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Educational Services Abroad


Liberal Arts and Business Fundamentals Barcelona Program

The UT|GO Barcelona Program gives Liberal Arts students the opportunity to learn about business fundamentals through a customized course taught by local faculty at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) and to take courses at the International Summer School at the UPF. Throughout the program, students improve their Spanish language skills and learn local customs by living with host families. They enjoy the Catalan cuisine and go out on weekly adventures guided by local students who are our ESA Mentors. This is a fantastic program that teaches students about Spanish and Catalan cultures while studying at a top European University.



Traditions for celebrating a Spanish New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is a big event in every part of the world and each region has its own traditions that make it unique and special. Of course, in Spain we have our own too. Being with your loved ones Most people celebrate New Year’s Eve at home with their families. However, if they live far away from home, they celebrate New Year’s Eve with their friends. After midnight we toast with champagne and in some homes kids toast with “champín” which is a special champagne with no alcohol. 12 grapes The best-known tradition is eating 12 grapes. The last 12 seconds before the beginning of a new year, we eat 12 grapes following the sound of the bell of the Plaza del Sol (The Sun’s Square), in Madrid. This is the most famous bell in Spain. That’s why lots of people welcome the New Year at the square although most people normally follow the chimes on the TV. [caption id="attachment_1400" align="aligncenter" width="259"]The 12 grapes The 12 grapes[/caption] Starting the New Year with the right foot While eating the 12 grapes some superstitious people keep only their right foot on the floor. That way they will start the first day of the year with good luck. Practicing the 12 chimes In some big cities like Salamanca and, definitely, in Madrid, they verify that their bell works well before New Year’s Eve. Many people gather together to practice eating the 12 grapes in 12 seconds. However it is said that if you eat the 12 grapes before December 31 at midnight it gives you bad luck, so people practice with olives, jelly beans or chocolates. [caption id="attachment_1401" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Conguitos - Spanish version of M&Ms Conguitos - Spanish version of M&Ms[/caption] Eating lentils? Some people eat a teaspoon or a plate of lentils at midnight or on December 31st or January 1st for lunch. This is a symbol of the abundance, prosperity and economy throughout the year. Red underwear Another tradition is to wear red underwear because it will bring you a great year of love. Besides, it’s a day for dressing up because many people go to a cotillón after or before midnight. A cotillón is a party where people dance, eat and have fun all night long. Some people wear masquerades and other special costumes. In fact in many small towns people like to dress up. Fireworks We don’t have a firework show as big as people have in the States or in other places of the world. But we like fireworks too so some people buy them and shoot them off. Churros January 1st after partying all night long, we eat some churros as breakfast before going to bed. But don’t be too excited, only some breakfast bars and churros kiosks are open because the January 1st is a state holiday and stores are closed. [caption id="attachment_1402" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Churros con Chocolate Churros con Chocolate[/caption] We don’t have the typical American kiss welcoming the New Year but we kiss all our beloved in the cheek to wish them good luck for the coming year.


Volunteering in Sevilla

Hello! My name is Samantha Dinsdale, and I am a junior from the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine, USA. I am a Medical Biology major on the Pre-Medicine track with a minor in Latin American Studies. I decided to study abroad here in Seville, Spain in the Fall 2017 semester, and while fully immersing myself into this beautiful culture, I was given the opportunity to volunteer at a private hospital. I created a curriculum vitae and wrote a motivation letter, both in Spanish, and sent them to Miriam, our program coordinator, to have my information passed along. Upon my arrival, Miriam helped me gain contact with them and schedule an interview. The interviewers were from the International Office of the clinic and were enthusiastic about helping me find a position at the clinic. I first needed to take a test that every employee and volunteer must pass before starting. The test was to ensure my knowledge of the rules and regulations of the clinic, and after the lengthy process I was finally able to begin volunteering. During my time at the clinic, I shadowed urgency and family medicine physicians who were eager to teach me and speak with me in Spanish. I learned how to diagnose and treat patients, the process of obtaining a medical degree in Spain, and how the clinic itself operates. Everyone within the clinic was kind, and I could improve my Spanish by speaking to every fellow employee, the patients, and pharmaceutical representatives. I loved going to the clinic every week to see how medicine in Spain operates in comparison to the United States. I learned a lot from this experience and will carry it with me throughout all my future endeavors.


Most important events in Spain

The Three Kings Parade (January 5-6) Spanish people love Santa Claus but they love even more the Three Wise Men who visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, incense and myrrh. This is a great day for little kids, and not so little. That’s why we have a huge parade with kids throwing candies and other gifts. There is a parade in the main cities and neighborhoods on January 5 and 6. Carnaval (February - flexible date) This festival has a different duration depending on the city. It is an event  in which people dress up (as funny things, characters…) in most places. In Cádiz, people walk around the city to hear original songs sung by different groups too and a contest is held in the Falla theater. In the Canary Islands and Badajoz, as well as in some other countries of Latin America, the festival is called “murgas”. There is another type of Carnaval in Las Palmas (a huge one) in which they choose the Queen of the Carnival and there is a drag contest too . Semana Santa (or Holy Week) (March - flexible date) There is not an exact day for the beginning of Holy Week or Semana Santa: it depends on the moon. Semana Santa begins the first Sunday of March when there’s a full moon. It is a huge event for lots of Spanish people but it might change depending on the region. Find everything you need to know in the post  and in “Semana santa: Seville’s biggest holidays”:

