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By Andrew Elmeer

University of Wisconsin-Madison

As I gaze out of my bedroom window, I realize how much has occurred since the first time I stepped into this room and looked upon Alcalá. I remember vividly my mixed feelings of anxiety, excitement, and confusion when I met my host family and they brought me to their apartment: the place in which I was going to stay in this foreign land for two months. Although I had traveled to Spain previously, I had not practiced, nor used, Spanish for two years and was nervous about communicating with my host family, as well as, understanding my professors in class.  However, I was excited about the new opportunities I was about to have like regaining my lost Spanish abilities, traveling through Europe, meeting new people, and spending an extended period of time in a different culture.


During my first day with my host family, as I am still relearning basic vocabulary and speaking abilities, I found out that the next day I was going to their cousin’s first communion and that I was going to meet the whole family. Needless to say, I was slightly nervous, but of course, it turned out to be a great experience for me. Even though at times I had a difficult time conveying my ideas, I was able to have many engaging conversations with different family members and, most importantly, experience my first three-and-a-half hour lunch. After I got through that, and actually enjoyed myself immensely, I knew I could at least survive school and the language barrier.


One of the many perks of staying with a host family is that you are able to experience parts of the culture, like my first communion experience, that are inaccessible to people that stay in apartments. It is also important to point out that not having to cook any meals, and having the opportunity to try many different Spanish dishes, is a major perk. In addition, my Spanish speaking and understanding abilities would not be as advanced as they are now had I not stayed with a host family. Almost every day, I ate lunch and dinner with my host mom, during which we conversed completely in Spanish. Having those opportunities, in addition to hearing and speaking Spanish at school, were vital to developing my communication abilities.


Although I was nervous at first, I thoroughly enjoyed taking classes in Spain. Due to taking history and culture classes of Spain, I now have a deeper understanding of Spain’s fascinating past and could appreciate the monuments I saw in Spain more profoundly. They also helped me learn more sophisticated vocabulary that went beyond words used in casual conversation. I notice when I watch Spanish news, I am now able to understand more of the news stories because of the vocabulary I learned in class. Additionally, with having to write papers and answer essay questions on the tests, you are forced to look up and learn more vocabulary to express your ideas effectively. My listening skills improved from the classes, as well, because the professors are native speakers and teach completely in Spanish. Even though they speak slightly slower than normal to ensure we understand more material, I now can hear 95% of everything said during class and always understand the main ideas being taught.


By being in class and having a two-day orientation with my program group, it was easy to meet people and I became close with the group just after a few days. After class, even the first week, it was always easy to find people to go explore Alcalá or to go eat tapas because of how quickly the group became close. Actually, after knowing everyone for a week, I went with a group of friends to Seville and Granada for the first weekend. Having a solid group of friends made it easier to plan weekend trips, as well as, made them more enjoyable.

Because of Alcalá’s location, it was easy to travel Spain and to stay busy. Alcalá is about forty minutes from Madrid, which is in the heart of Spain. Therefore, you never have to cross the entire country to travel anywhere within Spain. Additionally, having an international airport close-by was great for traveling outside of Spain. For example, during the time between sessions, I traveled with a friend to London, which was nice to be in to speak English again for a few days. Although, a few times the first day my friend asked the kiosk owners questions in Spanish by accident, which was entertaining.


Even though Madrid is useful for traveling to other places, it also is a fantastic place in itself. As the biggest city in Spain, it has a multitude of tourist spots, restaurants, parks, etc. Many weekends I would not travel because I enjoyed going into Madrid to see a tourist spot, or hang out in a park, and then eat tapas with friends. It has plenty of sites like the Prado, Reina Sofia, or Royal Palace where one can spend many hours, but it also has places like the Plaza Mayor, Parque Retiro, or the Plaza de España, which are great places to just slow down and watch the world pass by.


This hardly scratches the surface of what I have done and accomplished in my time abroad. I did not mention all of the people I met from Spain, the U.S., and Europe in general, or all of the phenomenal cities and monuments I’ve had the privilege of visiting. As I gaze out my window upon Alcalá now, I think of how I have become so accustomed to life in this town, how many memories I have made, how cool it is to have had to communicate in a foreign language for two months, how I have developed as a Spanish speaker, how beneficial of an experience this has been in my life, and, most importantly, how am I going to be able to say good-bye.



By Elly Alexander

Indiana University-Bloomington


In the “Spanish for Healthcare Professionals” class, you spend the first two weeks studying specific health care terms and getting an in depth look at the public health system in Spain, and spend the last two weeks shadowing a doctor in a field of your choosing. You get to pick your own hours (in accordance with the schedule of your doctor) to shadow, and it gives you a lot of freedom to enjoy a lot of different experiences within the hospital and in Spain in general.

My experience in the hospital at Alcala was perhaps one of the most important cultural experiences that I had during my month in Spain. I got a chance to experience what the public health system was really like: the good, the bad and the ugly. I got a chance to interact with an extremely knowledgeable doctor who gave a good insight into the differences between the two systems and was extremely warm and welcoming. More than anything, I got to interact with Spanish speaking clientele, which helped me improve my level of understanding and speaking immensely. I walked away with an above average perspective on the good and bad parts of the public health system, and a huge appreciation for the doctors in Spanish hospitals. Overall, it was a great experience that I would highly recommend to anyone looking to go into the health profession. It’s definitely a unique opportunity that you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.



By  Sonia Sales

Resident Coordinator 

10 July 2015

In the second session of the CIEE Alcalá Summer program, we went to Valencia, the third largest city in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona. 


Paco was our tour guide and he showed us the most important places of the city center of Valencia, like its famous bullring.  


After a nice walk contemplating the city, we stopped at Santa Catalina, a cafe where you can get the best horchata, the typical drink in Valencia. Two of our students were celebrating their birthday, so we accompanied the horchata with fartons, the famous pastries of Valencia and we sang Happy Birthday. 


Full of energy, we went back to the hotel but this time we walked through the gardens of Turia, created at the end of the 20th century as a result of the diversion of the river to a new artificial course.





11 July 2015

After a nice breakfast at the hotel, we head back to the city center to visit the silk market, the main monument of the city and a masterpiece of civil Gothic architecture.


The silhouette of the Lonja and its main façade, which overlooks the historic Plaza del Mercado, is part of one of the most attractive and architecturally important corners of the ancient capital of the Region of Valencia.


After we visited the silk market, we went to Mercado Central, where Vicente was waiting for us. Vicente is a paella master and he took us inside the market to buy ingredients to cook a paella. 


All the students were surprised about how different markets look in Spain. 


When we got all the ingredients, we were ready to start to cook this delicious paella! We met Vicente's wife, Charo, who was waiting for us at the kitchen. To our surprise, we had the opportunity to cook more typical spanish dishes, such as gazpacho, tortilla de patata and ali-oli. 




We had a great time learning how to cook but it was even better when we tried our delicious meal!


After a nice dessert of horchata and fartons, we head back to the hotel to get ready to go to the beach. We went to La Malvarrosa and we spent a great time swimming and playing volleyball. 

12 July 2015

Before taking the train back to Alcalá, we spent the morning at Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, an entertainment-based cultural and architectural complex in the city. 


Designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela, the project underwent the first stages of construction in July 1996 and the finished "city" was inaugurated April 16, 1998 with the opening of L'Hemisfèric.








29 June 2015

Second session of the CIEE Alcalá de Henares Summer Program.


All students arrived to Alcalá safe and sound to Madrid airport. After a long trip, we went to Hotel Campanile where we stayed overnight to have the orientation sessions. The first day we started with a stereotype game and we talked about the differences about our cultures in Spain and the United States.


During the first day, we enjoyed lunch and dinner all together as a group.


