They speak Spainish in Spain.

Cultural Experiences of International Students in Spain

Archive for the ‘Gabriel St-Maurice’ Category

List of Practicas and Articles

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1- Delicious Account

2- The Group Blog

3- Interactivity

4- Diagram of a website

5- Multimedia Presentation

6- Analysis of a Multimedia Special

7- RSS Feeds


Blog Posts:

1- First Thoughts

2- Related Blogs and Websites

3- Where Are the Real Sports? The Downside of Erasmus in Spain

4- Related Podcasts and Videoblogs

5- Arthur Frommer


10 Things I Learned With This Blog

1- RSS Feeds – I kept seeing the symbol and the name around the net, but I never took the time to figure out what it was on my own. Finally I know.

2- Widgets – Another name I kept seeing around without ever figuring what it meant. Another good thing to finally know.

3- Blogging – It goes without saying, I learned a lot about blogging. I learned how to elaborate my own and how to surf for others; I can’t say I’m now hooked to blogging, but if I ever need to navigate through them again, I’ll know how.

4- Links – I’d seen links everywhere already. But before I hadn’t ever realized the importance of links in an online article; they are fundamental. 

5- Blogging can be influential and interesting just as it can be useless and boring – For every blog worth reading, there are probably two worth being deleted. But that’s the beauty of blogs; the author can write about whatever he wants, and no one can force him to delete it. And the worst part? Somebody will always read it anyway.

6- Delicious, Google Docs, Bubble – All three are useful sites I had never even heard of beforehand. Now I know about them. And I even know how to use them. That could come in handy.

7- How to hit a deadline – I posted the majority of my work after 11pm on the day of the deadline. You could argue it’s either good or bad time management. I say it’s both. Either way, I learned to hit a deadline, and do it just barely as well.

8- The value of written expression and not losing my English – It’s one thing to think or speak, but putting those thoughts into writing is always more difficult. I owe our teacher Rubén one for allowing us to write in English; it’s helped me practice my written English so that I don’t completely lose it.

9- The Web 2.0 – All those websites we’ve all been using turn out to have a name. I know it now, and I’ve had first-hand experience with it. Now I can see features of the Web 2.0 everywhere, and I know – or at least have an understanding of – the use of them.

10- It’s useful to know all these things – In the world we live in today, where the internet is the go-to medium of communication, it is important to learn what we have in this class. 



Written by gstmaurice

November 2, 2009 at 12:08 AM

Posted in Gabriel St-Maurice

Arthur Frommer

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Arthur Frommer’s name is easily recognizable from the hundreds of travel books he has written, and mllions trust his name when planning trips on a budget.




Frommer was born in 1929 and grew up in the height of the Great Depression. He was drafted into the American army during the Korean War and was posted in Europe. Drawing from his experiences in the armed forces, Frommer published in 1955 The GI’s Guide to Europe. It was the first of many travel books he would publish; two years later he would publish a civilian version of the book, titled Europe on 5 Dollars a Day. Though no easy feat, he managed to duplicate the success of his first publication; he would continue to travel and write travel guides, over the years publishing over 350 titles.


Each of his publications covers a distinct country or city; different countries call for a book oriented towards different goals, just as changing social and economic situations call for an adaptation of the themes the book deals with. In this interview, Frommer admits to adapting to the distinct economic landscape we have seen during the crisis, and this attitude has been a large part of his success. In keeping with that attitude, the author offers advice for traveling during the crisis in the following video:

Frommer’s books remain great ressources for the traveler for their portability. For those not willing to buy them, however, the author’s website is a legitimate, if not more comprehensive, alternative.

Guide to Spain

Guide to Spain

It includes everything from trip ideas, to hotel suggestions, to deals, and even to Frommer’s blog.  


1. Of all the places you’ve visited, which one would you most recommend for a student on a budget?

2. Part of studying abroad is always traveling; how and to where would you suggest an exchange student in Spain travel?

3. What places do you recommend avoiding?

4. Your opinion on an issue many students ponder over: Is it better to spend your entire vacation in one place to soak in everything there is to see or to go as quickly as possible from one place to the next to see as many sights as possible?

5. How much do you believe traveling has changed because of the trend of globalization seen in recent times?

Written by gstmaurice

October 21, 2009 at 11:36 PM

Posted in Gabriel St-Maurice

Análisis del especial multimedia San Fermines 2003 de El Mundo.

