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14 posts from October 2011

10/31/2011

Step to the side Paris, Soria is the city of love- Lisandra Rodriguez-Cole (College of Notre Dame of Maryland)- Fall 2011

        Lisandra en Soria

 

 Acaba con la idea de París, Soria es la ciudad de amor

 

            Cuando digo que voy a viajar a otra parte de España, todos piensan que voy a Barcelona, Sevilla o Valencia. Sin embargo, ir a estos lugares cuesta mucho (aunque sea fácil hacerlo por cuenta propia) y entonces es importante viajar gratis cuando puedo. En el Instituto Benjamin Franklin donde está CIEE Alcalá, casi cada viernes hay un viaje GRATIS.

 

    Este semestre fuimos a Soria durante un día. Para los españoles que conozco, Soria es una ciudad vieja y sin nadie, incluso los que viven allí, no quieren estar allí. Pero a mi profesor de literatura no le importa lo que la gente diga y nosotros fuimos de todos modos. Cuando llegamos, fuimos a ver un olmo –un árbol- seco y él nos leyó un poema sobre el árbol. El poema era sobre el amor y el círculo de vida.

  Olmo

Después fuimos a un cementerio y hablamos sobre las costumbres católicas en relación a los muertos. Era interesante estar allí con algo físico y no nada más verlo en un libro. Antes de comer, fuimos a un monte y también fuimos al río Duero. El monte era la escena de un cuento sobre fantasmas en la noche de los muertos. El cuento dice que cada 31 de octubre  se despiertan los espíritus de los que murieron en ese monte y que matan a cualquiera persona que esté por allí. ¡Qué miedo!

Cementerio

Parte del poema sobre el olmo

  El puente

Cuando ya todos estábamos asustados, mi profesor nos llevo al río Duero para hablar sobre el amor. Por arriba del río, hay un puente y en el puente los enamorados ponen candados como símbolo de su amor. Ellos decían que si el candado estaba allí, el amor siempre estaría también. ¡Qué romántico! No tenía un candado, pero intentaré regresar y poner uno con el nombre de mi novio.

 

Al final del viaje, comimos en una plaza y hablamos de todo lo que habíamos aprendido. Era interesante tener clase en los lugares que habían inspirado los poemas y cuentos que habíamos leído. Pero sobre todo, Soria es una ciudad de amantes y misterio, y es un lugar que todos deben visitar.

 

 

 

Step to the side Paris, Soria is the city of love

 

            When I say that I am traveling to another part of Spain, everyone thinks I’m going to Barcelona, Sevilla or Valencia. However, going to these places is expensive and therefore it is important to travel for free whenever possible. At the Benjamin Franklin Institute, almost every Friday there is a trip. This semester we went to Soria for a day. For all of the Spaniards that I know, Soria is an old city and no one, including those who live there, want to be there. My literature professor didn’t care what people said and we went anyway. When we arrived, we visited an elm tree that was destroyed and he read us a poem about it. The poem was about love and the circle of life. After that, we went to a cemetery and we talked about catholic burial customs.  It was interesting to be there with something physical not just seeing it in a book. Before eating lunch, we went to a mountain and we also went to the Duero River. The mountain was the setting for a story about phantoms on Halloween. The story says that every October 31st, the spirits of those who died on that mountain while fighting wake up and kill anyone who is around. How scary! When we were all scared, my professor took us to the Duero River to talk about love. Over the river, there is a bridge and on the bridge, those in love put locks on the railing as a symbol of their love. They say that if the lock is there, there love will always be there too. How romantic! I didn’t have a lock but I Intend to return and put one with the name of my boyfriend. At the end of the trip, we ate in a plaza and talked about everything that we learned. It was interesting to have class in the places that inspired the stories and poems that we read. All in all, Soria is a city of lovers and mystery and it is a place where everyone should visit.

 

Volunteering in Alcalá

Volunteering in Alcalá de Henares

What do you think of when you think of “volunteering”? Perhaps going to a retirement center and spending time with the elderly? Or how about a homeless shelter to serve food? Rebuilding houses after a natural disaster? Maybe in your university you tutor in your area of expertise. Well here in Spain, those opportunities exist as well. However, for our students, the most common type of volunteering is quite simple! Talking in English!

We understand that when coming here, your primary concern is improving your Spanish and learning about the Spanish culture. But don’t worry, even though you’ll be speaking in English when you volunteer, you’ll undoubtedly learn a lot of Spanish along the way. Let me explain…

So, we’ve got a great lady here (Teresa de la Riva) who works in the Instituto. She also collaborates with local schools (either pre-schools or elementary) to arrange for American students (aka YOU!) to go to the school and dedicate some of your time to teaching the students English. Most students usually go twice a week for about an hour, either in the morning, when the school is in session but may have a break, or in the afternoon for the afterschool program.

