón Ibérico (cured Iberian ham)

tapa in Spain is basically an appetizer that is served in some bars or restaurants and comes with your drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic). This “traveling consumption” (in one place, you have one, then on to the next place) is called “tapeo” or “ir de tapas”. In many regions of Spain it’s pretty common to go out for dinner or lunch on the weekend and just eat tapas, which is a way to eat commonly referred to as “picar” or “picoteo”.

Tapas have become a hallmark of Spanish identity and they are served in the highest, most important reception banquets. Nowadays there are bars that offer tapa specialties and this phenomenon has been called “miniature cuisine”.

Tapas are mixed with the concept of socializing, which is why the tapa is linked to the action of “tapear”. The bars, which are seen as gathering places, are the ideal spot for tapas. From this concept come the verbs: “tapear” (eating tapas), “ir de tapas” (to go from bar to bar to eat different tapas).

In some parts of Spain, you have to pay for the tapa apart from the drink, and in other places it’s free, which is usually the “tapas dinner”, to the extent that the success of a bar can greatly depend on the quality and quantity of their tapas and they make up a key part of Spanish cuisine. Even some tourist groups offer tourist routes to have a drink with its included tapa, which is usually something typical from the area. In many other Spanish provinces you can also see cold tapas such as olives, potato chips or nuts, that are served for free at the client’s request, even if you didn’t have anything to drink, because these appetizers make you thirsty and make you want you order a drink.

AceitunasOlive, onion and pickle mixed

Many believe that the history of tapas comes from a Spanish king’s visit to a bar, where he asked for a glass of wine. The city he was visiting was on the coast. When he ordered the drink, the wind began to blow and so that the sand that the wind had brought up in the air didn’t go into the glass, the waiter put a “lid” (tapa”) on top of the glass: a slice of ham. The king asked why he did it, and the wait told him.

 Afterwards the king ordered another glass, and also asked that it had a new “tapa” on it. This is one of the most popular beliefs about how the tapas became to be. Another explanation going around says that in the Middle Ages, it was normal to put pieces of bread, ham and cheese as “lids” for wine and liquors, and afterwards these foods were eaten with the drink.

Alcalá de Henares is known for, amongst many other things, its gastronomy and particularly for its tapas. From CIEE, we want to make it easier for you, which is why we’re offering you our “Tapas Route” through Cervantes’s city. A great way to combine a visit of the historical city with the typical food in the city.

You can start this route from any point in the city, although our recommendation is to begin on one of the most emblematic streets in the city, Calle Mayor, where we can walk on a stone road, see Cervantes’s house, and go off on other close streets. 


La casera, vino y tapasPan, choizo, quesos y vino

Tortilla de patata

La tortilla de patatas

 Macandé is a place to keep in mind for its different possibilities of where to sit or have your tapa. It offers a good quality-price ratio, daily and weekend menus, tapas, tostas (toasted bread with meats or cheeses on top), pates, etc. The terrace is open year-round, all this in the Jewish neighborhood. 

Maimónides, is a pub, tapas bar and seafood restaurant. It has traditional Spanish cuisine, a daily menu, a long list of side portions, and generous quantities of appetizers. A large place with a seasonal terrace, also in the Jewish neighborhood, in front of Cervantes’s house. 

Casa NINO founded in 1953. Homemade food, daily menu and à la carte, side portions, tapas, fresh fish every day (codfish is the specialty), beef, vegetables, homemade desserts, beer, terraces. Right in the old part of town. 

If there is a must-see on the Calle Santiago, it’s the Campus University bar. It is a large bar for all types of people, with its English style and decorations, in the city center. Unique tapas from different regions, daily menus, exquisite side portions, live performances, and drinks at night. 

The new restaurante LA TABERNA DE RUSTY  on Calle Tinte just opened this new location that can hold 140 consumers. They have their traditional and also more modern tapas, a daily and weekend menu. A la carte selections including homemade meat and fish dishes and Mediterranean cuisine, right next to the Plaza de Cervantes. 

The Cenador y Sidrería Sagasti are part of the “la Esquina Complutense” Group, right in the middle of the city. A charming place with an à la carte menu, group menus, banquets and ceremonias, daily menus, all with privacy and professionalism. 

The Ruta de los mesones is the union of four establishments whose characteristics have made them typical spots to visit in the city of Cervantes. This gastronomic route is a must. The food is Spanish and seasonal. They offer daily menus, company meals, reservations, and a café-bar. Each of the four locations has an old style decoration and a unique monumental environment.  

Las cuadras de Rocinante. Your tavern with “Cervantes taste” from the Golden Age, tapas, wine, breads, stewed coffee, checkered tableclothes, etc. Closed on Wednesdays. 
C/ Carmen Calzado, 1, Tel.: 91 880 08 88 

Mesón Casa Bayton Your restaurant in the center of Alcalá. Market cuisine, seasonal menu, inviting atomosphere, profesional service. Closed on Tuesdays. 
Plaza de Cervantes, 21, Tel.: 91 882 39 94 

El Otro Foro – Multipurpose location – café-bar, tapas, restaurant and club. Contemporary and avant-garde cuisine. Dancing and fun at night, great musical selection featuring the best DJs, chill, new-jazz, soul, komky, etc. C/ Gallo, 10, Tel.: 91 883 28 27

La Casa Vieja – Your great old-style tavern. Spanish cuisine, wood oven, brewery, summer terrace. Closed on Mondays. 
San Felipe Neri, 7 (On the corner of C/ Mayor), Tel.: 91 883 62 81

Patatas-bravas"Patatas bravas" (Potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce)