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6 posts from April 2011

04/25/2011

Traveling in Spain and Europe while you are in Palma de Mallorca with CIEE, by Jimm Watt (alumni)

Jimmy watt 2Name: James Watt

Semester: Spring 2008

Program: Liberal Arts

School: University of Colorado at Boulder

 

 

Where to go? I can only give you really personal experience. My travelling consisted of 3 days in Barcelona before the program, Valencia, Barcelona again, Amsterdam and Prague during Spring Break, Ibiza and Formentera during Finals, and a final month of personal travelling. That last month I went to Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, Pamplona, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Madrid, Malaga, Granada and Paris. I think Spain has the most to offer. But I will give you my personal recommendations if you plan to Travel.

MY Favorite Places (not in order)

Cinque Terre – It is in Italy and means the 5 lands. It is absolutely beautiful, and an incredible sight. You MUST go. Google it. While your there it’s next to Florence and close to Rome. http://trenitalia.it – the best way to get around.

Las Fallas in Valencia – Google this too. This is the craziest fire festival I have ever seen. It sells out SO fast (hostels) so do it right away. I will list the best travelling ways later. But this festival is just a ferry ride away and you will experience true unregulated madness in the streets of Spain.

Amsterdam – Outside of Coffee Shops, Red Light, and Smart Shop stereotypes, this really is a beautiful city. You will have a good time there and you need about 2-3 days there. Go to Anne Franks house or the Van Gogh museum. Stay near Rembrandt Square.

IBIZA and Formentera – You don’t live in the Balearic Islands and not experience this madness. Go to Ibiza and stay in San Antonio because it is cheap and rowdy. You can catch a bus to anywhere on the island. Go mid to late JUNE – NO EARLIER. Go with a clean liver. If you go to IBIZA, take a ferry to Formentera. Rent a moped or a bike, this place hosts the best beach in Europe, hands down.

Madrid – KAPITAL is a 7 story disco. Visit all the sights and stay at Plaza Sol. There is a great hostel, one of the best in Spain, called Sant Jordi, I think. It has the best ratings on hostel world and is basically on Plaza Sol. And it is only 20 EUROS.

Andalucia – My favorite city in Spain is Granada. Small college town in Andalucia. It’s beautiful, go to the Alhambra. Seville I never made it to but heard it’s great. Malaga was a fun time because of the hostel I stayed at. The beaches aren’t as good as Mallorca and the clubs are weird but this hostel – Casa Babylon Backpackers – might be the funniest hostel ever. I would describe it as a fraternity house run hostel. It’s clean though. Ladies though, the owners are a little creepy. Haha, Met people from Slovakia, Taiwan, Estonia, Switzerland, so on. If you go to Malaga, go to see this scene.

Great places

Prague – It’s a must because everything is so cheap and its probably the best side of Eastern Europe you should visit to see that aspect. They have sweet underground bars too. Great ready for a lot of beer as well. Stay near Wenceslas Square.

Barcelona – Not my personal favorite, but everyone else’s. You will fly out of there almost every time you travel, so you might as well spend a couple days. Go see Gaudí’s Park and go to Discos there. They are famous. Stay on the Ramblas.

Basque Country – It really beautiful. If you can get there for running of the bulls, San Fermin – do it. We ran and it was amazing. It’s probably the best, craziest, most fun festival in the world. We spent 3 days there, $150 dollar rooms, worth every penny. San Sebastian has really cool beaches and is a “chill” area. Lots of Aussies. Bilbao is cool too, go see Guggenheim.

Florence and Rome – I didn’t really care that much, but I guess it is a must see. Go to the Vatican.

Paris – If you have never been to Paris you need to go. It is an incredible city but it is very very expensive. Regardless, go and check it out.

Could have lived without

Valencia – Only go if you’re going to see the LAS FALLAS.

Bilbao – If you’re in Basque country, you go to Bilbao. But don’t make a specific trip just to go to there. Go if you’re going to do ALL of Basque.

Regrets

Germany – Never made it, heard so many great things. (Berlin)

Portugal – Never made it either. Really cool city.

Almonds trees in februaryWhile Traveling

 LISTEN TO WWW.HOSTEL.COM HOSTELWORLD.COM and THEIR RATINGS. THEY ARE CRUCIAL. You have a much better experience in nicer hostels. Also try to find the most centric.

www.airninja.com for all you flying travels

 ALSA or PESA for the bus system in Spain

www.aferry.com for ferry’s out of Mallorca

Surfcamp hostel if you go to San Sebastian

Roma Inn in Rome

Florida Centre in Ibiza

All Barcelona hostels I stayed at sucked. Stay near LAS RAMBLAS!