The next day, after the safety presentation, all the host families came to the hotel to go to their new houses.

1 July 2015

The next morning we started the day early in the morning to have a tour of the University of Alcalá, so the students can see where the classes are located.


After having lunch at home, we met up to have a tour of the city center of Alcalá de Henares. Our local tour guide, Álvaro, showed us the most important places of this historic city. We started at the University of Alcalá, founded in 1499.


In our way to his house, we met our host Miguel de Cervantes at the plaza that is named after him, Plaza Cervantes, the heart of the city.


Walking through Calle Mayor, the most famous street in Alcalá, we met Sancho and Don Quixote in front of Cervante’s house.


2 July 2015

The second day of classes we visited the capital of Spain, Madrid. We took the train and started the tour at Puerta del Sol, the heart of Spain.


Before continuing with the visit, we stopped at La Mallorquina, an emblematic bakery open since 1894. There, we tried the famous Napolitanas de chocolate .



We continued to the Royal Palace passing by Opera.



And we finished at Plaza Mayor. 




By Maddie Ketchem

Indiana University-Bloomington


Greetings from Alcalá de Henares, Spain! I’m here in Spain studying at la Universidad de Alcalá de Henares (UAH) from Indiana University in the United States.

Maddie 3

Choosing the CIEE Alcalá de Henares program was the best decision for me and this experience has been the most impactful part of my time in college. Through CIEE, I’ve experienced a completely different world, made lasting friendships, and become a part of the Spanish culture.


I chose CIEE’s Alcalá de Henares, Spain program for many reasons. First and foremost, I felt that the courses offered through UAH best fit with my academic needs to complete my Spanish minor at Indiana University. Second, I found Alcalá de Henares on the map of Spain and saw that it was very close to Madrid – the center of Spain. This was important to me because I definitely wanted to travel around Spain on the weekends and be close enough to a large city to experience the Spanish urban atmosphere after classes. Third, I looked up the history of Alcalá de Henares and discovered that it was the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Spanish novel Don Quixote. As an avid literature fan and bookworm, I was jazzed about this fun fact. Fourth, I looked up the CIEE program website and was impressed with the stories of support that other students received while studying abroad in foreign countries with CIEE. 

Maddie 1


My classes at UAH were interesting to me because they directly correlated to the world around me – I would learn about a historical event in class then see the effects of this history in Spanish cities. Through my Spanish Culture and Civilization course, I was able to travel to Toledo. I was amazed at the beauty of Toledo and the historical significance that the city contained. Through my Business Spanish course, I toured a local Spanish yogurt company, Danone, and learned about the marketing strategies used in Spain to promote Spanish products.

  Alcalá tour 10

On the weekends, I traveled all around Spain. On my first weekend trip, I went with a group of friends to Seville and Granada. In Seville, we stayed in a hostel together and explored the city – everything from El Real Alcazar to La Catedral de Santa Maria. After several days, my group took a bus to Granada and toured La Alhambra, which was truly beautiful. My next weekend trip was CIEE sponsored to Barcelona! We went to the beach, toured the famous Sagrada Familia, and learned about the history of the Catalonian architecture and modernistic styles that developed there.



While traveling around Spain was incredible, Alcalá de Henares was home. I loved exploring this beautiful and historic city after classes, on weekends, and with friends. Alcalá de Henares is where I made my friends – these students became the people I travelled with on the weekends, made dinner plans with every week, and studied with before our final exams at UAH. I loved being close to Madrid and experiencing the city atmosphere then coming back home to Alcalá de Henares and experiencing the central family atmosphere of this town.

 Maddie 2

Since the moment of my arrival, my Resident Coordinator, Sonia, proved herself as part of my support network in Spain and was an integral part of my Spanish experience. When I arrived in Spain, I had a rough start with navigating the terminals of the Madrid airport but I called Sonia and she immediately talked me through the situation and got me onto the CIEE program bus safe and sound.