Colegio bilingue

Now, I know that when I say “teach”, that might be a little intimidating if you’ve never had practice teaching or tutoring before. But in reality, what you’re doing is singing typical American children’s songs, talking about colors, numbers, animals, etc., or even just playing with the kids. If it’s around the time of a popular American holiday (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, etc.), then you can even teach a mini-lesson about how the holiday is traditionally celebrated in the United States.

When I said that you’ll learn a lot of Spanish too, I wasn’t lying. Yes, you are talking to them in English. But many times they are very young and can’t speak too well in English, so they’ll respond to you in Spanish. But don’t worry; they’re soaking in the information you give like little sponges. With their responses, you’ll learn a whole new series of words and expressions that only the kids can teach you! Also, you’ll get an inside look of how the Spanish educational system works by working alongside teachers and you'll be able to compare and contrast with the schools in the United States. 

Niños
Each semester there are more and more students who want to volunteer and they have found it to be a very fun and enriching experience. To find out more, students just have to talk to Cristina or myself once they’re in Alcalá, and we’ll work with Teresa to find you a perfect school for what you want and need during your time in Spain. 

 

10/27/2011

Eating on All Saints’ day (November 1st) in Alcalá- Spain- Fall 2011

Eating on All Saints’ day (November 1st) in Alcalá- Fausto Zamora

P1100763


To make the day a bit less bitter, we must not forget that we remember all the deceased, the popular wisdom generated the custom of eating special foods.

I will mention the sweets, because I have a sweet tooth, but diabetics or “top models” should refrain from trying them! If you peek into the window of Salinas pastry shop in the Plaza de Cervantes, you’ll be able to see some of them and I’m sure you’ll want to go in and taste them.

 

  Saints’ bones. (Huesos de santo)

   Huesos-de-santo2

If there’s one typical sweet for All Saints’ Day, it’s the “saints’ bones”. Made with a marzipan dough, these sweets are covered with a syrup and have different fillings. They are shaped like bones, which is where its name comes from. The saints’ bones make up part of the pastry and baked goods in Castile and Spain in general, and it’s very common to eat them across the peninsula on November 1st.

 

 Wind Fritters (Buñuelos o buñuelos de viento)

   Buñuelos-de-viento-580x502

Though they are perhaps more well-known toe at during “Holy Week”, these fritters are also eaten for All Saints’ Day. They’re very simple to make, and the recipe basically consists in a dough made with flour, sugar and a filling that could be one of many flavors. The fritters are cheaper and lighter than the Saints’ bones, and their roots go back to the “Deep Castile”.

 

  Quince Jelly (Dulce de membrillo)

  Membrillo_M Dulce_de_membrillo
 

This is a very fall treat because it’s during this time when the fruit is harvested from the Quince tree and a type of jelly or compote is made in the home. Careful, though: quince can’t be eaten raw. The jelly is made simply by boiling the pulp of the quince with the same amount of sugar, resulting in a block of jelly that can be cut to go with or fill different types of culinary dishes.

 

“Pestiños” (There is no English translation!)

Pestiños

  

It’s tradition to eat them at this time of year. They’re pretty easy to make, since there are only three main ingredients: flour, olive oil and sugar, but the key is in frying the dough, and that’s another story. There are lots of variations of the recipe, sometimes adding lemon, honey or Jerez wine.

 

  Roasted chestnuts (Castañas asadas)

Castañas-asadas

 

Since All Saints’ Day is celebrated in fall, it isn’t strange that one of the most typical nuts is eaten to celebrate it: chestnuts. When they’re roasted they are very tasty, and can be easily eaten. The most common way to roast them is over a hot griddle, though they can also be roasted in the fireplace, in a bonfire or even in the oven.

 

 

 

 

 

Mi barrio en Alcalá de Henares, España Jake Lane (Albion College)– otoño 2011

Mi barrio en Alcalá de Henares, España

Jake Lane (Albion College)– otoño 2011-CIEE Alcalá.

  Jake

            Soy Jake Lane de Detroit, Michigan.  Para este semestre de otoño de 2011, estoy estudiando en Alcalá de Henares en la programa CIEE.  En los Estados Unidos, estudio inglés y español.  Estoy aquí en España para mejorar mi habilidad para hablar la lengua y para aprender más de la cultura de España y su gente.  Elegí  vivir con una familia aquí por el factor de la inmersión.  Vivimos en el Barrio del Ensanche que está al norte del centro de la ciudad.  Estoy contento con mi familia y mi barrio aquí en Alcalá porque hay muchos lugares muy cerca de mi casa a los que me gusta ir cada día solo o con mi familia.

