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5 posts from June 2012


Excursion to Asturias-CIEE Alcalá- Summer 2012 (session I)

 On June 15, 16 and17 the CIEE group visited a distinct northern region of Spain, Asturias, a place many Spaniards call “La España Verde” (Green Spain) because of it´s extensive green plant life. The group travelled in a private bus to reach our first stop: The city of Oviedo. Travelling in a private coach allowed for more comfort as students could sleep, listen to music and eat picnic lunches their host families had prepared. It also had a very convenient washroom.

 Autobús Alonso

Elizabeth y el wc


 We arrived at the capital of Asturias, Oviedo, around 3 p.m. to start a city walking tour during which the group went from sculpture to sculpture (a lot them representing traditional professions linked to Oviedo). The city has over 200 such sculptures distributed around its city streets. In addition, the pristine character of Oviedo was evident during the tour since it has been declared Spain´s cleanest city.



Afterwards we walked up a small hill inside the city boundaries where our students could appreciate a full panoramic view of the exuberant natural resources of the surrounding area.



From the hilltop in Oviedo we went to a small mountain village, Cangas de Onís, and stayed at Hotel Los Lagos. Students had a free evening to explore and try Asturian cider, a local bean stew called “fabada” and rice pudding.




The next morning´s activity turned out to be our excursion highlight: A canoe trip on the river Sella. It was a lot of fun and for many it was also a new and exciting experience, especially for a few women who temporarily stressed when they unexpectedly fell out of their canoes. Everyone had a life jacket as a safety measure during the four-hour rowing journey, which included some pit stops at some river banks along the Sella. It was a pity there was no sun.


Canoa 3

 Ariel y Kelcey

Canoa 4


Afterwards the group returned to the hotel for a siesta and prepare for the town´s free outdoor musical festival which was held from 11:30 pm until 6:30 am on the plaza in front of the hotel. The next morning with some more tired than others, we left Cangas de Onís. We travelled to the historic port city of Gijón and its expansive sandy beaches and where our tour guide, Professor Fausto Zamora, provided us with cultural information.

 Concierto 4

Concierto 3


Playa 1

After e

Playa 3
ating lunch and feeling quite exhausted, we started our journey back to Alcalá; however, we arrived home late due to a large traffic jam on the highway outside of Madrid. This end of journey road experience did not beat out our wonderful time in Asturias.



"Spanish for Public Health Professionals" CIEE Alcalá

A popular course this session is “Spanish for future health professionals” which is for students who plan to be doctors, nurses, medical assistants, paramedics, EMTs, administrators and who need to use Spanish in their workplace. Last year, the Universidad de Alcalá- Instituto Benjamin Franklin signed an agreement with Alcalá´s medical center, Hospital Universitario Principe Asturias,  which allows U.S. college students to do internships as final year medical residents.  One of the hospital requirements is that American students are majors in pre-medicine, chemistry, biology, physiology, nursing, physical therapy or other medical sciences. Although the lab fee and hospital coordination makes the class tuition more expensive than regular Institute classes, the CIEE program did not charge for the additional internship expenses.


The course has a practical approach, which includes learning medical terminology, understanding the most commonly used grammatical structures and learning cultural aspects which every health care professional should know.  CIEE students visited the hospital Principe de Asturias in Alcalá during the second week of classes, accompanied by their course Professor Dr. Mar Martín, Institute Coordinator Professor Rosi García Borroso and the CIEE Resident Director, Cristina Blanco.




According to CIEE student Paula Gomez from the University of Iowa, “This first visit to the hospital was great because we got to see the many aspects of running a public medical center. I used to work in a daycare center in Iowa and now I get to see how doctors and nurses work with children here in Spain. My individual practical experience at the hospital is in the neonatal section. I am observing first hand how the medical staff works with babies. It´s a wonderful experience!”



During the five hour visit CIEE students were joined by Dr. Gomez Carrasco, a pediatrician and professor at the Universidad de Alcalá, while also meeting with other hospital staff  that explained and showed the different hospital sections. For example, students entered the operating room and the hospital kitchen to get a firsthand look. In addition, the class visited and learned about the infrastructure of the emergency services, which is known as one the best services throughout the Madrid region, and completed a walk through with commentary of the baby delivery rooms.


Another CIEE student, Scott Symonds from Williams College has been fascinated by another aspect he learned during the hospital visit: “As a foreigner, I am allowed to donate blood here in Spain. All I have to do is bring my passport and show that I weigh over 50 kilos. In the US, I have worked with emergency ambulance services and there are a lot of limitations which do not seem to apply here in Spain.” 


The course is taught by professor Mar Martín (PhD in Biology and MA in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language), who guides her students to communicate effectively in a medical environment. Class participants learn and practice the differences between medical terminology in Latin American countries and in Spain. Students also learn intercultural skills outside the classroom through regular visits to local medical facilities.


Dr. Martin is a well respected faculty member who previously worked at the University of Illinois in Chicago, Columbia College and the Instituto Cervantes. Her main research area is teaching Spanish for heritage learners and medical professionals. In her free time, she sings in the Universidad de Alcalá choir.




“Studying the Old and Living the New at the Universidad de Alcalá”- CIEE Alcalá Summer 2012

CIEE participants have direct access to medieval and Golden Age heritage while enjoying the technological benefits of modern living. Former religious order´s quarters are now high-tech computer rooms at the Instituto Franklin -- where the majority of classes are held and is also the CIEE office location. During orientation all CIEE students learned how to access password-coded internet, printer, etc.




In the picture below is CIEE team member, Fausto Zamora, explaining the computer room facilities to HuyenThi Le from University of Colorado-Boulder, Brooks Owens Jr. from Wofford College, Rachael Talentowski and Paula Gomez, who are both from University of Iowa.