04/12/2011

Why study abroad in Palma de Mallorca, Spain?


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Name: Brittany Vulich

Semester: Spring 2011

Program: Liberal Arts

School: University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee

 

 ¡Hola! My name is Brittany Vulich from Milwaukee, Wisconsin studying abroad in Palma de Mallorca for the Spring 2011 semester. In the States, I'm a Global Studies and Spanish major with a Chinese minor. In my spare time, I  enjoy watching documentaries, hanging out with friends, and running.

In the Spring 2010 semester, I was in your shoes. I remember spending hours upon hours of research on which study abroad program to chose weighing in costs, courses, credits, and of course, cities! I knew I wanted to study abroad in España but I didn't know which city was right for me. Madrid? Barcelona? Granada? Fortunately, I had two "must-haves" to help me narrow down my search: 1. My home school, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, had to accept the transfer credits as all the credits I'd earn would be counting towards my Spanish major. 2. The program had to include an internship as it was a requirement for my Global Studies major. 

My options dwindled down to Barcelona and Mallorca. 184367_10150099686877426_500457425_6520830_3220749_n



Both are very "parecidos", similar, but what Mallorca had over Barcelona was the true "Spanish lifestyle" that I was craving: rustic seaside villages, charming cafés, and a rich history. I was also drawn to the fact that the UIB, University of the Balearic Islands, is nestled right along the Tramuntana Mountains (spectacular views from the classrooms!)  

I can say with 100% certainty that if I had the chance to go back and do it all again, I would still chose Palma. I have felt right at home from the moment I stepped off of the plane. The Program Directors, Antonia and Susan are there from day one all the way through the semester to answer any questions you may have. During your first few days, you will see the new part and the old part of Palma (la Lonja) by foot, try a montón ( a lot of) authentic Mallorquín food, buy your buss pass for the city and your metro pass to get to and from school, as well as meet your Guardian Angels (Spanish students from the University who let you in on all the insider information on Palma) just to name a few activities.

A few of the many "nice surprises" that I've discovered about Mallorca only once I arrived were:

1. The food and pastries are just amazing. A normal Mallorquín bakery will have meat or veggie stuffed pastries called "empenadas", ensaimadas, gató, and napoletónics (nutella stuffed croissants, my favorite). A typical Mallorquín restaurant offers two courses, a pastry, red wine (vino tinto) and olives all for around 10 euro. My personal favorite is "Paella Ciega" or paella with seafood, minus all the heads and claws!

2. The café con leche (more or less an extra small latte) is only .90 centimos at the UIB and zumo de naranja, or fresh squeezed orange juice, is about 2 euros for a cup.

3. The Mediterránean Sea is just a 15 minute walk from any point in the city.  215569_10150158214047426_500457425_6889046_3079152_n

4. There are so many amazing opportunities for day trips. The island is actually quite larger than I had expected and very diverse. The north, east, south, and west of Mallorca are so geographically different that you must take advantage of exploring each one for a day. My favorite so far has been Deiá on the west coast.

5. Palma has an a -m-a-z-i-n-g night life! Going out for tapas and cañas (beer from the tap) is a Thursday night tradition for many young people along the Ruta Marítima, located in the Lonja, where a good tapa and beer cost only 2 euros.   188346_10150107788042426_500457425_6601138_7677994_n

I hope this has given you some food for thought (no pun intended) for when you are making your decision on where to study abroad. It was a long tedious and process but well worth it in the end.

¡Hasta luego!

 

04/11/2011

Great things you can’t miss while you are in Palma de Mallorca with CIEE, by Jimm Watt (alumni)

Jimmy watt 2Name: James Watt

Semester: Spring 2008

Program: Liberal Arts

School: University of Colorado at Boulder

 

 

CIEE Events

Go to all of them. You never will be able to rent a car and drive to Formentor another time. Go to EVERY one of your excursions with CIEE. First off you paid for them, second your parents want to see some good pictures, and third because you will see how amazing this island is. Go to everything. You will learn so much about Mallorca and Spain from Antonia and Susan or who ever goes on the trip with you. If you have an excursion to Madrid or a big city, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t go. Madrid is AWESOME.

In Mallorca

I could name off a bunch of great restaurants or beaches but I think this is something you need to learn. Walk within the city all the time just browsing and really becoming a local.

Futbol game by jimmy 

 

What I will mention are great things you can’t miss while you are there.