 

            En el Barrio del Ensanche, vivo en la calle Octavio Paz que está en  la ruta del autobús 7, el transporte público que uso para ir al centro cada día.  Cuando no estoy en mis clases, estudiando en el Instituto Benjamin Franklin o descansando en la Plaza de Cervantes con mis amigos, estoy pasando tiempo en mi barrio.  Cada día, más o menos, voy con mi hermano Jorge al gimnasio para hacer ejercicio.  El gimnasio está muy cerca de nuestra casa y sólo necesitamos caminar por el puente que pasa por encima de la carretera y ya estamos allí.  También, al otro lado del gimnasio, hay un centro comercial que se llama Carrefour.  En mi primer día aquí en casa, fui a Carrefour con mi madre para comprar cuadernos y carpetas para la escuela.  Ahora, voy a Carrefour un vez cada semana para comprar algo que necesito o para enviar correos a los Estados Unidos.

  IMG_0332

            Durante mi primer mes aquí, Jorge y yo compramos cuatro meses de natación en el colegio –Colegio Gredos San Diego- que está en la misma calle de nuestra casa.  ¡Estoy en el equipo de natación en mi universidad y necesito entrenar mientras estoy aquí!  Vamos a la piscina los lunes y miércoles cada semana.  Como con los otros lugares, podemos caminar porque está muy cerca.  Durante los fines de semana, estudio mucho en casa y a causa de esto, necesito una bebida energética a veces.  Puedo caminar cinco minutos a una tienda que se llama “Frutería Ensanche” para comprar un Red Bull o un Monster cuando voy a estudiar mucho por la noche.  También hay un McDonald’s al otro lado de mi casa, pero no voy a comer allí porque la comida no es muy sana.

  IMG_0328

              IMG_0325

Estoy muy contento con el Barrio del Ensanche y las cosas que puedo hacer fuera del centro de la cuidad.  Creo que tengo suerte de vivir en este barrio porque tiene todas las cosas que necesito y quiero para mi tiempo en España.  ¡Cuando termine el semestre en diciembre 2011, no querré irme!

 

My name is Jake Lane and I am from Detroit, Michigan.  For the 2011 fall semester, I am studying in Alcalá de Henares in the CIEE program.  In the United States, I study English and Spanish.  I am here in Spain to improve my ability to speak the language and to learn more about the culture and people of Spain.  I chose to live with a family here for the immersion factor.  We live in the Barrio de Ensanche which is north of the city center.  I am happy with my family and my neighborhood here in Alcalá because there are many places very close to my house where I like to go every day alone or with my family.

             In the Barrio el Ensanche, I live on the street Octavio Paz which is the route of Bus 7, the public transportation that I use to go to the center every day.  When I am not in my classes, studying in the Institute, or relaxing in the plaza with my friends, I am passing time in my neighborhood.  Every day, more or less, I go to the gym with my brother Jorge to exercise.  The gym is very close to our house and we only need to cross the bridge over the highway and we are there.  Also, on the other side of the gym, there is a supermarket called Carrefour.  On my first day in my family’s house, I went to Carrefour with my mom to buy notebooks and folders for school.  Now, I go to Carrefour once a week to buy something that I need or to send mail to the United States.

             During my first month here, Jorge and I bought four months of swimming at the school on the same street as our house.  I am on the swim team at my university and I need to practice while I am here!  We go to the pool on Monday and Wednesday every week.  Like the other places, we can walk because it’s very close.  During the weekends, I study a lot at home and because of this, I need an energy drink at times.  I can walk five minutes to a store called Frutería Ensanche to buy a Red Bull or a Monster when I am going to study a lot that night.  There is a McDonald’s on the other side from our house but I don’t go to eat there because the food isn’t very healthy.

             I am very happy with the Barrio el Ensancheand the things I can do outside of the city center.  I believe I am lucky to live in this neighborhood because it has everything and I need and want for my time here in Spain.  When I am finished with the semester in December, I will not want to leave!

 

 

10/17/2011

Spanish Music-Música Española (CIEE Alcalá- Fausto Zamora-Fall 2011)

P1180842

Spanish music (Fausto Zamora)


Even though your age has a lot to do with your musical preferences, and my age is pretty far from our beloved CIEE Alcalá students, I’d like to dedicate this post to give you some ideas on how to improve your listening skills in Spanish with music from here, from now and then, from Spain. I know that you know Juanes, Shakira, Luis Miguel and some other Hispanic artists, but I want to give you the change to have some other Spanish singers and groups in mind.


With music you can also learn fixed expressions, vocabulary that you can’t find in the books, different ways of pronunciation depending on the geographical zone, etc.