  Las Fallas de Valencia (March 15-19) Artists work really hard on building colossal statues made of paper, cardboard, wood or cork. From the 15th to the 19th of March, there are lots of people in the streets wearing traditional costumes, eating sweets, and there are sculptures that can be visited outside and inside. Las Fallas starts with the “Crida” the last Sunday of February in which the Fallera Mayor (the ambassador of this festivity) calls all the population of the city. A contest is held the last day of the festivity and then all of the artwork is burned at night. You can also find the "mascletàs" that are held from at 2PM and consist of a huge pyrotechnic show. The fire is the essence of the party, it purifies the vices and evils of society and a new cycle begins. It is a renewal from the ashes, the beginning of spring. pic3 (1) Feria de Sevilla (April-May - Flexible) We have a lot of ferias (fairs) in Spain and in different dates. However, the one in Sevilla is the main reference. Here you have everything you need to know about the Feria of Sevilla: “Vocabulary to enjoy the Feria de Abril as a true sevillano”
“A bailar a bailar alegre sevillanas”
  Fiesta de las Cruces (May - Flexible date depending on the city/village) The “Cruces de mayo” (May Crosses) is a Christian event takes place in May because it is the Virgin and the flower’s month. Depending on the city, it is celebrated during the first week of May, every weekend or both. Córdoba is really famous for its “Cruces de mayo” because every square is fully decorated with flowers and a cross in the middle (decorated with flowers too). Some people wear flamenco dresses in some villages. Córdoba also holds contests for the best decorated square. La noche de San Juan (June 23) It’s summer! and in many places of the world we celebrate this festivity. Many Spaniards spend the night at the beach, with huge bonfires and fireworks. It welcomes the summer and originally it was celebrated on the 21th, but because of St. John the Baptist we celebrate it on the 23th. pic9 San Fermín (July 7) It starts with the “chupinazo” from the balcony of the City Hall of Pamplona on July 6 at noon and it ends at 12 AM on July 15 with the song “Pobre de mí...” (Poor me), which is a farewell song. One of the most famous activities of the Sanfermines is the “encierro”, which consists of running through a route of 849 meters in front of the bulls to lead the bulls into the bullring. Each “encierro” normally lasts an average of 3 minutes. After that, all day long consists of eating and having fun with friends. There are open air music and dance. Fun fact: the famous film “Knight and Day” (starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz) placed this event in Sevilla and Cádiz. However the event takes place in Pamplona (Navarra) only. La Tomatina (August flexible) La Tomatina takes place in the Valencian municipality of Buñol (Valencia). It is always celebrated on the last Wednesday of August. The participants throw tons and tons of tomatoes (that are not edibles) at each other. La Mercè (September 24) La Mercè is the one of the biggest festivity in Barcelona. It is celebrated in honor of La Virgen de la Merced (Mercy’s Virgin). There are parades, a meeting of giants from all over Catalonia, a contest of castells (human towers) and Sardana dancing (typical dance from Catalonia). There is also a wine fair, the correfoc (people running and dancing with fireworks wearing demon’s costumes), a marathon and the "Piromusical" (fireworks and lights accompanied with music all over the Montjuïc). Día de la Hispanidad - Fiesta Nacional de España (October 12) This is the national day of Spain. The celebration traditionally includes a military parade attended by the King, along with the Royal Family, the President of the Government and other high representatives of all the powers of the State. October 12 is celebrated in Zaragoza too with Fiesta del Pilar (local festivity). pic6 Día de todos los santos (November 1) This day (All Saints’ Day) many people visit the graves of their deceased and they pray for those who left. We do the same thing the 2nd November and it is called the “Deceased’s day”. On the other hand, the night of Halloween is celebrated on Oct. 31 (1 night only) and is more and more popular in Spain. The Constitution Day (December 6) This is the day that our constitution was signed after several years of dictatorship and a process of transition. Two days after this day, we celebrate the day of the Immaculate Conception. Although Catholic in its origins, this festivity remains as one of the official State holidays and there are events in some cities like Sevilla. In this city the Tunos go around the city singing and glorifying the Virgin.


