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4 posts from January 2012


Danny Garcia (University of Wisconsin-Madison)-CIEE ALCALÁ SPRING 2012: STORKS.

     Danny Garcia

    DANNY GARCIA  (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

    While walking around the university and other older parts of Alcalá de Henares, you have most likely noticed the large birds that make their nests on top of the buildings.  These birds are White Storks, and Alcalá is well known for having a large stork population.  The city, due to the moderate climate, necessary amount of food, and large quantities of nesting material, is a perfect breeding ground for the white stork.

Danny 1

            Currently, there are about 90 pairs of storks in the area (storks are monogamous).  Alcalá is so perfect that many of them stay in the city for most of the year rather than migrate to Africa, which is what of the birds in Europe do.  However, this wasn’t always the case.  In the mid-80s there were only 11 pairs.


Danny 2

            Luckily, the population recovered, and the historic district of Alcalá remains as dangerous a place as ever to park your car.

  Danny 3

 DANNY GARCIA  (University of Wisconsin-Madison)



            Mientras paseas cerca de la universidad y otras partes antiguas de Alcalá de Henares, es probable que hayas observado unas aves grandes que construyen sus nidos encima de los edificios.  Estas aves son cigüeñas blancas, y Alcalá es conocida porque tiene una población grande de cigüeñas.  La ciudad, porque el clima es moderado, tiene la cantidad necesaria de comida y cantidades grandes de material por sus nidos, es perfecta para la cigüeña blanca.


            Hoy, hay aproximadamente 90 parejas de cigüeñas en el área (las cigüeñas son monógamas).  Alcalá es tan perfecta que muchas permanecen en la ciudad durante una parte larga del año en vez de emigrar a África, como muchas aves en Europa.  Pero, esto no siempre fue así.  A mitad de los años 80 solo había 11 parejas.


            Por suerte, la población se recuperó y por eso el distrito histórico de Alcalá todavía es un lugar peligroso para aparcar tu coche por ellas y lo que puede caer del cielo…




  Foto de Andrei

  Catalonia Is Not Spain

 A sign at a match between Real Madrid and Barça: Catalonia is not Spain/Un letrero a un partido de fútbol entre Real Madrid y Barça: Cataluña no es España

Wednesday, January 25 is the second match of the King’s Cup between rival teams Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. For the Catalonians, there are a lot of politics involved in these matches, because it represents their struggle against the Castilians (from who’s language we get modern Spanish). According to my host mother, Real Madrid was the team that represented the Franco regime, and Franco treated the Catalonians poorly during his rule. Therefore, for Barça to win against Real Madrid represents the Catalonians regaining or retaining their autonomy and sovereignty. I have heard complaints, even from Barça fans like myself, that there are too much politics involved with these matches. For some, it’s just a soccer game. However, placing one’s anger and frustrations in a soccer game causes less problems than do organizations like ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna – Basque Homeland and Freedom), the terrorist organization from the Basque Country, another region and people marginalized by the Franco regime. While soccer matches between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona are just that, soccer matches, it is interesting to note how politics between the regions in Spain manifest themselves. For some, the manifestation is violent. For others, it is competitive but peaceful. As a Barça fan, I look forward to a win on Wednesday. In the meantime, I hope those members of organizations like ETA will reconsider how they handle their situations.



Amidst all the politics, there is still time for friendly competition/Entre la política todavía hay competición amistosa

Carles Puyol is Barça's team captain and is Catalonian/Carles Puyol es el capitán del equipo Barça y es catalán

Miércoles, el 25 de enero de 2012 es el segundo partido de la Copa del Rey entre los equipos rivales Real Madrid y FC Barcelona. Para los catalanes, hay mucha política involucrada en estos partidos, porque representan el conflicto entre los catalanes y los castellanos (de cuya lengua viene el español moderno). Según la señora con quien vivo, Real Madrid era el equipo que representaba el régimen de Franco, y Franco maltrataba a los catalanes a lo largo de aquella época. Entonces, para Barça ganar un partido contra Real Madrid representaría una recuperación o retenimiento de la autonomía y soberanía catalana. He escuchado quejas de algunos aficionados de Barça, los que no les gusta la política se pone en partidos de fútbol entre Real Madrid y Barça. Para ellos, es solamente un partido de fútbol. No obstante, poner su enojo y frustración en un partido de fútbol es más pacífico que la realización de las frustraciones de organizaciones como ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna – País Vasco y Libertad), una organización terrorista del País Vasco, otra región de gente marginada por el régimen de Franco. Para mí, los partidos de fútbol entre Real Madrid y Barça son así, partidos de fútbol, pero es interesante investigar las manifestaciones de la política entre las regiones de España. Para algunos, se manifiestan sus frustraciones en maneras violentas. Para otros, hay competición pero está pacífica. Soy aficionado de Barça y por eso, espero que gane este miércoles. Mientras tanto, espero que los miembros de organizaciones como ETA reconsideren como manejan sus situaciones.

Winning gol

The winning goal from last week's match/El gol que terminó el partido de la semana pasada



First days in CIEE Alcalá-Spring 2012

The Spring 2012 program began with the arrival of the students on January 9th and there we were to receive them in Madrid-Barajas international airport, Cristina Blanco (Resident director) y Fausto Zamora (cultural professor on CIEE trips and tutor at weekly sessions). This semester I will not have assistant.

 Several students were already waiting for us calmly in the cafeteria and around terminal 1, tired and anxious for a good shower, food that wasn’t from a plastic container like on the plane, and of course, to sleep. 


The first day in Hotel Campanile ( was to sleep, rest up and talk with their family and friends from the US to tell them that they had arrived. We ate in a restaurant about 100 


And the moment to meet the families finally arrived on day three. It is always a special day because of the anxiousness of the families, even though they have many years of experience, and even of the CIEE Staff to see if we’ve done a good job housing each of the students with a family, but this time our students were calm for the first time on CIEE history.       


Afterwards we went to the dorms to take the only new student who would be living there. But she wasn’t going to be alone: the two AYP students live there and they’ll be wonderful hosts 


Classes began on Thursday, January 12th in the Benjamin Franklin Institute. The 11th and 12th in the afternoon we had our walking tour to all of the UAH buildings and other places in the middle of Alcalá, like interesting supermarkets, paper shops where they can buy school supplies, libraries, coffee shops with wifi, the train and bus station, etc.


Friday, January 13th – it wasn’t bad luck because in Spain that fateful day is Tuesday the 13th – we went all together to Madrid. The aim of this excursion is to learn how to use the commuter train and the metro, to not be afraid of the big city, in addition to taking a long walk to some of the points of interest in Spain’s capital, eating together, and offering them to see a Spanish movie in the cinema.







CIEE Alcalá Spring 2012 started.

Small group,  big-hearted people!





Orientation issues:


Cell phones time:


Afternoon session:


Spanish dishes, Spanish Dinner:




Residence's Student:



Fausto was explaining:


Buying adaptors:


"A" Students, I mean: Anna, Alex and Andrei in Alcalá.