Worth the Wait: A Study Abroad Experience

This spring, University of California, Irvine student Shirelle Chalamish spent a semester studying abroad in Madrid and Rome. For this week’s post, Shirelle takes us through the many stages of adjusting to life abroad.

There’s nothing like the rush you get when you’re finally able to tell your friends and family that you’ve been accepted to your desired study abroad program. Everything about your life, the way you view the remaining days you have left in your home country, how you speak to those you love transforms because of this impending life change. You suddenly find yourself trying to savor every moment, every daily task or interaction, just to gain a mental snapshot of what you’re leaving behind. Even packing, a task you’ve gotten more used to since moving away for college, has suddenly become a nearly impossible task. But you’re leaving, you’re going to explore a new society and culture, and every aspect of this new adventure (even the harder parts) is completely worth it.

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SBCC in Madrid: ¡Bienvenidos!

This Fall, an adventurous group of Santa Barbara City College students will be living and studying in Madrid, Spain. They will be delving into a wide array of topics, from cultural studies, to communications, to film. ACCENT is proud to be sharing the experiences of the program’s Official Student Blogger, Rachel Sevy, as she and her classmates embark on this life-changing adventure!

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Four Days in Galicia: History, Culture, and Beauty

This week’s post comes from William Tsai and Morgan Yee, two students from the University of California Education Abroad Program in Madrid. William and Morgan describe the breathtaking beaches, delectable seafood, awe-inspiring architecture, and the rich cultural traditions of Galicia, an autonomous region in northwestern Spain.

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Photos from “A Mary-Go-Round: My Study Abroad in Spain”

University of California student Mary Zhou is just beginning her adventure in Madrid. As a recipient of the Gilman Scholarship, a U.S. State Department-sponsored program, Mary is participating in the Gilman Service Project to help promote Study Abroad. As she travels across Madrid, Barcelona, and Segovia, Mary will be submitting a series of photos and short anecdotes on Facebook and Instagram, and we are delighted to share some of those photos here. Continue reading

A Taste of Barcelona

This week’s post comes from Texas Christian University student Olivia Paulson, who was so moved by her trip to Barcelona that she filmed and edited a short video capturing her favorite memories of that fantastic city. Olivia introduces her video with a few short words on what inspired her to go beyond merely taking photographs, instead opting to bring Barcelona to life for her friends and family. Continue reading

Studying at a Spanish University

ACCENT works with local institutions to offer several direct enrollment programs, where students at our partner universities have the opportunity to attend classes at Spanish universities. Direct enrollment programs allow students to experience a foreign educational system first-hand. The transition is a challenging and rewarding process. At ACCENT Madrid, direct enrollment students benefit from the support and expertise of our Academic Liason/Programs Coordinator Raquel del Pozo, who assists with course selection, registration, academic advising, and helps students adjust to a different system. This week, we’ve asked Raquel to answer some of the most common questions asked by incoming students about academic and student life at universities in Spain.

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The Madrid Río Project

This week’s post is shared from the class blog for the University of Minnesota Cities on Water program. The program, which focuses on the architectural design of European cities, teaches students how natural water formations play a big role in how cities are developed and designed. Join student Leslie Johnson as she describes how the unique design of the Madrid Río Project allows Madrid’s locals to enjoy both a high-speed motorway and a scenic river walk in the same place.

We are already two weeks into our stay here in Madrid through the University of Minnesota’s Cities on Water study abroad program, facilitated through ACCENT, and time continues to fly by! The program comprises a mix of landscape architecture and architecture students from UMN, and we’re studying different aspects of Madrid’s urban design.

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Advice from the ACCENT Madrid Question Box!

We always enjoy hearing from students about how studying abroad has changed their lives and given them a fantastic learning experience. Our ACCENT staff in Madrid have enjoyed hearing from students so much that they have set up a Question Box, where students can tell us (anonymously or otherwise) what made their study abroad experience special. Here are just a few responses from students, accompanied by a short introduction from Madrid Programs Coordinator Bethany Remington. IMG_20170123_191456_707 Continue reading

Learning Through Service: Students Spread Literacy in Madrid

Today’s post celebrates the excellent volunteer work done by ACCENT students participating in the Heritage Spanish Class, a course designed for native Spanish speakers. Students in this course were not only able to further develop their language skills, but also put them to good use, serving as volunteers with a local non-profit organization. Service learning abroad is a unique and inspiring way for students to engage with their host community. 