  Orientación 40

My experience here at Alcalá de Henares is something that would not have been possible anywhere else in the world. I loved my time here in Spain and I’m so glad that I made the choice to come here with this program. I’m going to miss Spain and I’m going to miss my new friends. I enjoyed every minute of my time here at Alcalá de Henares and I am forever changed by this beautiful culture! I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity.




SESSION I (29 MAY 2015 – 26 JUNE  2015)


By Sonia Sales

Resident Coordinator

CIEE Alcalá de Henares


29 May 2015

After a long trip, all students arrived to Alcalá safe and tired but with enough energy to make the best of this experience.

We went to Hotel Campanile where we stayed overnight to have the orientation sessions. The first day was a calm day and we had our first bites of Spanish cuisine. (Of course, all together)


Orientation started with a stereotype game and an icebreaker and we discovered some concepts about our cultures that weren’t true in Spain nor in the United States.


The next morning, after the language placement exam and the safety and security session, all the host families came to pick up the students to go to their new Spanish homes.


After a weekend off spending time with their new Spanish families, the students started the classes on Monday morning after a tour of all the summer facilities and services at the University of Alcalá.


1st June 2015


After the first day of classes we met at the University to take the train and visit the capital of Spain, Madrid.



We saw some of the most important spots of Madrid and the weather was hot, but we had a great time exploring the city.




2nd June 2015

The next day after lunch, we stayed in Alcalá to visit the most important places and learn more about the history of Alcalá de Henares and one of its most prominent historic figure,  the writer Miguel de Cervantes.


We visited his birth house which is now a museum


We walked on the famous Calle Mayor, the main street in Alcalá, with its peculiar covered sidewalks and medieval buildings. On the calle Mayor, students also learned about the city´s heritage of three cultures (Christian, Arab and Jewish) that makes Alcala a valued part of the U.N. World Heritage sites.


We also got to know the origins and history of the University of Alcalá de Henares, founded by cardinal Cisneros in 1499. Students really got to appreciate how deep the traditions are in Alcala.



We also met three American nuns who moved to Alcalá and are now living here and informed us about the popular festivities coming in the next days. There was also theatre festival that attracted many visitors to Alcala in June.


And, of course, we had an encounter with Quijote and Sancho (as statues).



In their free time, the students were travelling on their own to different cities in Spain. They went to historic places such as Granada, Sevilla, Valencia, Toledo, Segovia



…and then the CIEE group went to BARCELONA! The group was super excited that we travelled to this mediterranean city, our destination for the three-day CIEE weekend excursion. We visited gorgeous parts of Barcelona, surrounded by many beautiful buildings and a lot of the art of Gaudi.



19 June 2015


We travelled by AVE (high speed Spanish train) and arrived to the city in less than 3 hours. Then, after checking in into our hotel, we started a walking tour to visit the old quarters with our tour guide, Paco, and we learned of the distinct regional and Catalan identity that is part of Spain.



20 June 2015

On Saturday morning, we had breakfast at the hotel and visited the Sagrada familia, the unfinished church designed by Gaudi. Students got to see one of the biggest tourist attractions in Spain and got a better understanding of why Barcelona is a popular destination for international visitors.




After a few hours of free time to have lunch, we met again to go to the beach at La Barceloneta, a very popular area of Barcelona.


We had a great time swimming and mixing with locals. On our way there, we passed through the beautiful harbor.


And on Sunday morning, before our departure to Madrid, we had a final architectural tour of Modernism, where we saw one of the most important houses of rich Catalan families in the 20th century, for example, such as the Casa Milà in the picture.


21st June 2015


After a nice walk around one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, we took our fast train back to Madrid and then Alcalá de Henares. 


We were tired after the whole weekend, but we had one of best experiences this session. 




We have our 3rd CIEE meeting to talk about what is going on? on March 20.