What you need to know about Spanish filmography

Traditionally the Spanish movies had the Spanish folklore as the main theme. So when we search for ancient films we find stories based on a little boy or girl who sings and dances flamenco. By watching old Spanish movies, you perfectly feel how that time was and how my grandparents felt. [caption id="attachment_1370" align="aligncenter" width="197"]Marisol Marisol[/caption] But Spanish filmography has evolved and it has become more international. It is clearly shown in movies like “Regression” by Alejandro Amenábar, “El laberinto del fauno” by Guillermo del Toro, or “Volver” by Pedro Almodovar. Maybe those names are familiar to you because some of our directors are internationally known. You can also enjoy the international Spanish movies in your own language like “Lo imposible” by Juan Antonio Bayona, or even improve your Spanish listening skills by watching films such as “Grupo 7” by Alberto Rodríguez, a good example for practising the Andalusian accent. [caption id="attachment_1371" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Lo Imposible, by J. A. Bayona Lo Imposible, by J. A. Bayona[/caption] However, Spanish directors haven’t abandoned the traditional part. We love our culture and our differences too. But we love mocking ourselves even more. That’s why we enjoy movies such as “Ocho apellidos vascos” by Emilio Martínez-Lázaro (this one is the highest-grossing movie of all time in Spain) or “Señor, dame paciencia” by Álvaro Díaz Lorenzo. As you might know, Spanish people have diverse ways of thinking, diverse traditions and (it is said too) different personalities depending on each region and these two films are inspired in Spanish stereotypes taking it to the extreme. [caption id="attachment_1372" align="aligncenter" width="300"]8 Apellidos Vascos by Emilio Martinez-Lázaro 8 Apellidos Vascos by Emilio Martinez-Lázaro[/caption] Spanish TV series have become great too. They are equally divided into: one third of thrillers (“Mar de plástico”), one third of comedy (“La que se avecina”), and one third based on true stories of the Spanish Civil War (“Amar en tiempos revueltos”) or Spanish history, even though they might add some fictional elements (“El ministerio del tiempo”). Millennials, like me, have learnt a lot watching these historical series with their grandparents, who enjoy telling their anecdotes about those times. [caption id="attachment_1373" align="aligncenter" width="300"]La que se avecina La que se avecina[/caption] You can practice your Spanish and learn more about our culture, history and sense of humor watching some of these TV series: La casa de papel, Tiempos de Guerra, Ella es tu padre, Los Serrano, La española inglesa, Lo que escondían sus ojos, El internado… [caption id="attachment_1372" align="aligncenter" width="300"]La española inglesa La española inglesa[/caption] I encourage you to choose one and start watching it in spanish (with subtitles if you need it) and, if you are brave enough, turn on the TV or join your host family and watch it completely in Spanish…Why not?


Spanish Music

When we talk about Spanish music the first word that comes to our mind is “flamenco”. Spanish music is really famous, especially flamenco, an art that mixes music and dance originated in southern Spain. Flamenco has evolved and transformed over the time to incorporate modern music sounds from rock, pop and blues. Some famous Spanish flamenco artists include Raimundo Amador, Ketama and Rosario Flores among others. In Flamenco, “el cante flamenco andaluz” retains an emotional lament while the “cante flamenco Gitano” preserves a folkloric style. Both incorporate expressive hand-clapping accompanied by the fervent clatter of dancers’ feet.  Some photos and a video about flamenco are included below. flamenco flamencooo What about modern Spanish music? There are plenty of popular Spanish songs and international Spanish artists like Joaquin Sabina, David Bisbal, Alejandro Sanz and Julio Iglesias that fill the radio with Latin rhythms and Spanish pop music. Some songs of this artists are “19 días y 500 noches”, “Ave María”, “Corazón partío” and “Bamboleo”. Even Spanish hip-hop has found its place in the music industry with artists like La Mala Rodríguez with songs like”Nanai”. But not only flamenco is listened here. If you go to any pub or disco here in Sevilla, you will see that most of the songs are reggaeton, like “Cuéntale”, “Rey de la tarima” or “Hula Hoop”. Young people love reggaeton music because it’s easier to dance! Some Latin artists listened here are Daddy Yankee, Luis Fonsi, Romeo Santos and Maluma. All types of music can be popular in Spain because there are all types of people living there. American artists are also listened in Spain; some of them are Miley Cyrus, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. And you, what type of music you have listened to in Spain do you like the most?



¡Hola de nuevo! Not long ago, you were arriving at the airport with all your luggage, trying to get through your jetlag, full of doubts and mumbling an ‘hola’. How were you going to survive your time in Spain? Well, time does actually fly, and now you can laugh at all the insecurities you had when you first arrived in the country. Now you probably know more places in the city than many locals, you have traveled around Europe (and even Africa), you can speak Spanish without going blank and you have boosted your confidence. To sum up, YOU have changed and that is fantastic. photo 1 (post 3) We are sure that you are looking forward to seeing your family and friends back home, but at the same time you will certainly miss this whole experience. How will you get back to your ‘normal’ life? We have all been there before and we know that it can be hard sometimes. ‘Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened’ is a quote to follow during this transition but, what it is more important, try bringing everything you have learnt to your daily life back home. What about helping exchange students arriving to or departing from your home university? Why not engaging in some youth initiatives? And a masters overseas? How about getting a job where you get to practice your Spanish? Your experience abroad opens the door for many other experiences that are about to come. Your time here is not the end but the beginning of many other things! So, embrace it and keep the sparkle! See you soon here, back home or in another corner of the world! photo 2 (post 3)  


Vocabulary to enjoy the Feria de Abril as a true sevillano

¡Hola a todos! I hope that you had a fantastic Semana Santa and that you are looking forward to our other great spring festivity: the Feria de Abril (April’s Fair)! This year, the Feria will start on April 30th at 00:00h and it will last for a week. Interestingly, it was supposed to start at that time on May 1st but, since it was going to mean that the April’s Fair was not going to be celebrated in April, the town hall organized a referendum so people could vote if they wanted it to start a day earlier. As usual, we want you to enjoy our traditions as a true sevillano. You have already learnt how to master the art of dancing sevillanas in our flamenco workshop and now what you need to know is this basic vocabulary related to the Feria de Abril:

