Monthly Archives: March 2016

Ziplining at Tirolinas de Guadarrama

Written by Hannah Barcus ’17 to recount Wednesday, March 17, 2016:

Today we went to Tirolinas de Guadarrama, an adventure park. It consisted of rope courses, ranging from easy to difficult, and zip lines, several of which hung over a huge lake. First, after we put on our harnesses, we went through pre-training. After all of us were able to prove we were ready, we began the ropes course. Unless you were near the front of the line, the wait seemed endless. Once it was your turn, though, the ropes course seemed so quick. Some of the ropes were challenging, but all proved to be fun. I believe everyone can agree that the zip lines were the favorite part of the course. They went at a high speed over a giant lake, and the landings were fun to watch. The adventure park was overall a really fun (and tiring!) experience.

Tuesday at CEM: Dissection and Fencing – What a combo!

Written by Chessie Scott ’17 to recount Tuesday, March 15, 2016:

Today I took one of the few remaining, daily, morning walks to school up the dreaded hill, in the chilly Madrid morning air. At CEM, we enjoyed another school day filled with interesting and different classes. They take many different subjects and we each get to experience a new type of class every day. Today I had Technical Drawing for the first time. I had no idea what it was or what I was doing, but I sat in the back trying to follow along with the teacher. After we attended the first two classes with our hosts, we met for a third class, just Norfolk Academy students with the Science teacher for a hands-on lab class. In our lab class, we not only had the opportunity to dissect a cow heart, but the opportunity to dissect a cow heart with instructions all in Spanish! The teacher was really helpful and good at explaining everything to us slowly so we could understand how to follow the procedure (but for those of us with weak stomachs, all we really noticed was the fact that he was really not afraid to stick his finger right into that Superior Vena Cava and point out the different parts of the heart and their functions). All in all, the class was pretty fun and interesting, despite the smell of chemicals and the bloody lab coats.

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After the first three classes we had a break, which for me was a walk down to the café for a mid-morning snack of coffee and a torija which is a slice of bread dipped in egg then soaked in milk, fried, and sweetened with sugar and cinnamon. Torijas are typically sold in bakeries around this time of the Holy week. After the break, we reconvened in our meeting spot at the library and rested for a bit as a group. After about an hour rest, I attended my first philosophy class per request of Emily, who by now has gone to about ten philosophy classes and really seems to enjoy them. In today’s class they discussed beauty and how they saw it and addressed each of the senses individually and how they could sense beauty that way. I spent a lot of time trying to understand what the teacher was saying, but I was surprised at the end when I realized that I knew what was going on for the entire time more or less! Safe to say, I was pretty proud.

After lunch, we met for a fencing class. We learned the basic steps of fencing before the coach split us into teams to duel it out with our new fencing skills. The class was pretty fun, but guaranteed it was a lot more fun for the students who got to watch us chase each other with blue and red, plastic swords.


It was yet another successful day at CEM but sad to say, one of our last.

Monday in Toledo

Written by Lily Clarkson ’18 about Monday, March 14, 2016:


Like every school morning, we all met at CEM. We left around 9:00 for an hour bus ride to Toledo, our trip of the day. Once we arrived, we took a ride around the perimeter of the city and stopped for a beautiful view. Along with a full view of the city, we also stopped near the old entrance that which had a tall medieval type bridge. After taking multiple pictures, we ventured into the city as a group to visit the large cathedral in the heart of the small city. The cathedral had many intricate details including beautiful gold which Toledo is known for. Next we took a quick walk through the cathedral’s museum where on the way we were able to see the bell tower. After the cathedral, we split into small groups to venture the city and shop. Katie, Molly, and I decided to try to find the Convent of Saint Isabel de los Reyes where we heard there were artists selling and making jewelry, plates, and other handmade objects. Unfortunately, we soon discovered that it was a tourist trap to a gift shop. After taking a quick stop to have a light snack, we ventured to Calle Comercio where there were multiple souvenir and clothing shops, and food. We bought fans, bowls, magnets, and more for family members and then stopped for lunch/snack at 2:45. After enjoying some grilled chicken and French fries, we bought some gelato in a cone and began to walk back to the plaza to meet the rest of the group. While in the plaza, Katie and I facetimed our Spanish class (along with señor)! At 3:45 we left Toledo for the bus ride back to CEM where I am currently sitting right now!

