Authored by:
Sonia Sales

We are happy to share a few highlights of the start of spring 2018 for the Engineering and Society program in Madrid. Participants have started their classes at the host university, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid after a few days of orientation events, review of health and safety, housing accommodation, cultural agenda and series of walking tours for an introduction into Madrid city life and the host campus. Orientation ES Homestay or shared apartmentES Carlos III

Day Trip East of Madrid: Alcalá de Henares

On a Saturday morning, CIEE staff met students at the Atocha train station in Madrid and took the train to the medieval city of Alcalá de Henares, east of Madrid province. It was a sunny day in January so it made the guided outdoor walking tour quite enjoyable with stops that highlighted the literary, religious and colonial legacy of Spain through the ages: We visited the birth house museum of Miguel de Cervantes and learned about the context of the period in which he wrote Don Quijote. Further down the cobblestone road students tried delicacies from a well-renowned pastry shop run by local women and discussed the role of women who commit to traditional roles, including the nunnery at the still existing convent in the city. The group also entered and evaluated the 15th-century university campus and its stunning renaissance and silver plated architecture. Alcala day trip

Health and Safety  Workshop: “Gender and Bystander in Madrid”

In the context of the “Me Too” movement, several students expressed an interest in learning more about sexual harassment and gender relations in Spain. During orientation, students attended a two-hour session at the Global Institute on cultural tips, gender, and bystander intervention. CIEE staff placed special emphasis on giving consent and guided role plays with the participation of Spanish students. CIEE students learned specific vocabulary and appropriate phrases in Spanish to help in social situations. CIEE staff reviewed similarities and differences in body language, such a touch, physical space, etc.

This semester there are several LGTBQ+ participants in Madrid. The group discussed the health and safety of transgender and gay students who want to meet and socialize in Madrid. What does it mean when someone offers to buy you a drink? Is that a common cultural behavior or not?  The session ended with a reminder that students should be intentional about their conduct when meeting others and encourage each other to maintain self-awareness.  The session was not about embedding any scare tactics about the local culture, but fostering an open communication with each other through a buddy network that includes the Spanish peers, CIEE staff, host families, and other CIEE students. CIEE staff also shared local resources. ES workship genderCooking class

One popular activity each semester is the gathering for some good food. In this activity, students met at the Global Institute and then took public transport to the east of the city.  Participants joined a local chef in preparing some Spanish dishes, such as paella, in a kitchen environment. The interactive class includes a review of ingredient vocabulary, methods of traditional cooking, reading out recipes in Spanish, repeating pronunciation of Spanish words and learning some basic cooking skills. Students in shared apartments can use these ingredients to make food dishes for themselves during the week with others in their accommodation. ES cooking

Exploring Madrid’s barrios: an afternoon in hip Chueca

CIEE student helpers organized a walking tour of Chueca, one of Madrid’s hippest neighborhood. Surrounding Plaza Chueca and near the popular San Antón market, this trendy barrio is just minutes walking from the CIEE Global Institute and a short walk to the most sought-after museums, tapas bars, cultural hotspots and vibrant LGTBQ+ scene. The guided tour started at the Gran Via, in front of the emblematic Schweppes building, and ended at a popular tapas bar.

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