  • Alumbrao: it is the official start of the Feria and the moment when all the lights (including the portada and the farolillos) are switched on. It normally takes place on a Tuesday at 00:00 h but this year, as mentioned above, it will take place on Sunday 30th.
  • Cacharritos: this is how we call the amusement rides of the Feria de Abril. They are located along the Calle del Infierno and it is the main incentive for children to come to the Feria. In addition, there are amusement rides for adults, such as the barca vikinga (Viking boat), rollercoasters, canguros (kangaroos…not the animal!), and the Ferris wheels.
  • Calle del Infierno: it literally means ‘Hell Street’ and it is where the amusement park of the Feria de Abril is. This part is separated from the casetas and you will easily find it as you will be able to see the amusement rides especially the Ferris ride from afar.
  • Casetas: they are the marquee tents where people meet to eat, drink and dance. Some of them are public but most of them are private. If you want  to get into a private one, you need to know someone who is a socio (member) of that caseta and can get you in.
[caption id="attachment_1354" align="aligncenter" width="225"]Casetas y farolillos Casetas y farolillos[/caption]
  • Farolillos: they are the little and colorful lanterns located all around the Real de la Feria and switched on during the alumbrao. They are an authentic landmark of the Feria.
  • Pescaíto: it is the night when the Feria officially starts. People gather in the casetas with their friends and family to eat fried fish for dinner before going to see the alumbrao.
  • Portada: it is the main entrance to the the Feria de Abril and its lightning (alumbrao) during la noche del pescaíto marks the beginning of the Feria. Each year, it has a different design and in 2017 it commemorates the 25th anniversary of the celebration of the Universal Exposition of Seville (Expo ’92). The portada is the main meeting point for sevillanos, although meeting someone there is difficult because it is always crowded.
[caption id="attachment_1355" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Portada de la Feria Portada de la Feria[/caption]
  • Real de la feria: it is the enclosure where the Feria de Abril is located. It is divided into two parts: the part where the casetas are and the part where the cacharritos are.
  • Traje de flamenca: it is the traditional dress worn by women at the Feria. It is a slim-fit dress that normally has some kind of print, such as polka-dots or flowers. Women combine them with colorful mantoncillos (shawls), earrings and brooches. Additionally, they wear flowers in their hair.
[caption id="attachment_1356" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Traje de flamenca Traje de flamenca[/caption] You can now go to the Feria de Abril and enjoy it as a true sevillano!


Experiencing Semana Santa with your 5 senses

¡Hola de nuevo! After 3 months in Spain (yes, time does fly) you are more than ready to experience one of our biggest festivities: Semana Santa (Holy Week). As some of you have already realised, Semana Santa can be quite confusing and even daunting. There is a lot going on at the same time, and that is why we want to help you understand it and make the most of it. Although Semana Santa has a strong religious background (as a commemoration of the Passion of Jesus), it is also a cultural and social event that can be enjoyed by everyone. To understand it better, we recommend you this comprehensive post from a former mentor: Sight: procesiones, pasos and nazarenos If you are in the city center during Semana Santa, you will definitely see at least one of the over 50 processions. They are religious statues representing the Passion of Jesus on enormous pasos (floats) carried around the streets by costaleros (bearers) and accompanied by hundreds (or even thousands) of nazarenos (penitents) who hold candles. The itinerary of these processions (from their home churches to the Cathedral and back) can easily be found on the Internet and the local newspapers. Photo 1   Hearing: bandas, marchas and saetas (and silence) Some processions are silent, while others are accompanied by a choir or chapel music, and a lot of them feature a band (banda) following the float and playing hymns (marchas). Along the itinerary, talented individuals may express their feelings towards the procession by singing a religious, flamenco-style song called saeta, which is often sung from a balcony. Silence is also a key element at Semana Santa, since it is a way of showing respect and appreciation for the processions. Everyone must remain silent when the float arrives and, in some particularly grave processions, during the whole time. How to identify if that is the case? If the penitents are dressed in black, it can be a sign, but the best idea is looking around and behaving like the Sevillanos. Photo 2 Smell: incense and flowers The strong smell of incense, an aromatic essence meant to purify, accompanies every procession. It is carried by young boys (or girls) called monaguillos who spread it in front of the pasos (floats) during the whole itinerary. Floats are also decorated with fresh flowers in gracious bouquets. Touch:  crowds and no touching The city center can get quite crowded during Semana Santa, since everyone wants to see the pasos on the first row and some areas are of restricted access. Try to avoid big crowds and, if you get trapped in one (bulla), be patient and collaborative. Another important thing is that you shouldn’t touch the floats. Although some people do it, it can damage the float decoration and thus it is not a good idea. Taste: torrijas and pestiños As you know from previous posts, in Spain we love eating, and Easter is no exception. Torrijas and pestiños are always present at our homes during these days. Torrijas, like French toasts, are prepared with honey, eggs and wine. Each family has its own recipe (claimed of course to be the best). On the contrary, pestiños are made of flour, but are also covered in honey.   [caption id="attachment_1348" align="aligncenter" width="300"]These torrijas were made by my grandma (and, of course, they are the best) These torrijas were made by my grandma (and, of course, they are the best)[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_1349" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Pestiños made by cloistered nuns Pestiños made by cloistered nuns[/caption] Now you know a little bit more about Semana Santa, but we encourage you to go a see pasos and, whether you are a religious person or not, to embrace this very different experience.  