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Every student who comes to Pamplona for an exchange program knows of the city’s transformation in July from a quiet university town into a mad mass of people celebrating San Fermines. The week-long festival’s history and customs are presented in this Multimedia Document, which also gives the reader advice on how to get around the city.

The document is separated into six sections: Los carteles de la Feria del toro, Crónicas de encierros y corridas, Encierros de ataño, El juego de San Fermin, Para conocer el recorrido, and Un paseo por Pamplona.

The crónicas section provides a calendar of the events, both the encierros and the corridas.



Encierros de ataño is a photo gallery with text that accompanies each picture. The user can jump from any of the twelve pictures in the gallery to any other.

Encierro de ataño

Encierro de ataño

The next section, El juego de San Fermin, is exactly what the name implies. The game involves avoiding the bulls that are coming in from the right. It’s harder than it sounds…

El juego de San Fermin

El juego de San Fermin

The next section is an interactive map of the path the bulls follow in the runs. It is a slideshow that allows the user to move both forward and backward, but only to the next photo. These ten slides offer advice on running in the corridas.

El recorrido

El recorrido

The last section is a simple guide of Pamplona. It highlights the places to visit during one’s stay in the capital of Navarre. But we all know that when one comes to Pamplona at the beginning of July, it’s hardly for tourism or for trying the different kinds of foods…

This document does not use any real-time updating system (RSS) or Web 2.0 features. Despite being published over 5 years ago, the rules of running in front of a 1500 lbs. angry bull haven’t changed and the document’s usefulness remains.

There are many other pages that speak of San Fermines due to its high notoriety around the world. I haven’t, however, been able to find any other multimedia document quite like the one described in this post.

Written by gstmaurice

October 15, 2009 at 6:55 PM

Posted in Gabriel St-Maurice

Related Podcasts and Videoblogs

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Apart from other blogs already describing experiences on exchange programs or  ones giving advice and help on preparing for such a program, expanding one’s search into the video-blogosphere and the world of podcasts yields even more. Videoblogs is an excellent tool for searching videoblogs, as its name implies; while searching for videoblogs dealing with study abroad programs in Spain, I came across a video posted by the International Relations Department of the University of Navarre in which a few familiar faces from last year appeared. As for podcasts, PodcastAlley helped me find what I was looking for. The user first has to download an aggregator, which effectively allows him to subscribe to podcasts. From there it’s easy, as all one has to do is enter the URL of the podcast, and the aggregator does the rest of the work; it will list all past podcasts uploaded by the author, and the user can pick which he wants. It also updates automatically as new podcasts are uploaded by that same author.


The first podcast I found is titled Studying Abroad, which seemed appropriate enough. The author, a student preparing for her study abroad in Alicante, speaks of the necessary research and preparations for spending time studying in a foreign country. She is certainly no professional, as is evident by her sporadic pauses and stuttering; this, however, does not take away from the validity of some of her points. She insists on the importantce of researching before leaving, to know what to bring. She talks specifically of researching weather and dressing habits in the country of destination, so as to bring clothes that are suited for the weather and that will allow the student to fit into the culture. She also mentions looking for a place to live before arriving, something that is facilitated by the internet, and bringing enough money in local currency to last for at least a day. Something that particularly caught my attention was her mention of bringing some type of food from home to help you when you’re having a hard time; if only I could’ve brought milk in my suitcase…

 Spanish Notes is a podcast meant to help foreigners learn Spanish. It has a number of levels; beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Each channel to which the user can subscribe includes over a dozen podcasts; each talks about different aspects of life in Spain as tools to help teach the language. By the time the user reaches the advanced level, each podcast is a conversation between a man and a woman who talk about different issues and topics. Listening to these would help incoming students improve their Spanish and get used to the accent they will have to deal with upon their arrival in Spain.


The following video is a vlog of a student who will be studying abroad in Barcelona. Just like she would in a blog, she shares her thoughts about her experience and keeps family and friends updated through it.

While this last video is not quite the traditional vlog in that it is not a user talking about her experiences, I did find it on Videoblogs. It promotes tourism to Spain, in this case Ibiza. As every student coming to Spain wants to first have fun, then travel, and only then study, tourism maintains a high level importance for students studying abroad. 

