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2 posts from August 2013

08/30/2013

FALL 2013, LIBERAL ARTS + URGD Program, Issue I

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CELEBRATING THE CIEE BUENOS AIRES STUDY CENTER 20th ANNIVERSARY!

Dear Colleagues,

The first month has gone since the start of the fall semester in Buenos Aires for both programs: Liberal Arts program (LA), and the brand new Undergraduate Research Globalization and Development program (URGD). Additionally, starting this semester and during next year we will be celebrating 20 years of the Study Center! Even though we presented the first activity related to this anniversary last semester (the Tribute to Carmen Lapacó, Madre de Plaza de Mayo – Linea Fundadora), the official opening o the Study Center was on fall semester, 1993.

Moreover, we’d like to share with you some snapshots of the past weeks, where students enjoyed many interesting activities, while started living the challenge of the study abroad experience. The orientation period had gone, and we are currently finishing the shopping period for courses. Therefore, every student is deciding, assisted by the staff, his or her course load for the entire semester. We know how intense this period is so, while they study and work hard on their classes, the staff is setting everything for the upcoming field trips of every program.

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Orientation Period

Orientation activities are aligned under three main aspects, every one of them involving specific workshops, sessions, and activities. Therefore, we could group all the past activities under the following paths: Academic Affairs, Culture + Adaptation, and Visa Process. Lastly, we enjoyed a day excursion to the typical Mataderos Craft Fair, as a closure activity for the orientation where students could relax at the time they get a first contact to the gaucho culture of the Pampas, its flavors, music, and dances.  

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Culture + Adaptation

Welcome Dinner >Food is considered to be one of the main gateways to every culture. For that reason, we’d like to start this chapter sharing the first cultural activity, the Welcome Dinner. We shared the first night in “La Parolaccia”, a typical Italian-Argentine restaurant located in Puerto Madero, one of the most scenic neighborhoods of the city. 

Cultural sessions >Likewise past editions, we introduce the students to the local culture trough out three main workshop-sessions during the first day of orientation: How to Navigate the City, Housing System + Insurance, and Safety in BA. Afterwards, they are ready to meet their host families, and move with them to start living as porteños. Later on the orientation, we also offered specific sessions focused on Cultural Adaptation, Cultural Activities in the city, Introduction to the “Rio de la Plata” Spanish, and Travelling Around Argentina.

Brand New! Meet and Greet: “Conociendo a tus vecinos” > We developed this activity with the objective of linking students and families living in the same neighborhood. As a result of this, they gathered –during the first Sunday of the orientation- in selected home stays, where they shared a “five o’clock tea”, a typical Argentine costume. After spending a funny afternoon altogether, not only the students developed future plans with their friends living nearby, but also many of the families! Indeed, they decided to repeat the meetings by their own.

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Tango > The first approach to the world-famous cultural expression of the music and dance in the Rio de la Plata region, El Tango, took place at “Parakultural”, one of the most traditional milongas for locals and visitors. Many  students participated in their first tango lesson for beginners and then enjoyed live music, while some of them where encouraged for the situation and practiced their first moves!  

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Exploring the city: scavenger hunt remix >Through this funny competition around the city, students improved their skills to use the public transportation system. At the end, they were all rewarded with a delicious lunch served in three of the most traditional Pizzerías of the city, tasting this particular local flavor for a world famous dish.

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Cultural and recreative day >After an intense day working on academic affairs, students were invited to participate in three different-and-simultaneous activities:  a co-ed fútbol (soccer) match with staff and other students, a walking tour around Puerto Madero, or a guided visit to the Shoah Museum for them interested in get to know more about this sad chapter of the History from an Argentine perspective. 

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Academic Affairs

To introduce the students to the local academic system involves to also introducing them to the local academic culture. Therefore, specific workshops where given, to provide them a general idea about the academic culture. We talked about the differences between the two systems (public and private), how is the relationship between students and professors, and –mainly- what to expect from this system where university campuses are not an option. 

Registration Process > Once the basis was settled down, we continued providing specific information about every university and department of the partner universities we work with: UBA, UCA, and IUNA. Afterward, students have the possibility to attend specific registration session to every department -assisted directly by their student coordinators- with the objective of selecting their best options for classes to try during the “shopping period”.

One-on-one meetings > Likewise past semester, we reinforced this issue, aiming to facilitate class selection through mandatory meetings with the resident staff in two different stages. During the stage one, every student participated in a follow-up meeting with his or her student coordinator. For the second stage, every student met either Andrea Rizzotti –Resident Director, or Carolina Alba Merlo –Associate Director, with the objective of discussing their tentative course load before the class starting. Therefore, students were able to receive a more personalized advice on his or her particular selection, according to specific preferences, requirements, and expectations.    