Examples of Groups and Artists
Alejandro Sanz, Alex Ubago , Amaia Montero, Amaral, Celtas Cortos, Concha Buika, Concha Piquer,David Bisbal , Diego el Cigala , El Arrebato, El Canto del Loco, El Sueño de Morfeo, Enrique Iglesias,Enrique Bunbury, Estopa, Gabinete Caligari, Joaquín Sabina, La Oreja de Van Gogh, Malú, Mecano, Melendi ,Nena Daconte, Rosario Flores, Vetusta Morla,…
 
Steps
•       First, you should choose one of the names given above.
•       Then, and before listening to anything, look up the musical biography of the group or soloist (that way you can practice the past tenses and vocabulary, improving your reading comprehension).
•       Then, choose a random song.
•       Listen to the song. If you don’t like the style, don’t worry. It’s more about practicing Spanish, not about dancing and singing the rhythm of the music.
•       Then listen a second time, trying to write as many works or phrases that you can understand.
•       Finally, look up the lyrics of the song on the internet. Don’t trust them, some of them are poor transcriptions, so listen again to check that what you’re reading and listening to are the same thing.
•       If there are any differences, correct them.

Now you’re ready to sing…but since you know that my input in this blog is culture and more specifically, Spanish food and gastronomy, I don’t want to miss the chance to send you the best song ever to talk about some of the traditional Spanish dishes.
It’s by the group “Vainica Doble” (a Spanish music pop duo, made up of Carmen Santonja and Gloria Van Aerssen, who worked together since 1969—you guys weren’t even born yet and maybe even some of your parents weren’t born—but Carmen Santoja died in 2000 and the other didn’t continue singing). You can hear it at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCxFbGXtQF0:
 

(Lyrics in Spanish)
Siempre que vuelves a casa
me pillas en la cocina
embadurnada de harina
con las manos en la masa

-Niña, no quiero platos finos
vengo del trabajo
y no me apetece pato chino
a ver si me aliñas
un gazpacho con su ajo y su pepino

Papas con arroz, bonito con tomate
cochifrito, caldereta,
migas con chocolate,
cebolleta en vinagreta,
morteruelo, lacón con grelos,
bacalao al pil pil...
...y un poquito perejil

-Chiquillo, que yo hice un cursillo
para ‘Cordon Bleu’
-Eso ya lo sé, pero chiquilla...
-...¿Qué?
-Dame pepinillos, y yo los remojaré
con una copita de Ojén

Papas con arroz, bonito con tomate
cochifrito, caldereta,
migas con chocolate,
cebolleta en vinagreta,
morteruelo, lacón con grelos,
bacalao al pil pil...
...y un poquito perejil

Papas con arroz, bonito con tomate
cochifrito, caldereta,
migas con chocolate,
cebolleta en vinagreta,
morteruelo, lacón con grelos,
bacalao al pil pil...
...y un poquito perejil

Vocabulary:
Pillar: to catch (someone)
Embadurnado: covered in (something)
Harina: flour
Masa: dough
Pato: duck
Aliñar: to season
Cochifrito: fried lamb or goat meat dish
Caldereta: stew made with potato, onion, oil, wine and some type of meat or seafood
Migas: typical dish made with bread crumbs, olive oil, grapes and pork
Cebolleta: scallion
Morteruelo: stew with pork liver
lacón con grelos: Boiled shoulder of pork with turnip tops
Bacalao al pil pil: Codfish in pil pil sauce (garlic and pepper sauce)
Perejil: Parsley
Remojar: to soak



 

 



La música española (Fausto Zamora)


Aunque en cuestión de música la edad que tienes te condiciona, y la mía dista bastante de la de nuestros queridos estudiantes de CIEE Alcalá, quiero utilizar este post para daros ideas de cómo mejorar vuestra capacidad auditiva en español con música de aquí, de ahora y de antes, de España. Sé que conocéis a Juanes, a Shakira, a Luis Miguel y a algunos hispanos más, pero quiero daros la oportunidad de tener en mente otros nombres de cantantes y grupos españoles.
Con la música además puedes aprender expresiones fijas, vocabulario que no está en los libros, formas de pronunciar diferentes dependiendo de las zonas geográficas,…

 

Procedimiento

 *   Primero, debéis escoger uno de los nombres que se os propone,
 *   a continuación y antes de escuchar nada, buscad la biografía musical del grupo o solista (así practicas pasados y vocabulario, mejorando tu comprensión lectora),
 *   más tarde elegid una canción al azar,
 *   la escucháis, si no os gusta el estilo, no os preocupéis, de lo que se trata es de practicar español, no de bailar y cantar al ritmo de la música.
 *   Más tarde haced una segunda audición intentando escribir el mayor número de palabras o frases que entendáis.
 *   Finalmente buscad la letra de la canción en internet, no os fiéis de ella, algunas veces están mal transcritas, así que escuchad nuevamente y comprobad que lo que leéis y oís coincide,
 *   si no es así, corregidlo.


