CIEE ALCALÁ SUMMER PROGRAM 2015 - SESSION I
SESSION I (29 MAY 2015 – 26 JUNE 2015)
By Sonia Sales
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.