URGD

We are very proud of conduct the second edition of this brand new program, which allows honor students to develop a complex research project while studying abroad. Focusing on their topic of interest, they have the chance to deeply analyze the subject under the scope of the current Argentine and Latin American academic approach.

A highly qualified academic team guides and supports them during the whole process, working together in the “masterpiece” of this program: the capstone research project. In addition, students are required to direct enroll in specially selected senior classes at UBA- Social Sciences Department, as the privileged way to develop academic and cultural exchange with advanced social sciences local students. Lastly, they will complete their final course load taking specific classes specifically designed for them within the program, focused on research methods and content topics.

Therefore, students attending this program received all the support needed straight from the Resident Direction, participating in specific advising and monitoring meetings. The objective of the encounters was to help each of them find the classes which best meet their academic requirements, aligned at the same time with their interested and research options.  

Visa Process

Due to Argentine legislation, all students arrive to the country under a tourist visa status. Once onsite, they need to change their legal status from just tourists to “temporary residents”. After finishing this mandatory process, they are allowed to legally study in the country as well as to enjoy some benefits for the residents, such as access to local fares on transportation and touristic attractions. 

Orientation Closure 

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Finally, the orientation period is over. All the students are feeling more comfortable with the city and its culture, and are already empowered to start classes the week after. We know how intense the classes starting in a new culture and academic environment could be when studying abroad… therefore, we invite all the participants to close the orientation period by tasting a bite of the rural setting of the Argentine Pampas… without leaving the city! 

For this first field trip, we went to the south of the big metropolis to neighborhood of Mataderos and its astonishing Craft Fair. This typical venue for locals takes place every Sunday, and could be consider one of the best kept secrets of the city, where it’s possible to taste all the flavors of this big country represented in the food stands. Additionally, visitors can enjoy different “gaucho sports” and folkloric dancers, as well as receive a scope of the rural life by visiting the historical gaucho museum. Yet, it is impressive to be part of this scenic weekly party, located just one hour far from downtown Buenos Aires! 

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Highlighted Cultural activities

Fuerza Bruta

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Fuerza Bruta is considered one of the most important current cultural exportation, taking the Argentine arts to the highest quality and recognition. They are currently in Buenos Aires, as one of the stops of their “Wayra World Tour”. Therefore, we couldn’t pass up this unique opportunity, and invited CIEE students from all programs went to see this once-in-a-lifetime show at the Centro Cultural Recoleta. It’s difficult to describe it… so let the students tell you their impressions of this show!

I really wasn’t sure what to expect going into Fuerza Bruta.  The pictures looked cool and it sounded like a great opportunity to spend time with other students/staff, so I decided to go.  I am so happy I did, because it turned out to be awesome!  Fuerza Bruta was easily the most ridiculous, stimulating, and artistic show I’ve ever seen.  The audience was incorporated into every performance in such a way that it felt like more of an adventure than a show.  I think my favorite moment was seeing Daryl getting smashed over the head with a paper box filled with confetti and glitter.  All in all, it was a great experience and I would love to see it again!

Parker Bussies,  Hope College – LA Program

Fuerza Bruta is a show like no other. Attempting to describe what happens as soon as the music starts and the doors close would be almost impossible. One has to live the experience to understand it, and I am really thankful to CIEE for giving us the opportunity of doing so. I really enjoyed the show and loved to be, as the audience, so actively engaged throughout the performance. The music was amazing and kept me dancing along with the rest of the people in the auditorium. It was great to see everybody around me having so much fun. I can´t wait to go to Fuerza Bruta again, and I am even considering auditioning to be part of the show... Thanks again CIEE!

Mariana Rivera Torres, Georgetown University –URGD Program

Fin de semana largo: exploring the country!

August, 17th was a special day in Argentina: we celebrated the National Day honoring General José de San Martin, considered “the father” of the Argentine independence, and who also contributed to the independence of both Peru and Chile in the Southern Cone.  As a result of this, we all enjoyed the first holiday of the semester on Monday, August 19th. many students decided to travel around the country for the first time, and we’d like t share some of their fantastic experiences:

Montevideo, Uruguay > Last weekend three CIEE students crossed the Río de la Plata to compete in an ultimate frisbee tournament in Montevideo, Uruguay. Ultimate frisbee as a sport is much smaller in South American than in the U.S., but the community is close knit and spirited. We each played 8 games over the course of the weekend, went to a Saturday night tournament party with lots of cumbia dancing, and made a lot of new friends from Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia and Brazil. We all agreed that it was one of the most fun tournaments we had ever been to, and we're excited to keep playing ultimate in the Buenos Aires league this semester