Ahora estáis listos para cantar… pero como sabéis que lo mío en este blog es la cultura y muy concretamente la comida y la cocina, no quiero perder esta oportunidad para mandaros la mejor canción de todos los tiempos para hablar de algunos de los platos tradicionales españoles.


Es del grupo  “Vainica Doble” (un dúo español de música pop formado por Carmen Santonja Carmen Santonja y Gloria Van Aerssen que trabajó desde 1969 –aún no habíais nacido y muchos de vuestros padres tampoco, pero en 2000 murió la primera y la otra no siguió cantando) y podéis escucharla en

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCxFbGXtQF0:

Siempre que vuelves a casa
me pillas en la cocina
embadurnada de harina
con las manos en la masa

-Niña, no quiero platos finos
vengo del trabajo
y no me apetece pato chino
a ver si me aliñas
un gazpacho con su ajo y su pepino

Papas con arroz, bonito con tomate
cochifrito, caldereta,
migas con chocolate,
cebolleta en vinagreta,
morteruelo, lacón con grelos,
bacalao al pil pil...
...y un poquito perejil

-Chiquillo, que yo hice un cursillo
para `Cordon Bleu`
-Eso ya lo sé, pero chiquilla...
-...¿Qué?
-Dame pepinillos, y yo los remojaré
con una copita de Ojén

Papas con arroz, bonito con tomate
cochifrito, caldereta,
migas con chocolate,
cebolleta en vinagreta,
morteruelo, lacón con grelos,
bacalao al pil pil...
...y un poquito perejil

Papas con arroz, bonito con tomate
cochifrito, caldereta,
migas con chocolate,
cebolleta en vinagreta,
morteruelo, lacón con grelos,
bacalao al pil pil...
...y un poquito perejil

 

 

 

 

 

La música española (Fausto Zamora)

Aunque en cuestión de música la edad que tienes te condiciona, y la mía dista bastante de la de nuestros queridos estudiantes de CIEE Alcalá, quiero utilizar este post para daros ideas de cómo mejorar vuestra capacidad auditiva en español con música de aquí, de ahora y de antes, de España. Sé que conocéis a Juanes, a Shakira, a Luis Miguel y a algunos hispanos más, pero quiero daros la oportunidad de tener en mente otros nombres de cantantes y grupos españoles.

Con la música además puedes aprender expresiones fijas, vocabulario que no está en los libros, formas de pronunciar diferentes dependiendo de las zonas geográficas,…

Ejemplos de Grupos/Artistas

Alejandro Sanz, Alex Ubago , Amaia Montero, Amaral, Celtas Cortos, Concha Buika, Concha Piquer, David Bisbal , Diego el Cigala , El Arrebato, El Canto del Loco, El Sueño de Morfeo, Enrique Iglesias, Enrique Bunbury, Estopa, Gabinete Caligari, Joaquín Sabina, La Oreja de Van Gogh, Malú, Mecano, Melendi , Nena Daconte, Rosario Flores, Vetusta Morla,…

 

Procedimiento

  • Primero, debéis escoger uno de los nombres que se os propone,
  • a continuación y antes de escuchar nada, buscad la biografía musical del grupo o solista (así practicas pasados y vocabulario, mejorando tu comprensión lectora),
  • más tarde elegid una canción al azar,
  • la escucháis, si no os gusta el estilo, no os preocupéis, de lo que se trata es de practicar español, no de bailar y cantar al ritmo de la música.
  • Más tarde haced una segunda audición intentando escribir el mayor número de palabras o frases que entendáis.
  • Finalmente buscad la letra de la canción en internet, no os fiéis de ella, algunas veces están mal transcritas, así que escuchad nuevamente y comprobad que lo que leéis y oís coincide,
  • si no es así, corregidlo.

 

 

Ahora estáis listos para cantar… pero como sabéis que lo mío en este blog es la cultura y muy concretamente la comida y la cocina, no quiero perder esta oportunidad para mandaros la mejor canción de todos los tiempos para hablar de algunos de los platos tradicionales españoles.

 

 

Es del grupo  “Vainica Doble” (un dúo español de música pop formado por Carmen Santonja y Gloria Van Aerssen que trabajó desde 1969 –aún no habíais nacido y muchos de vuestros padres tampoco, pero en 2000 murió la primera y la otra no siguió cantando) y podéis escucharla en http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCxFbGXtQF0:

 

Siempre que vuelves a casa
me pillas en la cocina
embadurnada de harina
con las manos en la masa


-Niña, no quiero platos finos
vengo del trabajo
y no me apetece pato chino
a ver si me aliñas
un gazpacho con su ajo y su pepino

Papas con arroz, bonito con tomate
cochifrito, caldereta,
migas con chocolate,
cebolleta en vinagreta,
morteruelo, lacón con grelos,
bacalao al pil pil...
...y un poquito perejil