A weekend in Madrid

Our students spent the weekend with their host families, exploring Madrid and its environs. Several students and the faculty leaders traveled to Segovia – a city with a rich architectural legacy, including medieval walls, Romanesque churches, a former royal palace and a Gothic cathedral. Its iconic ancient Roman aqueduct has more than 160 arches, most in the original mortarless granite, and stands above Plaza Azoguejo in the heart of the city. Here are some pictures from various excursions this weekend:

Friday in the outdoors

Written by Sarah Keenan ’17 to recount Friday, March 11, 2016:

Today started out as normal as every other day. It began by waking up, having breakfast, et cetera, but the fun part came after the hour bus ride to the Guadarrama Mountains. Now, we were told we were going to be hiking, but hiking to me is like a flat mapped out trail in nature. If you were like me and thought it would be a nice stroll, you were wrong. The rocky mountain terrain stretched 7,965 ft high and our two hour trek up the rocks made this seem much higher. Our two guides, Felix and Guillermo, led our group of 20 up through the sometimes challenging routes, and back down with only minor scrapes and bumps along the way. After we had reached the top, our journey down was much easier. Following brooks and paths made by the multitudes of people who had trekked the mountain before us, we found ourselves in a small village and only had another “20” minute walk that actually took about 40 minutes for our group to get back to the bus. We stopped for lunch which was nice, and many people made a B-line to the small store there for more water.

After the hour ride back to the school and the naps many of us took, we were ready for the 20160311_152650Poetry and Music concert the school set up. One of the teachers that had earlier joined us at an art museum played a major role in the production, and even sang in the performance. Although only few of us could understand what was being said, it was still a very cool experience to watch and see as the performers took pride in what they had prepared. After the show, many people and their hosts were ready to go home while others still had another class or two left in their day.

The Friday vibe was all around! What a fun day!


Finding our rhythm

Written by Noah Sutton ’17 to recount Thursday, March 11, 2016:


Today, we had our third day of classes at CEM. Many of us started off with physics this morning while others visited a history class. Then, we all had the opportunity to have a Spanish class with señor Enrique Pradas. He taught us much of the language used here in

Spanish class!

Spanish class!

Spain and even prepared a packet for us to keep that had many interesting and useful slang and other commonly used phrases. He also taught us the many differences between formal and informal phrases and questions which is very helpful.

The next part of our day included biology for some while others experienced a technical drawing class. When this class was finished we had a break. Many of us took a trip to the café down the street to grab a snack before returning to the school for our daily meeting for just our Norfolk Academy group. After our daily meeting, around 12:00, we had the option to return to class or stay in the library and work on our own school. Lunch was next at 2:00 and we had different types of soup with some fruit.



Our next planned activity was a Flamenco dance class and that was really fun. For many of us, it really helped us connect with the culture here more because of how different the dancing is here in Spain compared to the dancing in the United States. Overall, it was a fun and interesting day in the life here at CEM!

We hope you are enjoying reading about our time in Spain and we will continue to post more soon.



A Day in the Life of a Student

Post written by Katie Mele ’18 to recount Wednesday, March 9, 2016:

Yum yum!

Yum yum!