RCD Mallorca – Go to a soccer game. I went with some kids in my class and had a great time.

Ferias de Abril – This is a huge celebration. You will see everyone there and it lasts for 1 week almost. Go at least 3 times and have fun.

Futbol by jimmy

 

 

San juan correfoc by jimmySan Juan Festival – more in late June but this is one of the craziest, most fun festivals I got to celebrate in Spain.

Es Trenc Beach – You can take a bus there and it is hands down, the best beach on the Island.

Magaluf – When it gets into season, go party crazy in Magaluf. You take the 10PM bus to there and the 6AM back. It’s a place for English tourists and gets rowdy but is a good time.

Spain futbol by jimmyArenal – You can do the same thing in Arenal and party with the German tourists. Both are a change of pace from the usual Paseo Maritimo with Mallorcans, mostly locals.

Random reminders

Get a Spanish cell phone. Don’t try to use your American phone. You need a Spanish phone to keep in contact with everyone you meet.  MSN Messenger is basically the AIM of Europe. Everyone has it and it is a great way to keep in contact with people during the day. People don’t use their cell phones as much in Spain, so using MSN is crucial. It’s called hotmail windows messenger.

Last words

IMG_3650There is so much more I can say about my experience and my recommendations. But I think this is enough. I just wanted to give you these aspects so it can give you some sort of direction. To end this, all I can say is really open yourself up. Get out of your comfort zone and push yourself to be the most productive person while you are there. It’s definitely going to be tough the first month or two while you try to adapt. You’re going to miss you friends, your family, and the American college life. You kind of are in a real world setting as you live on your own in a different country. This experience is going to further prepare you for your life. Try to get through the tough times you have and realize the bigger picture of this opportunity. Once you get to that point, it’s all up hill and you will have the best time of your life. Take advantage of it all.

04/07/2011

How to make Spanish Friends in Palma de Mallorca, by Jimm Watt (alumni)

Jimmy watt 2Name: James Watt

Semester: Spring 2008

Program: Liberal Arts

School: University of Colorado at Boulder

If you want to learn Spanish outside of the classroom, find Spanish friends. When I was there, we had two “Guardian Angels”. Aligi and Lola, both of whom became my closest friends in Spain. Get to really know your “Guardian Angels” and spend a lot of time with them. Create a friendship with them because they are all great people whom want to show you their side of Spain. If Aligi is still there, give him a “Whats up buddy!”  for me. 

Jimmy 4
The second way to find Spanish friends is in your class room. I was in 3 classes at the University and made friends with EVERYONE in them, specifically in the hotel management school. Don’t be shy, they love international students. Have fun, meet them, play sports, go out, do bottelons with them, get to know them. They will continue to introduce you to more and more friends and you will become a part of their group.

Last is intercambios, offered by CIEE Palma de Mallorca. These people are key. Not all people want to listen to your broken Spanish sometimes. Intercambios though do. It’s a mutual agreement to help each other which gives both sides more of a commitment to really help each other. I had 3 intercambios, all of whom became great friends of mine as well. Not only that, their friends became great friends of mine and the chain continued.  If you have trouble finding some, this is a great resource. http://www.mundoanuncio.com. Go to Islas Baleares on the left, Palma de Mallorca, Comunidad, intercambio de idiomas. It’s like craigslist, make a post and find a friend. It really works.

Class.

Seriously, study the Spanish. My best times came closer to the end of the semester because my Spanish was so good that I could really have better connections with people and speak better. It’s so important to seriously try to learn Spanish if you want to have successful friends in Spain. Go to class because hearing the Spanish all day helps. Don’t be lazy while you’re abroad, you only have 5 months. Do it up and be productive. 

 

04/05/2011

Tips for Incoming CIEE Palma de Mallorca Students, by Jimmy Watt (alumni)

Jimmy watt 2Name: James Watt

Semester: Spring 2008

Program: Liberal Arts

School: University of Colorado at Boulder

Jimmy 2

 

My name is Jimmy Watt from the University of Colorado at Boulder and I am a Spring 2008 graduate of the CIEE Palma de Mallorca program in Spain. I spent 5 amazing months studying in Palma doing the same exact program and experience that you are just being introduced into. As cliché as it sounds or however many times you’ve heard study abroad students mention it, it really was the best time of my life. I learned so much, accomplished so many goals, and I can really say that I see a huge positive change from the person I was ago. I also had more fun than I could have imagined. So great ready for quite the experience.