The perks of being an exchange student

¡Hola a todos! We are already halfway through the semester and most of you are now working on your midterm exams. For this reason, we thought that this would be the perfect moment to cheer you up by reminding you about some of the reasons why studying abroad is awesome!

  1. Learning a foreign language. Whether you like languages or not, being able to speak a language other than English is a great advantage. While studying abroad, you do not only learn a new language in class but also in real-life situations! This means that you get to learn words that you would never learn in a language class, including some slang words that locals use all the time.
  2. Getting to know other cultures. When you are abroad, you come across different traditions and customs that can help you understand how people in other countries think. The best thing is that, if you like them, you can incorporate them to your daily life when you come back home!
  1. Making new friends. Being abroad and speaking other languages means that you do not only meet other Americans, but also international students and local people. And having friends all around the world is the best excuse to travel.
  1. Getting out of your comfort zone. It is only when you try new things, when you really learn and acquire new skills. Being abroad does not only contribute to your resume, it also helps you to learn more about yourself and to become a more independent and resolute person.
  2. Doing new things every day. One of the best things of studying abroad is being able to answer ‘two hours ago’ or ‘today’ when asked ‘when was the last time you did something for the first time?’. In addition, when you come back home, you will have lots of stories to tell your family and friends.
  1. Appreciating your family and friends even more. Spending a time away from your usual social environment helps you reflect on how much you value them.
Can you think of  more advantages of being an exchange student? Have a fantastic weekend!


WHERE FOOD IS MORE THAN JUST SUSTENANCE (understanding Spain through its food culture)

¡Hola de nuevo! I hope you are all having a fantastic time in Seville. After almost two months here (yes, time flies!) I am sure you are already quite familiar with our gastronomy and words such as tapas or churros are already part of your vocabulary. But our gastronomy is much more than new flavors; it’s a fantastic gate to understand our culture: Expression of our rich cultural heritage In our last post, we talked about Spain’s cultural heritage, and our cuisine is a fantastic way of discovering it! The Romans taught us how to cultivate wheat and vines, which explains why we love bread and wine so much. The Arabs brought to Al-Andalus new ways of cultivating fruit, vegetables and our precious olive oil. They also introduced new products that are now part of our most renowned dishes, for example rice (no paella without it), spinach (have you already tried our famous espinacas con garbanzos?), sugar cane, or citrics (yes, that means our delicious oranges). The Greeks, Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Visigoths also left their mark our gastronomy. Oranges Tapas, a way of living A tapa, which literally means ‘cover’ or ‘lid’, was originally a hunk of bread that was placed over the glass of beverages to keep the flies out. This simple concept evolved to its current meaning, a style of eating. Going for tapas means sociability, cherished moments with your family and friends and informal gatherings in a relaxed atmosphere. If you are going for tapas, you know more or less when you are starting but you have no idea how the day will end (what we call in Andalusia a relío is not unlikely to happen: going for some relaxed tapas and ending up late at night or even early in the morning). Tapas We love food During my study abroad time in Australia, I remember my flatmates telling me ‘You Spaniards talk all the time about food’. And it is quite true, we are very proud of our cuisine and love sharing our family recipes (everyone will tell you how his/her grandma makes the best croquetas/gazpacho/whatsoever). Food is a way of relating to each other, of finding things in common. In other countries food is seen as way of getting nutrients for your body, here it is a ritual that has its times and steps (therefore our very particular meal times). When we cook, we put a lot of time and effort into it and we love a nice and colorful presentation. But the most important thing is enjoying your meal with your family and friends, and creating a shared moment. When food is finished, instead of quickly leaving, we have what we call a sobremesa (literally ‘over the table’): time for chatting and simply enjoying each other’s company. For Spaniards how we eat is as important as what we eat. Tapas restaurant And well, as you can see I could talk about food forever, but it’s better if you go and taste it! See you soon at the ESA picnic!