-Chiquillo, que yo hice un cursillo
para `Cordon Bleu`
-Eso ya lo sé, pero chiquilla...
-...¿Qué?
-Dame pepinillos, y yo los remojaré
con una copita de Ojén

Papas con arroz, bonito con tomate
cochifrito, caldereta,
migas con chocolate,
cebolleta en vinagreta,
morteruelo, lacón con grelos,
bacalao al pil pil...
...y un poquito perejil

Papas con arroz, bonito con tomate
cochifrito, caldereta,
migas con chocolate,
cebolleta en vinagreta,
morteruelo, lacón con grelos,
bacalao al pil pil...
...y un poquito perejil 

 

10/13/2011

Annual Medieval Market in Alcalá

MedievalMain Street decorations

Every year around this time, Alcalá celebrates its “Semana Cervantina”, or Cervantes Week, in commemoration of Cervantes’ birthday, October 9th. During this week there are many events, (theatrical performances, story telling, concerts, conferences) all revolving around one theme: the Medieval times, which is when Cervantes lived and wrote his most famous work, “El Quijote”. These events take place in various places in the historical center of Alcalá, and the biggest (and most visible!) of these events in the spectacular Medieval Market, which lasts 6 days. It is said to be the largest Medieval Market in Europe, which is probably why it’s hard to even walk down the streets during this time.

During these days, the Market is set up around the Old University in the San Diego Square, the Plaza de Cervantes, Main Street (la Calle Mayor), the Plaza de los Irlandeses, the Archbishop’s Palace, and ending with a book fair in the Plaza de los Santos Niños.

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You can find just about anything at the more than 300 stands participating in the market: from hand-crafted jewelry, clothing, and leather products, to homemade soaps, honey from around the region, teas to cure anything from cholesterol to insomnia, house decorations and “good luck witches”, homemade wooden toys for children, and even modern or medieval swords. And not to mention the food! Served both to go and to sit down and eat, market-goers won’t get hungry here. There are candies, nuts, licorice, breads, pastries and cakes, corn on the cob, roasted chestnuts, octopus, kebabs, homemade potato chips, enormous stuffed baked potatoes, tostas (a large piece of toast) with sausage or ham and cheese on top, meat and vegetable shish kebabs, and of course, beer, cider and mixed cocktails.

IMG_7051    olives and pickled eggplant

IMG_7053 pork roast

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various cheeses

All of participants offering their products are dressed in medieval clothing: Women in long tunic dresses for women with a girdle at the waste and lacing up the front or back, sometimes a fancy collared blouse underneath, tights and low-heeled leather shoes, hair up and sometimes with a scarf or bonnet on top; men in baggy knee-length pants with tights underneath, a baggy tunic shirt on top, leather shoes and a woolen hat. This year they must have had a hard time due to the abnormally high temperatures in mid-October! While strolling through the market, you’ll hear a band come by every now and then, playing the bagpipes and drums, just as they did in the Golden Age. Whether you like it or not, you can’t deny that the Market is very interesting and definitely worth seeing.

The CIEE students and staff were able to enjoy the Market and other activities offered during Cervantes Week, as the Institute is just a couple of minutes from all the activity! For a few days, we all felt like we were living in medieval times.

 

IMG_7115dried fruits (figs, raisins, apricots) 

 

 

10/11/2011

The Benjamin Franklin Institute- CIEE Alcalá

The Benjamin Franklin Institute at the University of Alcalá

 

CIEE Alcalá is located in a historical building from the 17th Century convent, called Trinitarios (coming from the monks with the same name: “The Order of the Holy Trinity and of the Redemption of Captives”, or “The Trinitarian Order”, a religious family founded by French San Juan de Mata (1154-1213), from the Provence region, approved by Pope Innocent III on December 17, 1198, to which the praxis of Saint Felix of Valois, co-founder of the Order. It is the first official institution in the Catholic Church dedicated to serving the Redemption with their hands, with no arms and no armor other than mercy, and only trying to give back to the brothers the hope in faith that they were suffering while in captivity.)

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Our building is very special because it was thought up in the 16thcentury, with its pros and cons. It’s beautiful, its façade behind a staircase, is hidden, but at the same time acts as a “photo op” for all of the groups that come through its doors.

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When we enter we can see the weight that history left behind, by pushing the heavy wooden door, but it’s worth all the work just to see the pretty library which was, centuries ago, was the church of this convent. Books and more books fill two floors of shelves that, in another time, were in a sacred place.

 

If we continue down the hallway, there are two “routes”, first crossroads. The expression “all roads lead to Rome”, as we say in Spain, doesn’t matter here. The most important thing is to keep moving along to get to the Benjamin Franklin Institute.