Jimmy 1This is somewhat a mini personal student guide of ways to enhance your overall experience in Palma from my perspective. Also this is somewhat a way where I can live vicariously through you all. Jaja! (haha in Spanish Messenger (you’ll see)).  What is mentioned below and in my next blog posts are personal recommendations and advice that I believe will be of great use to you in creating an experience that when you leave Palma, you are completely satisfied and regretless of how you spent your once in a life time experience, living the dream. I hope it helps and if you have any questions, feel free to contact me through my email. I wish you all the best of luck.

Goals

Jimmy 3What you must do before all is set your goals of what you truly want out of this experience. For me, it was undoubtedly to have a lot of fun. But also personally, it was to really learn Spanish, integrate myself into the culture by becoming a local, and to find non-American friends. All easier said than done. I arrived in Mallorca with a pretty low level of Spanish. It was so much easier to hang out with all your American friends because not only do you all speak English but also because you are all on the same boat and can relate with each other’s experiences. Naturally you will bond with each other because of that which is great, but if you get too close with only hanging out with your own program, you will miss a HUGE aspect of this experience.

That leads me to tell you about ERASMUS. But before that, I want to re-mention it, figure out your GOALS. I mean, what you truly want to do and experience. Every week think about accomplishing them. Personally, I came back feeling like a native, improving my Spanish immensely, and having tons of Spanish and European friends. 

So now ERASMUS.

Jimmy 5What is this? Our program had 9 students. At the end I ended up truly being close friends with only one of the nine. That is because I integrated myself into the ERASMUS program. It is the European studying abroad program with a set of about 80 kids from all over EUROPE and the world whom are all studying abroad like yourself. We are talking about Argentina, Mexico, Bulgaria, Italy, Germany, Romania, Greece, you name it, and you can find it. Antonia the Resident Director will set you up in the beginning with a couple of events where you can meet ERAMUS. GO GO GO! No matter how big of a “Resaca” you have, how early it is, how much it costs, GO! You will meet so many kids around the world and really create a group of friends like you’ve never had before. This ERASMUS group usually has a facebook group so join it! When someone posts, meet at Bar Atlantico at 10PM Thursday, or Cala Mayor 3PM Saturday, GO GO GO! I cannot stress it enough how you must attend all ERASMUS unofficial events throughout the semester. This is a KEY aspect of your experience. Meet them, exchange phone numbers and become friends.

04/03/2011

I miss the Spanish lifestyle that I left back in Palma, by Brandon L. Kramer (alumni)

Brandon kramer

 

Name: Brandon L. Kramer

Semester: Spring 2009

Program: Liberal Arts

School: University of Iowa

 

Imagen 124

(cafetería de la UIB con mis amigos)

Imagen 117Studying abroad has been the best experience of my life up to this point. Having the chance to live and learn in Palma de Mallorca, Spain for four months was more prosperous than I could have ever hoped. When I stumbled off the plane in early February, I had come with high expectations of acquiring Spanish proficiency and experiencing something completely different from the little town in Iowa that I grown up in. Hombre, did I underestimate what Palma had to offer! The program offered my classmates and me with incredible opportunities for classes both through CIEE and the Universitat de les Illes Baleares. The professors were extremely knowledgeable and always ready to lend a helping hand whether it was related to school or personal matters. My classmates and I could always count on Antonia, Susan, and the rest of the equipo de CIEE to be our home away from home, which is a much needed relief when you enter the “alternative dimension” of going abroad.

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Grupo en Plaza de EspañaEven when I was outside of school I was provided with wonderful experiences. I acquired several friends through my philosophy classes, as well as around the various barrios of Palma, whom I spent time learning about culture, perspective, and la vida mallorquina. In addition, my home stay worked out great. My family had so much affection for me. Whether it was lending a hand with my language skills, cooking tasty Spanish dishes, or giving me general advise about what to do around the city, they were always there for me! The best part is that even now, over a year later, these relationships are still budding as we continue to converse about our travels, fútbol, school, and life. Although I was definitely challenged, I couldn’t emphasize enough how rewarding it is to understand Spanish now, and how often I am able to utilize it in my everyday life. I have connected with so many Spanish speakers since my time in Mallorca, and I have to attribute those relationships to the skills that this program helped me develop.

IMG_3411 

 

I couldn’t tell you how much I miss the Spanish lifestyle that I left back in Palma. Though I hate to be cliché: You just don’t get sick of studying abroad on an island in the middle of the Mediterranean. ¡Disfruta la vida de Palma!

  Cala varques