Spain’s rich cultural heritage

¡Hola a todos! I hope you’re having a fantastic beginning of your spring semester here in Seville. As you might have already noticed, in Spain −especially in the region of Andalusia− there are still traces of all the civilizations that once lived in the peninsula. One of the cultures that had more impact on the south of Spain was the Islamic one. The Iberian Peninsula was almost completely conquered by Moorish Muslim armies from North Africa in the early 8th century, and they remained here until 1492, when the Reconquista was completed and the Catholic Monarchs −Queen Isabella I of Castille and King Ferdinand II of Aragon− expelled the last Muslims living in the sultanate of Granada. All that happened a long time ago but we can still physically see this part of the Spanish history and you, as students of our Spring Program in Seville, have the chance to visit two of the major monuments of that period: the Alcázar in Seville and the Alhambra in Granada. Real Alcázar de Sevilla Located right next to the Seville Cathedral, the Alcázar is a beautiful royal palace that serves as an example of the mudéjar style. It was originally built for the Moorish Muslim kings and it’s still used by the Spanish Royal Family as its official residence in Seville. What’s more, in 2015 it became the set for some episodes of the well-known TV series ‘Game of Thrones’. How many rooms of the Alcázar can you recognize in the first episodes of season 5? [caption id="attachment_1325" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Alcazar de Sevilla Alcazar de Sevilla[/caption] Alhambra de Granada This impressive nazarí palace is located in Granada, the city in which the last Muslims lived before being expelled. Its rooms are richly decorated and its Court of the Lions (in Spanish, patio de los leones) has become one of the landmarks of the city. Apart from these beautiful palaces, the Islamic period also left an indelible imprint on our language. Some everyday words such as almohada (pillow), aceite (oil), aceituna (olive), café (coffee), or naranja (orange) are derived from Arabic! [caption id="attachment_1326" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Alhambra de Granada Alhambra de Granada[/caption]


The new you

[caption id="attachment_1318" align="aligncenter" width="515"]Granada trip, Fall 2016 Granada trip, Fall 2016[/caption] Only a few days left for your new adventure, you are going to live in a different city, miles away from your town. You have to pack all the stuff, because you want everything with you. Now it is time to go to the airport! Just three planes, and here you are. This was you, four months ago. This experience is coming now to an end, and you are not the same person who arrived here, with all your suitcases and saying ‘adiós’ when you meant to say hello. But this was just the beginning. You used your time travelling around Europe (and even África). You learnt a little bit about Andalucía and our culture. You can now impress your family and friends dancing Flamenco, or at least, trying it.  You learnt Spanish, or how to order things in a bar. You were brave riding a camel, because you wanted your souvenir photo. And the most important thing, you have pictures in the places where Game of Thrones was filmed. But let’s be serious. This experience abroad has changed you, a lot. Maybe you are not going to realize of that at the beginning, but as time goes by, you will. You are no longer just a USA citizen, you are now a world citizen. In a few weeks you will remember this like a very happy period of your life, but in a few months, you are going to miss it. You will want to feel this in your body again. This is the emotion of living new things and meeting new people in places where you can’t even imagine. You have to live with that, or… you can take a map, point a place and travel again! I studied abroad in Finland during the 2015-2016 academic year, right before you came to Sevilla, and  I can tell you, this is going to be one of the best things in your life. All the bad memories are going to be eclipsed by all the good you have experienced. Because at the end, you only take the best part and keep it in your heart. And this is why I want to thank you for all this amazing moments, and for letting me relive the experience with you guys in Sevilla!


“Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the waaaaaaay”

Winter is coming, we all know that, didn’t you notice the cold? But so it’s Christmas! These days that we spend with our family and friends. The ones who have behaved good will receive many presents, and those who haven’t… too! Christmas is the time when people show all of their kindness and you can notice these feelings in almost everyone. For those who are living in Spain, and especially in Sevilla, there are some facts you should know that we have not in common with you. For example, to begin with, I think you all know who this famous person is: [caption id="attachment_1312" align="aligncenter" width="214"]Papa Noel Papa Noel[/caption] Yeah! It’s Santa Claus. He is supposed to live in Finland during the year, close to Rovaniemi. Here, though, we call him Papá Noel. It would be like “father Noel”, and he is supposed to come every Christmas Eve, after dinner, to our houses, knock our door and leave a few presents. You may be wondering why did I say a few, and that’s because we don’t get our presents on Christmas day! We wait until almost the end of our holiday period, January 6th, the morning when we all wake up and find many presents mainly in the living room. And who has left all these presents? We believe it’s the Three Wise Men (or in Spanish, Los Reyes Magos). [caption id="attachment_1313" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Reyes Magos Reyes Magos[/caption] Their names are Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar. The last one is supposed to be a person of colour. Most children here go nuts about their arrival during the night of the 5th of January to the 6th. They leave sweets, three glasses of wine, and even water bowls for the thirsty camels! I have been doing it myself for many years… Besides, the Three Wise Men appear in the Nativity scene. In Spain this is an important thing, and you will see that, apart from the Christmas tree, many families put a nativity scene in their houses (mainly in the hall or the living room). These nativity scenes can be tiny ones (with Mary, Joseph and little Jesus) or incredibly big. You’ll see many fans of this tradition, some people even install fountains or an electricity system for all of the houses of the town of Bethlehem, where baby Jesus was born. Another fact you should know is that we don’t have Christmas trees farms. And it’s a pity. Most of us have plastic trees (some of them full of dust because they turn old). But, remember, we have cool nativity scenes! On Christmas holidays, students don’t have classes from around December 20th until January 8th. We celebrate Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) which takes place on December 24th evening, la comida del día de Navidad (big meal at Christmas day), Nochevieja (New Year's Eve) and la Cabalgata de Reyes, that is, a big parade on the evening of January 5th. The Three Wise Men are there (normally they are famous local people in the city, such as the Mayor of the city, dressed up like them) and they toss away many sweets and even give away jamones! I hope you all enjoy these days our traditions - you’ll see fantastic Christmas decoration and many Christmas markets in the city center. Maybe you’ll want to buy the first figures of the nativity scene to start your own in the US!