Several varieties of Spanish-speakers studying together in one class, with remarkable differences in oral and written skills and different Hispanic cultural backgrounds: this is a typical Heritage Spanish Class. Heritage Spanish courses are designed for American students who grew up in Spanish-speaking households. Each semester, we offer our Heritage students a different course, adapted to their individual needs. This semester, Professor Carola Saiegh and I designed a Service Learning course, supported by ACCENT Madrid Study Center Director Vanessa Rodríguez and UCEAP Spain Center Director Laura Marqués-Pascual.

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Faculty Feature: UCEAP Students in Madrid Interview LGBTQ Activist Mario Blázquez

This week’s post comes from local faculty Jon Snyder, who accompanied University of California students on a visit to COGAM, an NGO that advises and advocates for LGBTQ+ communities in Spain. The students learned not only how nonprofit organizations are structured and funded, but also specific ways COGAM works to better the lives of Spanish citizens and spread awareness across the world.

This week, University of California students on the “Negotiating Identities: Gender and Sexuality in Urban Space” program had a productive exchange with Mario Blázquez, an experienced activist and coordinator from COGAM (Colectivo de Lesbianas, Gays, Transexuales y Bisexuales de Madrid). img_20161115_130500Some 50 students interviewed Mario about his volunteer work coordinating health initiatives for the LGBTQ community, one of the organization’s main lines of action along with education and social work initiatives. Mario kindly greeted us at the COGAM headquarters in downtown Madrid before making his appearance before parliament deputies at the Madrid Assembly that afternoon. Continue reading

Celebrating ACCENT’s 25th Anniversary!

October 31st, 2016 marked ACCENT’s 25th birthday! To celebrate, our Study Centers in Europe have been throwing parties in appreciation of 25 years of successful cooperation with schools, students, and our partners abroad. ACCENT Paris’ Lily Mac Mahon describes the festivities that took place at our Paris Study Center.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of ACCENT, and all 5 Study Centers — spread across 4 different countries — have been celebrating! The team and students in Florence got to enjoy some delicious ACCENT-themed cookies and here in Paris, we tucked into a classic French fraisier (strawberry cream cake) and a chocolate layer cake! screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-14-09-44 Before the celebrations began, Ray Vernon, the Executive Director, gave a wonderful speech about the history of ACCENT, from when it started as a small company with only a few programs in Paris and Florence, to its current status as a successful study abroad program provider for schools across America. In a world where learning foreign languages is becoming perceived as seemingly inessential, and people are experiencing fear and uncertainty, Ray explained why it is so important for students to “take back the message that it’s still a fantastic experience and that study abroad is still very special!”screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-14-04-48The celebrations were a great way for our students to get to know the staff and ask them questions about their experiences at ACCENT. When Adrien (our academic liaison in Paris), who started as an intern and has been with ACCENT Paris for over 12 years, was asked to describe the best thing about working at ACCENT, he said: “Having contact with students keeps you young inside; and as a French person, it’s really nice to see the students making Paris their home after only a few months, learning how to adapt to another culture, some actually become quite French themselves!”

During the last 25 years, ACCENT has helped 50,000 students (over 10,000 in Paris alone) facilitate their study abroad experiences and has partnered with over 100 universities on  2,450 programs. In the words of Ray, the ACCENT team would like to “thank all the students from the bottom of our hearts for coming this semester.” This semester, and semesters moving forward, ACCENT is thrilled to continue to support and encourage students in their intellectual pursuits, personal growth and cultural understanding.

~Lily Mac Mahon, ACCENT Paris

Click through our gallery to see how other ACCENT Study Centers have been celebrating our 25th anniversary!

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Students in Madrid Visit the “Centro de Acogida Temporal para Inmigrantes”

In this week’s post, Programs Coordinator Tania Rodriguez from our ACCENT Madrid Study Center describes an eye-opening excursion University of California students took to a local shelter for displaced immigrants. Students had the chance to see how the organization was run, what services they provide, and listened to the residents tell their stories. After visiting the shelter, many of the students came away with a new outlook on homelessness and the economic vulnerability of immigrants.

On October 3rd, Professor Mary Kate Donovan and students from the UCEAP Contemporary Spain Program participated in a study visit to Centro de Acogida Temporal para Inmigrantes San Blas as part of their course “Immigration, Ethnicity and accent-blog-madrid-entry-18-photo-1Nation in Contemporary Spain.” Continue reading