Today (after having yet another sugar filled breakfast), we went to school for a second time. School at Colegio Europeo de Madrid starts at 9, but they are never on time, so we always have a chance to meet and talk with new friends from CEM! The first class I attended was an English grammar class where we discussed the similarities and differences between America and España. Maria José, the CEM Exchange Coordinator, was the teacher and spoke to us in all English, so it was a nice break from trying to understand all the other teachers in classes like chemistry, math, economics, art, and history. Santi, one of the CEM students on the exchange, brought up the fact that our modes of transportation are very different because they take buses (or walk) everywhere in Spain, and he found it strange that we not only had the  ability to drive at 16, but that we drove everywhere! Not surprisingly, we brought up the differences in eating schedules, as well as schedules in general– They eat SO late, not to mention about 20 meals a day!!! However, Señora Gorsline said she noticed that the student-teacher relationships were relatively similar which we all agreed on. After this and a technical drawing class, I joined the rest of the group for a Spanish History class. Although I understood absolutely nothing, I managed to get 17th place out of 19 in our Kahoot game after!

Lunch at CEM

Lunch at CEM


Lily playing soccer.

We were given another break so we could siesta or do our homework before lunch, which was actually a very American meal of chicken, fries, berries, and a salad. On our way back from lunch, Lily and I met some of the kids from the younger part of the school, and after speaking with them in Spanglish, we played a soccer game with them for 20 minutes. We had to leave so we could meet up with the rest of the group in our cooking class where we made tortilla de patatas that were very yummy!! We were then dismissed from school, and I am in a movie theater right now with Chloe, Chessie, May, Aina, Paula, Sarah, and Maria watching How to be Single (in Spanish), so I-not so surprisingly-understand nothing… It’s been a great trip so far and I’m so excited to see what the next week brings!


Making tortilla de patatas.

Tuesday, March 8 at CEM

Written by Hannah Auerbach ’17 to recount Tuesday, March 8, 2016:

Today was a semi-typical school day. We all arrived with our hosts to Colegio Europeo de Madrid and then went down to the cafeteria where we were surprised with churros and hot chocolate. They were delicioso.

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After churros we were able to sit in on some classes. Some of the classes are taught in English and some in Spanish. Some of us visited a philosophy class and others sat in on an array of science classes. School is pretty much the same as in America and it is really funny and interesting to watch how everyone interacts. After a lunch that what muy rico we played a game of futbol with the Spanish students.


A friendly futbol match NA vs. CEM

Today was a lot of fun and we didn’t have to walk as much as yesterday which was nice. Later we are going to watch the Roma/Real Madrid game on television which should be super exciting. Hasta luego!

Bienvenidos y Madrid

Blog post written by Emily Mesisco ’17 to recount Monday, March 7, 2016:

Hola de españa! So finally the entire Norfolk Academy group arrived safely in Spain on Sunday morning. We were greeted by a beautiful banner made by the CEM students and a sea of wide open arms and smiling families waiting to meet us. Everyone managed to overcome the jet lag and enjoy a nice afternoon with our new families.


On Monday, we spent the entire day in the beautiful city of Madrid- walking through the streets, talking with our Spanish and American friends, eating the best food, and visiting the most famous sights.  Although everyone’s feet were killing them, it was totally worth it. We started the day with a trip to El Plaza Mayor, the historic square in the center of Madrid; and although we didn’t see the famous “Spydo-Gordo” (a street performer dressed like Spider-Man who frequents the square and has eaten one too many churros), we had a great time.

La Plaza Mayor, Madrid.

La Plaza Mayor, Madrid.

After that we walked to the Puerta del Sol and entered some shops to either eat or buy souvenirs. We quickly learned that “Meet back here in 20 minutes” means “Meet back here in about 30 minutes or whenever you want” in Spanish culture. Eventually we left from the Puerta Del Sol and walked toward the Museo del Prado, taking a quick pit stop at El Retiro- the biggest park in Madrid, which is similar to Central Park in New York.


In the Museo del Prado, we saw famous painting of Goya, Velazquez, and Picasso. After the Museo del Prado we had free time to eat typical lunch sandwiches of chorizo or tortilla de patatas and walk back to the Puerta del Sol. After that we visited the Palacio Real which is the official residence of the leaders of Spain, and the largest royal palace in Western Europe. Then we returned to the bus and drove back to the school, a ride that was filled with a chorus of both Spanish music and snores. It was a tiring yet amazing first full day in Spain, and we cannot wait experience the next two weeks!