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Once you go inside the glass door of the Institute, to the right are the offices of the professors, the coordinator and co-directors, and to the left are the different programs’ offices. This is where the CIEE office is. A door filled with signs awaits your visit. Lots of information, but all equally interesting, and the most important is that that’s where you can find the “independent travel form”, in addition the the CIEE staff, who are willing to talk, help and advise you with whatever you need.

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“Where are my classes? I can’t find them!!!!!” – says one student.

 

It’s normal. It’s a 17th century building filled with hallways, staircases, hidden corners, doors, etc. It’s the first day; this feeling of being lost will go away after the first week.

 

P1180888 Let’s move on to the classrooms. They all have names of famous writers or scholars of the Spanish language: Miguel de Cervantes, Jorge Guillén, Dámaso Alonso, Rafael Alberti, Luis Rosales, Alejo Carpentier, etc. Would you like to learn who they are? I hope so! It would be perfect to write a post in this blog, to talk to your host families or roommates in the "residencias". You’re welcome to do so.

 

All of the classrooms are equipped with modern technology, something unthinkable before opening these 400-year old doors, right?

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We have a computer lab in the basement of the building. It’s the meeting point for students and, for many, it’s their favorite place, especially when they need the “umbilical cord”, meaning internet, between Spain and the United States.

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Let’s not forget the break room, with coffee, tea, and drink machine, with are much needed mid-morning (12 PM for Spaniards), and help get some energy back. Out the back door of the break room is a patio or garden area, used to walk to another University building or to rest and get some fresh air on the picnic tables.

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And that’s not all…stay tuned for more about the Benjamin Franklin.

 

 

10/06/2011

"The Perfect Score"- Russel Quiñones (Villanova University)- Fall 2011 CIEE Alcalá.

Russel Quiñones (Villanova University)- Fall 2011 CIEE Alcalá.

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The Perfect Score

So I believe I briefly mentioned the Spanish higher education system in an earlier post, and a recent conversation with a friend after un ensayo del coro has inspired me to expand on it a bit.

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Education is a pretty hot commodity here in Spain, because there simply aren’t enough universities throughout the country to match the amount of students. For every major city in Spain, there is usually just one university - some have none. Because of this, colleges are only able to take the best of the best out of el instituto (high school).

 

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As you may or may not know, education is free in Spain, so it would make no sense to admit students without a very serious desire to make the most out of what college offers - acting any differently would be a waste of government money.

Spain’s college application process couldn’t be more distinct from the one we know in the US. To be honest, I wouldn’t even go as far as to call it a process. I remember complaining to no end about the SAT, and how ridiculous I thought it was when faced with a few four hundred page review books. Compared the PAU, the SAT was a walk in the park…

La Universidad de Alcalá.

The PAU is the standardized test that all students graduating from high school with the desire to attend college must take. The kicker: colleges ONLY consider your PAU grade when deciding admittance - nothing else. There is no personal statement, they don’t take into account your extracurricular activities, and there are definitely no interviews.

Instead of 2400, the PAU is scored out of 10, and an individual’s score stretches to two decimal places (for example, 7.85). The exam takes place throughout an entire week during a student’s third year of high school, and it literally covers everything they’ve learned since grade school.

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A student’s desired career slightly changes the form of the exam, but it will normally test Spanish, English**, Philosophy, Math, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Economics, History, and more. Each subject has its own exam throughout the week, all combining to form one final score out of 10.

**It is mandated that all students take English as a language course, and if available, a student may choose to take a second language course as well.

The average student that seriously wants to attend college will spend upwards of an entire year studying for this exam, for about 10 hours a day. Once you receive your score, you apply to colleges with your name, and this three digit number. Based on your score, colleges will then inform you of their decision, and proceed to tell you which career options you may choose from - as each career has a PAU cutoff grade (for example, a career in medicine calls for 9.48).

Generally, students leave el instituto very educated, and prepared to begin their lives. In large part, this is because of those in front of the blackboard, educating the masses. Professors in Spain were described to me using the phrase, “como dioses,” which means, “like gods.” Teachers of all grade levels are considered to be the most highly educated people in Spain, and it is one of the most difficult positions to obtain. Hopefully someday soon the USA will develop this philosophy as well.

  -selectividad 000

"Showin’ Some Leg". RUSSEL QUIÑONES (VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY) CIEE ALCALÁFALL 2011

 

RUSSEL QUIÑONES (VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY) FALL 2011

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September 26, 2011

Showin’ Some Leg

So at this very moment, sitting on the counter in my Spanish family’s kitchen downstairs, is a giants pig’s leg. Yes, a giant pig’s leg. In Spanish, this meat is known as Jamón Iberico, meaning it comes from la Peninsula Iberica, home to Spain and Portugal. We don’t have this type of ham in America, and to be honest, I really have no idea why. It is glorious.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little taken aback when I first saw this puppy sitting on the kitchen counter when I strolled downstairs one morning for el desayuno (breakfast). After asking what the deal was, my family told me that this is a pretty normal happening in most households throughout Spain. Although, perfection does have its price. This leg you see here costs about €250, and those of higher quality can cost up to about €500. Keep in mind the currency exchange. Spaniards don’t mess around when it comes to their ham.