Why don’t we go there?

[caption id="attachment_1286" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Alameda de Hercules Alameda de Hercules[/caption] Everytime we move into a new city we try to look for a place where we can feel comfortable, free. Some people choose a coffee shop, some others a specific bench in a park. Some others, like me, choose an entire neighbourhood. During your stay in Seville you will see many other places, but for me it is particularly the Alameda where I feel that thing I was talking about before. The Alameda de Hércules is a square in the city center that has never been much famous. However, it has turned into a very interesting place nowadays. Located in the Macarena district, it has become a boheme place where you will find people of all styles and races. You will also notice that is the young people who come here mostly. It was supposed to be a park, but due to the floods that used to happen, it never grew any grass. So you can only see the cobbled floor with little spaces in between where grass was supposed to grow. There are also many benches all around where people come maybe just to talk or maybe to play an instrument. Besides, you can identify the Alameda because of the four columns located in the square: two at the front and two at the rear. These columns are from the roman period and they were brought in their entirety from an excavation close to the Cathedral. You will also recognize it because it is a green area with poplar trees (which translation, Álamo, gives the name to the place) all along the square. The place nowadays is full of pubs all around, with affordable prices and lot of concerts too. There is also a cheap cinema with special offers on Wednesdays. At least once a month they organize some markets with different themes, it could be a normal fair, or a handmade products one, or a secondhand clothing. In wintertime, even though it does not snow in Seville, from late December until February you can go there and do some ice skating or have a hot chocolate! So if you ever happen to be in Seville and have nothing to do, you can always come and see what’s happening that day, I’m sure you won’t regret going!


Food and Spanish Expressions

Which words would come to your mind if I say ‘Spain’? I guess you’d say ‘flamenco’, ‘warm weather’ or ‘kind people’. But did you say food? I hope you obviously did. Most of the time, these stereotypes hold true especially when speaking about food. The words food and Spain are always together in the same sentence. Let’s say Spain without its gastronomy would be the same as the United States without its peanut butter... Jokes aside, food is an essential part of Spain and its culture. And this is the reason why there are tons of Spanish expressions based upon food. We do love bread, so here we go with some bread expressions: bread

  • Ser más bueno que el pan – ‘To be better than bread’
Spanish bread has a good quality and it’s healthy. Therefore, people love bread and eat it a lot. Whenever you decide to eat bread, it’ll be the perfect moment: for breakfast, lunch, merienda (snack in the afternoon), or dinner. Since we love bread, when something or someone is nice or great we say it/he/she is better than bread. English equivalent: ‘to be as good as gold.’
  • Ser pan comido – ‘To be eaten bread’
This expression has its origin in post-war times. Bread, rice, and potatoes were some groceries which were easy to find, but bread was the easiest one to eat. No cook was needed, so when something is really easy it is ‘eaten bread.’ English equivalent: ‘to be a piece of cake.’
  • Más largo que un día sin pan – ‘To be longer than a day without bread’
Can Spanish people imagine a day without bread? Now that you know they eat bread all the time due to its quality and because it is healthy, your answer would be: ‘No, of course not!’ To sum up, a day without bread becomes a really long and tiring day. Other Spanish expressions related to food:
  • Ser más listo que el hambre – ‘To be more swindler than hunger’
We all know that hunger sharpens your intelligence, so if you are swindler than hunger, you are, let’s say, a con artist. English equivalent: ‘to be as sharp as a needle’ or ‘to be razor sharp.’
  • Estar en el ajo – ‘To be in the garlic’
When you are in the garlic, you know what’s going on and you are involved in not a really kind issue. This is related to the unpleasant flavour of this tuber. English equivalent: ‘to be in the know.’ ajo
  • Pedir peras al olmo – ‘To ask the elm tree for pears’
If there is something impossible, that is finding an elm that grows pears. Only ask an elm tree for pears if you want something impossible. Take wood from an elm tree it’s ok, but no pears! English equivalent: ‘you can’t get blood out of a stone.’ olmo peras These are just some expressions related to food that you can hear everyday in Spain. Do you have food expressions in English with a fun story behind? Share them with us or give us English equivalents and let’s put them into practice!