Suzy Jivotovski, Georgetown University - LA Program

Cataratas del Iguazú, Argentina >We left Thursday night, and rolled into Puerto Iguazu on Friday afternoon, leaving plenty of time to explore the town, and hit up the grocery store. Saturday, we did Iguazu National Park literally from open to close, leaving no stone unturned and no path unhiked.We began the day with a boat tour down the Iguazu River, which will most definitely go down in the books as one of the coolest things I’ve done to date. It was so cold at 9 am that my teeth were chattering when we climbed aboard, and for the first 10-15 minutes I was not entirely convinced I was going to make it. Which makes it all the more incredible that when we turned the corner and the falls came into view, I was so stunned that I forgot about the cold entirely. There really aren’t any words to do justice to the sheer magnitude and beauty of the whole thing. After riding around and viewing the landscape from afar, for the grand finale the boat captain drove the boat into the falls to drench us.

I’m really glad that we took the leap and just decided to go for it, because this weekend was definitely a once in a lifetime experience. Plus simply by doing, I now have a much better grasp on the ins and outs of travel that will help for planning future trips. Buenos Aires is an incredible city, which makes it easy to forget that it is really only one small part of the huge and varied landscape of Argentina, and the Southern Cone of Latin America. After this weekend, I am all the more excited to see as much of it as I can.

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Haley Shoaf, Georgetown University - LA Program

08/14/2013

SUMMER 2013, Spanish Language Program, Issue II

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GREETINGS FROM BUENOS AIRES!

The second edition of the intensive summer language program just ended and it was a great learning experience for everyone that took part on its! The main feature of this program is to emphasize learning Spanish in context. That means the students participate in a variety of cultural outings around the city (solidifying not only their vocabulary, but also their knowledge of the city, its culture and history) and conversational exchanges with Argentines their age. This issue focuses on some cultural excursions and the farewell party, giving you an idea about the wealth of cultural and language immersion opportunities our students had through their experiences in the summer program!

Bike Tour

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Taking an opportunity to enjoy the sunshine, the students were taken on a bike tour of the city. Able to cover more ground this way, we had the chance to visit Buenos Aires’ ecological reserve, on the east side of Puerto Madero, Costanera Sur. Entering the reserve, you feel like you’ve completely left the city behind, the only remnants of which are the visible skyscrapers dotting the horizon over the trees. After touring the reserve, the students were led on a tour of Puerto Madero, one of the many barrios in the city. It was a truly unique experience biking from the busy city streets to the nature laden reserve and the students said it was one of their favorite cultural outing. 

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La Boca + PROA

IMG_1850We visited the majestic building of PROA, an arts foundation devoted to promote trendy artists from all over the world. Afterwards, we toured La Boca, one of Buenos Aires’ many barrios, most known for its brightly colored buildings and tango dancers performing right on the cobblestone streets. Although it is one of the more touristy places in the city, it definitely has a unique and vibrant personality that is truly Argentine. 

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San Isidro

100_3768This scenic suburb is located in the Northern area of the city. Originally developed as a district where the wealthiest porteño families spent the summer time in their majestic cottages, nowadays is a picturesque neighborhood. It is famous not only for its historical buildings and villages, but also for its vibrant life and river front parks. 

Teatro Colón

IMG_0767What else can we says about one of the most beautiful and prestigious opera houses of the world? Please, join us in this tour around this recently-refurbished architecture Jewell, where it is still possible to feel astonished with its magnificence, as though we would be living during the Belle Époque times… 

COPI Exam

After six weeks living and taking Spanish classes in Buenos Aires, the students are putting their skills to the test with the internationally recognized COPI –an ACTFL exam. This exam, following the standards provided by the American Council of Teaching Foreign Languages gauges a non-native speaker’s ability to navigate various situations orally (complexity of speech, appropriate responses to situations, etc.), and provides the student with a level of expertise in a foreign language. Students can use this certification on CVs and job applications as “proof” of their competence in Spanish. It is impressive to realize how, after six weeks of full immersion in Spanish, most students see a rise in one or two levels (if not more); a process which can take years if one is only exposed to a foreign language in the classroom.

Farewell Party!

IMG_0889In order to wrap up a fantastic experience here in Buenos Aires, the students, their host families, professors and staff were all invited to a despedida to say goodbye before the students have to leave for their return flights home the following day. Everyone got together in a sports club around the city where they enjoyed a delightful meal (asado, it couldn’t have been anything else than the local barbecue!). Moreover, prior to the lunch we organized a tango class for both students and families, as the last chance for them interested in learning the basic movements of this rhythm before boarding their flight back home. It was a very emotional moment, especially for the students, because it was a special occasion to thank the professors and host families, without them this experience wouldn’t have been as special as it was. 

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