Móvil marzo 2013 541

 Semana Santa (Holy Week/Easter) vacation was from March 22nd to April 1st. All of the students explored other cities in Spain and Europe.


Lagos portugal.jpg 2

 Students were visiting different places (Soria, Cuenca, El País editorial department, AS editorial department, Don Quijote rute, …) with IBF professors.

Valerie y El País

Valerie y As
 Our students were invited to "US Young Leaders in Spain" at UAH.

Us leaders 2

We have our last CIEE meeting to talk about Reversal Shock on April 16 and also we expressed our support and sincerest sympathies to our colleagues and all those who were directly impacted by the incident at the Boston Marathon the day before.

There were many cultural activities during the Cervantes Award Week (Premio Cervantes). The award is given to the best writer in the Spanish language. This year the winner was José Caballero Bonald.

 At midday of April 17th was the Diplomas Ceremony for Spring 2013 students. Afterwards we had a picnic inside Trinitarios building the gardens outside the school.





Final exams were on April 24th and 25th so the weeks before were filled with work and anticipation, as is normal this time of year.


Our Farewell Coffee/Tea was on April 25th; right after the exams had ended. It was a sad afternoon!!! But, 5 students will be in Alcalá with their regular university courses, so I will not be alone ;) until Summer 2013 program starts.





CIEE-ALCALÁ- SPRING 2013. ALCALÁ by Sean Delany (Ursinus College)

Plaza de cervantes

El mejor sitio para estudiar en el extranjero, específicamente en España, es Alcalá de Henares. La ciudad tiene todo lo que se puede necesitar, incluyendo mucha historia, restaurantes y cosas que puedes hacer durante la noche. Además, Alcalá es bastante pequeña pero sólo treinta minutos hasta Madrid si se quiere ver famosos museos, los partidos de fútbol o tener una noche más extravagante.  Pero como ya he mencionado, no hace falta viajar a Madrid para experimentar una gran variedad de actividades en Alcalá.

            El foco de Alcalá está en la plaza de Cervantes. Allí puedes ver a la gente paseando todas las horas del día y charlando con amigos. A veces hay unos eventos allí como la media maratón de Alcalá en la primavera o durante el invierno hay una pista de hielo. De vez en cuando me gusta ir allí sólo para sentarme en el banco y disfrutar del ambiente de Alcalá. Al lado de la Plaza de Cervantes está situada la Calle Mayor. Esta calle está llena de tiendas, bares y restaurantes e historia. Es la calle con soportales más larga de España y en ella está la casa natal de Cervantes. De andar a través de toda la calle, llegarías a la Catedral Magistral. La catedral es preciosa y se puede ver la bella torre desde casi toda la ciudad. Si un edificio que se construyó en 1514, todavía no es bastante antiguo, también se puede ir a ruinas romanas en los límites de la ciudad.

            Si no es aficionado a la historia, no se preocupe, hay bastantes cosas que se pueden hacer durante la noche. Hay varias discotecas, como Maná Maná o el Casco antiguo, y un montón de bares y mesones. Si le guste cantar, hay varios sitios donde se puede ir a karaoke, como la Champanería. Si prefieres una noche tranquila, también hay varios cines y teatros, como el Corral de comedias, que es el teatro más antiguo del mundo.

            Si todas estas cosas, todavía no son bastante, también hay mucha naturaleza genial. Fuera de la ciudad hay montes que se llaman los Cerros de Alcalá que tienen muchos caminos para caminar o montar en bici. En fin, Alcalá tiene más que es imaginable y es una ciudad preciosísima. Cualquier persona tiene que ir a verla por lo menos una vez en su vida.




            The best place to study abroad, especially in Spain, has to be Alcalá de Henares. The city has everything that you could possibly need, including history, restaurants and plenty of things to do during the night. In addition, Alcalá is fairly small but only thirty minutes away from Madrid where you could see many famous museums, soccer games, or have a more extravagant night. But as I mentioned it is not necessary to go there because in Alcalá there is a wide range of things to do.