The summer program courses have been designed in collaboration with the Universidad de Alcalá. All coursework is conducted in Spanish. Readings are typically assigned in class and professors do not require high-priced book purchases as in common in most U.S. colleges. In fact, students purchase the necessary reading materials from the University´s photocopy center where faculty leave assigned materials. Supplementary and additional reading can be found in the six libraries of the University.

  Summer 1 Student Lounge UAH

CIEE students in this session take their breaks in between classes and can relax in the student lounge located inside the old monastery structures while enjoying some “contemporary” benefits such as drink and food vending machines. In this picture are current session students, Joanne Amaya and Rachael Talentowski from the University of Iowa.

  Summer 1 Jardin UAH 1B

Other CIEE students prefer to get some fresh air by sitting on the many benches with classmates in the gardens that surround the old campus buildings where they have class. In this outdoor picture are Corey Randall from Colorado State College, Jessica Snitko from Hope College, Elizabeth Molleston from Indiana University and Scott Symonds from Williams College.

  Cafeteria UAH


There is also a student cafeteria with an outdoor terrace next to the classrooms where CIEE students can mingle with Spanish university students, get a café con leche and eat many types of pastries. Kelsey Stayer, a Spanish and Biology major from University of Pittsburgh, likes to study and do her home work at the cafeteria´s outdoor terrace.

Summer 1 Cafeteria Kelsey Stayer


Science and Engineering Students Accessing Alcalá "culture lab". CIEE Alcalá Summer 2012 (session I)

Science Majors and Engineering Students Accessing the Alcalá “culture lab”: Summer 2012, Session 1 An unusual high number of Science majors in Engineering, Biology, Nursing and Pre-Medicine have hung up their white lab coats and are now focused on language and culture in the CIEE summer session of Alcalá. One of the main reasons for selecting this program is seeking out an academic option in the summer, especially when special requirements for science majors make it a challenge to study abroad during the fall or spring semester. For many of them CIEE Alcalá is a good combination of rigor and access to Spanish culture.

 Sarah Shires and Statue


 Integrative Physiology and Science major Sarah Shires, from University of Iowa, who is posing with a statue of Don Quijote, is taking this summer opportunity to explore Spanish culture. Sarah is planning to go to medical school upon graduation and during this first session in Alcalá Sarah is doing course work in Spanish Art History and Spanish-English Translation. Sarah says: “I love solving structural problems and in my Translation class I feel I am constantly solving a scientific puzzle.”

  Corey in Alcala

  Electric outlet

One of the engineering students this summer, Corey Randall from Colorado State University, who is excited about residing within the medieval heritage of Alcalá, has summarized his experience as follows: “One of the first things I noticed in my home stay was the different electrical outlet: Strange yet modern.” “This started me thinking of many questions and how to ask them in Spanish. I wanted to expose myself to speaking the language. CIEE Alcalá is one of the few programs in Spain with a full eight-week program that allows for both cultural immersion and language learning. I wanted this experience to be rewarding because I did not have this type opportunity during the rest of my academic year. I have to be in lab rooms and completing research in biological and chemical engineering and now I can focus on Spanish culture.” Corey is taking Spanish Literature and Spanish-English Translation.

 Nikki and Ariel and Bull

Other science students are also looking for a broad cultural experience. Nursing student, Nicole Orth, from St. Catherine University, and Pre-Medicine major, Ariel Winter, from University of Wisconsin-Madison, took a study break and went exploring the city of Toledo for one day.

 Girls in La noche en Blanco

Other science students went to “La noche en blanco,” a free and annual music and arts festival in the historic center of Alcalá on Saturday, June 9th: They were Joanna Amaya from University of Iowa (Biological and Chemical Engineering), Rachael Talentowski from University of Iowa, (Biology), Kelsey Stayer from University of Pittsburgh (Biology), Paula Gomez from University of Iowa (Physiology), Maria Schreiner (Economics) and Elizabeth Molleston fro University of Indiana (Elementary Education). The musical acts included a variety of gospel choirs, flamenco dance groups and several new Spanish rock bands. Many of them performed on the outdoor stages that were especially built on the main square of the Plaza Cervantes, sections of the calle Mayor and other open, lit-up spaces with historic building backdrops in the city center.

 La noche en Blanco escenario La noche en Blanco concert crowd


First News Letter- Summer 2012 (session 1)- CIEE Alcalá

Like we do at the start of every program, we would like to send greetings from CIEE Alcalá Staff members: Cristina Blanco –resident director-, Eero Jesurun – assistant director- 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 students arrived safely, some arrived a day early to rest a bit and recover from jet-lag. We had problems only with one suitcase. But after 24 hours it was at the hotel.


Almost all the students were awake. This group was positive and had an open attitude at their first Spanish day. Five students went dancing on the first night at a nearby pub. At orientation we remind them that CIEE Alcalá is a demanding program. We tell them that they have to study and attend class, but will also have opportunities for travel and fun.



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 is always a reason to laugh… and jump in excitement!


Of course, as always, a pivotal moment of the orientation was the students met their host families. Before this, we gave them letters with information about their families. The students laugh at photos of families. The Spanish always pose very serious in the pictures.




On Saturday June 2nd we went to Madrid down town.

We walked a lot, learned to take the subway, ate in a typical Spanish restaurant and we went to the movie theatre. The film was “Miel de Naranjas”

 We finished at 18:30h.


Then, the students decided what they wanted to do and when to return to Alcalá by themselves. Participants with questions phoned us to catch the train later, but all arrived safely at home. SUMMER 2012 (I) IS ON THEIR WAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!