A nice little close up of the hoof.

As opposed to the ham that we’re used to back in the states, the taste of Jamón Iberico is very similar to that of Prosciutto (or as my Italian family pronounces it, Brozjhoot). It’s eaten in super thin slices, and my host dad cuts it up before dinner every night - just about a plate’s worth. While this leg does cost a pretty penny, it lasts forever, and is probably worth it in the long run.

This bag of chips gives a better idea of what the ham looks like uncovered.

Again, I was pretty taken aback when I saw these in a vending machine, but I had to give them a shot. Much different than your run of the mill bag of sour cream and onion, but definitely recommended. Hey mom, think we can get a few legs for when I come back home?

 

ciee-ALCALÁ FALL 2011. ASTURIAS (SPAIN) FIELD TRIP BY RUSSEL QUIÑONES (VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY)

ASTURIAS (SPAIN) BY RUSSEL QUIÑONES (VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY)

 

So I just wrote this whole big post about Asturias, my computer bugged out, and I lost everything. Helpful tip to those out there planning to start a blog: always save your posts while you’re writing them. You’d think I would have learned that from writing papers in high school. Either way, the feeling’s always a bummer.

Anyways! Throughout the semester, my CIEE abroad program take us on two, weekend long trips to different provinces throughout Spain. While I find it a bit debilitating to travel in a large group of Americans in a foreign country, you get less funny looks when the locals realize you’re speaking their language.

This past weekend we went to Asturias, which can be found along Spain’s northwestern coast. While there we had the opportunity to visit four different cities, we scaled “Los Picos de Europa,” and I swam en el mar Cantábrico for the first time in my life.

In comparison to the interior of the country, Asturias is VERY green. Northern Spain is home to some immense natural beauty, and because of this, the majority of this post will be pictures. I know I’ve been lacking a bit when it comes to visual aid, but I’m more of an “experience the moment” kinda guy. I took a bunch this weekend though, so hopefully this will make up for it. Either way, hope you enjoy!

So here’s the first example of Asturias’ natural beauty, haha. This is the sandwich that my host mom packed me for the 7 hour bus ride on Friday morning - biggest sandwich I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. The next few are from Oviedo, Asturias’ capital city.

These two pictures capture well the contrast between modern and historic architecture within Oviedo. The first is a bank in the city’s main plaza, and the second is a side entrance to la Catedral de El Salvador, constructed en el Siglo XVIII (1200’s).

Saturday morning we scaled Los Picos de Europa in a microbus along some of the windiest and most narrow roads on the face of the earth - no joke. Along the way we saw tons of wild sheep, horses, and cows. I’ve never ridden a horse before, and my only interaction with them throughout my life has been along 59th Street in New York City, as they wait to walk tourists around Central Park. I loved seeing them roam free.

Above is a nice shot of el Lago Ercina, one of Los Lagos de Covadonga. In person, this view was absolutely breathtaking. Also, it’s always been a dream of mine to touch a cloud. As you can see, were were totally in the middle of one while on the mountains. Mission accomplished.

This fellow here is Don Pelayo, el rey (the king) de Asturias during the invasion of los musulmanes in the early 700’s (and that’s me in front of him). Pelayo and his men took advantage of their knowledge of the territory, and attacked from above. With this victory, he is known as the spark that initiated the Spanish Reconquista de la Peninsula Ibérica. Pelayo is the pride and joy of Asturias, and his face is all over the place - kind of like Cervantes in Alcalá.

This particular pueblito (little town) is home to 48 people. Los Picos are a pretty well-visited tourist attraction, but only really for those within the country. The mountains are some of the most beautiful sights that you will ever see.

Legend follows that if you drink from this fountain, you will be married withing the next year. Some girls from my program dared to take a few sips - I’ll be sure to report back with their marital statuses accordingly, haha. These next few are from Ribadesella, a small beach town known for fishing.

Here’s a cove we came across with some people from my group as a scale. It was HUGE.

On Sunday we made our final stop in the city of Gijón. Similar to Oviedo, it also had a modern and antiguo (older) side. We first went on a tour through the city, and afterward hit up the beaches - great way to end the weekend.

In the 1700’s, this above view was used to spot whales. It’s now a park, with some nice trails. In the distance, you can see some sails. (See what I did there?)

Finally, I leave you with this picture of what I believe to be the city of Gijón’s country club, overlooking the beach. One day, I will belong. Hasta luego!