            The focal point of the city lies in the Plaza de Cervantes. There you can find people walking around talking with friends. Sometimes there are special events there like the half marathon in the spring or an ice rink during the winter. From time to time, I enjoy go there to sit and enjoy the wonderful atmosphere of Alcalá. To the side of the plaza there is the Calle Mayor. This street is the longest with columns in all of Spain and is filled with history such as the birth house of Cervantes. If you traverse the whole street you will come upon the Cathedral Magistral. The cathedral is magnificent and you can see its beautiful tower from practically anywhere in the city. If a building that was constructed in 1514 is not old enough, you can see Roman ruins on the outskirts of the city. If you are not a fan of history, no worries, there is plenty of night life. There are various discotechs like Maná Maná or the Casco Antiguo and a ton of bars. If you like to sing there are plenty of places to go for Karaoke like the Champanería. If you prefer a more calm night, there are also cinemas and movie theaters, like the Corral de Comedias, which is the oldest theater in the world.

            As if all of these things were not enough, there is also fantastic nature. Outside the city there are mountains called the Cerros de Alcalá that contains plenty of trails for hiking or mountain biking. In conclusion, Alcalá has more than is imaginable and is a precious city. Every person must come at least once in their life to see it.


CIEE-ALCALÁ- SPRING 2013. Field Trip to Seville by Amanda Recktenwald (University of Wisconsin Madison)

Blog _3--Plaza de España

 La imagen de España

            El fin de semana pasado  viajé a Sevilla, una ciudad en la región del sur de España llamada Andalucía. Revisando el fin de semana, fue mi viaje favorito de todo el semestre. ¿Por qué? Era tan español. Cuando la gente oye la palabra "España", inconscientemente crea asociaciones con el país: el sol, la siesta, el flamenco, los toros, el catolicismo, el vino. Básicamente, una tarde normal en Sevilla.

            Hemos elegido el momento perfecto para nuestro viaje, según el contenido de la clase. En mi clase de Cultura y Civilización, estamos estudiando el régimen de Franco (1936-1975). Francisco Franco fue un dictador que creó la imagen de España que hoy conocemos al ordenar la cultura de Andalucía. No fue sino hasta que viajé a Sevilla que entendí lo que mi profesor quería decir con esta declaración. Sevilla es una representación perfecta de la imagen del mundo de España. Sol sin parar, un ambiente totalmente relajado y espectáculos de flamenco todas las noches de la semana. Las campanas de la iglesia sonaron a las 4,08 en lugar de las 4,00. Así es como el mundo ve a España. Esto es lo que pensamos que estudian en el extranjero sobre España.

            En retrospectiva, por mucho que me encante Sevilla, estoy feliz de no haber elegido estudiar allí durante todo el semestre. Me encanta el ambiente español del fin de semana, pero es difícil imaginarme a mí misma estudiando en un ambiente tan relajado. Yo soy el tipo de persona que sin duda elegiría el sol en vez de la tarea cada vez. Sin embargo, fue bueno experimentar ese estilo de vida "español", aunque fuera sólo durante poco tiempo.

Blog _3--Catedral

Blog _3--Plaza del Toros

The Image of Spain

            This past weekend I traveled to Sevilla, a city in the Southern region of Spain (Andalucia). Reviewing the weekend, it was probably my favorite trip of the entire semester. Why? It was so Spanish. When people hear the word “Spain”, they subconsciously make associations with the country. Sun, siesta, flamenco, bulls, Catholicism, wine. Basically, an average afternoon in Sevilla.

            We timed our trip perfectly, as far as class content is concerned. In my Culture & Civilization class, we are studying the Franco regime (1936-1975). Francisco Franco was a dictator who created the image of Spain that we know today by mandating the culture of Andalucia. It wasn’t until I traveled to Sevilla that I understood what my professor meant by this statement. Sevilla is a perfect representation of the world image of Spain. Non-stop sunshine, a completely relaxed atmosphere, and flamenco shows every night of the week. The bells at the church chimed at 4:08 instead of 4:00. That is how the world sees Spain. This is what we thought studying abroad in Spain would be like.