Getting to know more about fall semester’s national holidays

One of the few stereotypes you might have heard about Spain before coming to study abroad to Seville is that people in Spain are always on vacations and never work. This isn’t quite true, although I should say we have 12 paid holiday days, in addition to the legal 22 paid vacation days every worker is allowed to have. Concerning national holidays, you might already know you’re going to have a long weekend (in Spain we call it puente) this week, but what is it about? October 12 is the National Day in Spain, also called Día de la Hispanidad or Fiestas del Pilar. It’s also celebrated in other Hispanic countries, as it’s the day Christopher Columbus (or Cristobal Colón, as we call him in Spanish) set foot on the Americas for the first time. To commemorate this day, the King of Spain raises the Spanish National Flag, followed by a military parade in Madrid. In fact, Zaragoza is the place where a big celebration is made out of it, having into account the Virgen del Pilar (Virgin of the Pillar) is their patron saint. However, in the rest of the country, most people show no excitement about this celebration, and use these holidays to travel, visit the family, or just relax. As well as that, the weekend we’ll spend in Morocco (October 30-November 2) will coincide with another puente (long weekend), since November 1 is the Día de Todos los Santos (All Saints’ Day). This day is just for families to remember their friends and relatives that are already gone. Christian families celebrate this day by going to church and going to the cemetery to put some fresh flowers by their relatives’ graves. In addition to this, before the Día de Todos los Santos we celebrate Halloween, as you could have imagined. Although we didn’t use to celebrate Halloween some years ago, now is getting more and more popular. It isn’t exactly the same as in the States and there are some big differences regarding customs, decoration, parties, cakes, etc. For example, you dress up as a witch or as a vampire to go to a Halloween-themed party and you won’t find houses and buildings decorated with pumpkins or spider’s web. And last but not least, before Christmas Holidays, we have two more national days! December 6 is the Día de la Constitución Española, the day our current constitution was enacted back in 1978, right after the 36-year-long Dictadura franquista (Franco’s dictatorship) got to an end. On the other hand, December 8 is the Día de la Inmaculada Concepción, patron saint of the Spanish Marine Corps or just Infantería Española. Since these two dates are so close to each other, there are usually some long holidays. There is a full agenda of events and shows to celebrate all along this puente in Sevilla too, like the seises, the tuna concerts, etc. If you’re wondering what those things are, the seises are a group of ten children who dance and play music in front of the Cathedral. This event only takes place three times all over the year and it goes a long way back to the XVII century. Regarding the tuna concerts, it’s not about the tuna fish making music, but a tuna in Spanish is a musical group composed by university students. This is all regarding the fall semester’s holidays. If you want to know more about the Spanish and Andalusian holidays during the spring semester, you’ll just have to let us know!


Urban groups in Sevilla

After three weeks in Sevilla, UNE students have had the chance to explore the city and start to understand Sevilla’s culture. When it comes to talking about culture and a new place, the very first things that come to your mind are: history, monuments, the local language, art, or food. But what about locals, their appearance, and their lifestyle? Have you realized not everyone looks the same? Twenty-four hours after their arrival in Sevilla, most of the students had the same opinion about sevillanos: “most people are really stylish”, “they seem to be dressed up all the time”, and - what impact me the most - “we don’t think there are different cultural groups here, everyone looks similar.” Then, it is time to show them some of the several urban groups that can be found in this city full of contrasts. The first are what we call canis. Canis wear gold (or fake gold jewelry) - the more gold they wear, the better. Nike sneakers and athletic clothes mark their style. They also love baseball caps and piercings. They like to get their cars pimped. If you see them, try not to get into trouble. The second urban group are the góticos or gothic. They are similar to those in the USA: they wear black clothes and like pale skin. They may also have some piercings. Sevillanitos make up an interesting group. These are (mostly) men who are really proud of their Spanish/Andalusian origins - that is the reason why they wear clothes with Spanish flags. They love buttoned shirts, polos, and boat shoes. You will distinguish them by their sideburns and their hair covered in gel. The last urban group are hipsters. Hipster fashion is international. In the city, you will find some places where they love to go. Vintage stores, libraries or art galleries and restaurants are some of their favorites. Beards are a must-have for men, and tattoos are also accepted. In short, whenever you walk in the city, pay attention to the people and culture around you and you will realize not everybody looks the same. These are just descriptions, written in a funny way. Please, do not feel offended and enjoy the Spanish life and its people!


Stunning Granada

One of the perks of studying abroad is, no doubt, traveling. No matter which city you choose to study in, you will see many others during the most memorable months of your life. Airport, train station, bus station, or ESA trips – that is all you need to travel. Last weekend, UNE students in Sevilla had the opportunity to travel to one of the most charming cities of the southern part of Andalucia: Granada. Despite the unexpected rain upon arrival and check-in, we had a wonderful time exploring the most pintoresque places of such an enchanting city that was, once, the only Moorish Kingdom during the Spanish Reconquest. And the thing is that Granada’s legacy is full of art, history, and charm. What you should not miss:

      • Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens. What was at one point the palace of the Moorish King is now the most stunning piece of Mudejar Art. Located in the top of a hill, the views from and of the Alhambra are always a memory to keep along with the detailed decoration of its rooms, pillars, doors, windows, and gardens.
    • Albaycin. Opposite to the Alhambra is this neighborhood where the snake-shaped streets takes you back to the Moorish invasion. From the San Nicolas viewpoint you can have wonderful views of the Alhambra at the same time that gypsies play their guitars, sing and dance Flamenco.
  • Tapas. If the Alhambra and the Albaycin are considered historical, Granada also keeps serving tapas as traditional as it used to be. Whenever you go to a tapas bar in Granada, you just need to order a drink – and you will automatically receive a free tapa! This is no doubt such an experience as you never know which tapa you are going to get.
    No doubt, Granada is a must when visiting southern Spain.