            In retrospect, as much as I love Sevilla, I am happy that I did not choose to study there for an entire semester. I loved the Spanish atmosphere of the weekend, but it is hard to picture myself studying in such a relaxed environment. I am the type of person that would definitely choose sunshine over homework every time. But, it was good to experience that “Spanish” lifestyle, even if it was only for a short time.

Blog _3--Torre del Oro




¿Quiénes son Cristina y Fausto? Se puede decir que Cristina y Fausto son los directores de CIEE para nuestro grupo en Alcalá de Henares, pero creo que son más. Además de ser nuestros profesores y mentores durante nuestro tiempo en Alcalá, funcionan como nuestros terceros padres (¡qué suerte que tenemos padres de verdad, de España y ellos!) El día que llegamos Cristina estaba esperando en el aeropuerto con un anuncio de CIEE hasta que todo el grupo llegó a Madrid. Su sonrisa grande y su cariñosa manera de ser me calmó inmediatamente. Antes de conocer a nuestras familias, pasamos dos días de orientación en los cuales aprendimos un poco sobre la cultura y las normas de España, la seguridad y el Instituto en donde estudiaríamos. También, ella es nuestra profesora de la clase de gramática en el Instituto y su oficina siempre está abierta para discutir o charlar sobre cualquiera duda o problema. Fausto es nuestro tutor y líder de los viajes. Cada semana, tenemos la oportunidad de una tutoría si necesitamos ayuda con una clase o simplemente queremos más práctica para hablar. Durante la orientación, él nos introdujo las ciudades de Alcalá y Madrid. También, tenemos dos viajes con CIEE durante el semestre. El primer viaje fuimos a Extremadura y Fausto nos enseñó mucho sobre las historias de las tres ciudades que visitamos: Cáceres, Mérida y Trujillo. Mi parte favorita fue ver el teatro, el anfiteatro y el acueducto de los Milagros en Mérida que había estudiado en Historia de Arte en el Instituto. El segundo viaje fuimos a León, Rueda y Las Cuevas del Valporquero. Vimos las vidrieras magníficas de la Catedral de León, probamos vino blanco muy rico de la región de Rueda y exploramos cuevas subterráneas con estalagmitas increíbles.



Who are Cristina and Fausto? One could say that Cristina and Fausto are the CIEE directors for our group in Alcalá de Henares, but I think they are more. Other than being our professors and mentors during our time in Alcalá, they function as our third parents (how lucky we are to have real parents, Spanish parents, and them!) The day we arrived Cristina was waiting in the airport with a CIEE sign until everyone in our group arrived in Madrid. Her big smile and caring demeanor immediately calmed my nerves. Before meeting our families, we spent two days of orientation in which we learned a little bit about Spanish culture and norms, safety, and the Institute where we would be studying. Also, she is our Grammar professor at the Institute and her office is always open to discuss any doubt or problem. Fausto is our tutor and trip leader. Every week, CIEE students have the opportunity for a tutor session if we need help with a class or simply want more practice talking. During orientation, he introduced us to the cities of Alcalá and Madrid. Also, we have two trips with CIEE throughout the semester. The first trip we went to Extremadura and Fausto taught us a lot about the histories of the three cities we visited: Cáceres, Mérida, and Trujillo. My favorite part was seeing the theater, amphitheater, and Miraculous Aqueduct in Mérida that I studied in Art History at the Institute. The second trip we went to León, Rueda, and The Caves of Valporquero. We saw the magnificent stained-glass windows of the León Cathedral, tasted delicious white wine in the region of Rueda, and explored subterranean caves with incredible stalagmites. 550052_454717414596811_883051026_n 473_454734447928441_216977233_n