Written by gstmaurice

October 14, 2009 at 11:56 PM

Where Are the Real Sports? – The Downside of Erasmus in Spain

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Despite what many believe, erasmus in Spain isn’t all fun and games. In fact, the biggets downside to studying on an exchange program here is just the lack of a certain kind of game: North American sports. On the other side of the Atlantic, football is not king; depending on the region, people’s passion varies from baseball, to American football, basketball, hockey, or, in certain cases, all four. The love and passion we Canadians have for our national sport, hockey, surpasses that of Spaniards for football. We breathe hockey, we live hockey; our great sport is the focal point of many a conversation, and people are often introduced by name and favorite hockey team. While studying here in Spain, what I have missed most from home has not been my mother’s cooking, speaking English, or pasteurized milk; it’s been hockey.

It’s not that hockey is disliked in Spain; everyone loves the occasional fight they see either on youtube or TV. But game broadcasts are more difficult to find than fresh milk. Add the six-hour time difference to that, and watching a game is practically and expedition. Regular season games start at 7pm, Eastern Time. That means 1am Spanish time. That also means the game ends at 4am. Luckily my favorite team plays in the east; were it from the west, I would have to stay up until 6am to watch a game. 

But staying up to watch the games is the easy part. The actual watching part is the difficult task. For that, you need to find what they call a stream, which another internet user broadcasts. HockeyWebcasts is a great source for finding these often illegal stream. It compiles a list of regular broadcasts. The list is not always complete, however; that’s when the going gets difficult and the sports aficionado must do some deep digging. Atdhe is a similar site that provides a list of streams for hockey as well as other hard-to-find sports, as is MyP2P. Streaming sites like and Ustream have come to my rescue in the middle of a intense hockey craving night. In general, the above mentioned sites link to the two latter sites, which are sometimes difficult to search, hence the utility of lists said sites provide. 

So, with a good internet connection, few friends, fewer plans, and an intense desire to watch an event taking place thousands of miles away, it is possible to stay in touch with the North American sports scene. But that would be too easy; streaming is a popular option for many expats and thrifty penny-pinchers who opt for the blurriness of an online stream and therefore slow down the connection. Often while watching game, the stream will lag or stop altogether to buffer. The second problem is streaming’s questionable legality, which periodically leads streams being shut down by a company claiming some violation of some other copyright agreement or some legal blabber of the sort. 

Of course there’s other options out there, if one is willing to pay. The official website of the NHL offers NHL Center Ice, which allows users to watch live games in high quality. For about $150, the user could secure the service for an entire year. But, for those of us studying in Europe, that service is not available. Instead, if we insist on having the highest quality (and legality), we have to sign up Espn 360, an overpriced and unreliable service known for its rude customer service. In view of this, it’s understandable that many opt for a free stream, despite its blurriness. 

Not many people know of these websites; I didn’t when I first got here, and I suffered. Last week, I met someone in my situation from last year. I understood exactly why he spends sleepless nights thinking about hockey; I’d much rather spend those sleepless nights watching it. This great passion we share brought us together, and we now have someone to watch illegal, blurry, laggy streams of games with. Or we could just talk hockey for a few hours over a couple beers. Or over a glass of good, fresh, pasteurized milk, just to combine the two things we miss the most from home.

Written by gstmaurice

October 7, 2009 at 6:44 PM

Related Blogs and Websites

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It seems we’re not the only one not only studying abroad but also writing about it. A quick search either on Google or on WordPress yields a number of results. One blog discusses studying abroad in general, while another discusses Spanish culture compared to American culture; one website presents advice for studying abroad, while another is a resource to help students find programs for studying abroad.

It’s not easy coming to a foreign country, immersing yourself into a new culture; for this reason, blogs like Study Abroad and International Exchange offer advice on studying and living in a foreign country. This blog includes a large number of blog posts (and has received over 1,500 views) and its Links Page offers a long list (so long that it spills over to a second page) of websites filled with material pertinent to a student looking to study abroad; it includes websites with information and applications for exchange programs, websites with job offers for international students, websites with advice for exchange students, and websites for language classes, to name a few. 

Viva España is a much less professional blog, one created by the author to keepher  friends and relatives up to date on her year abroad in Spain. Turns out she will be studying in Pamplona as well, but in the public university. Some of her experiences and observations are reminiscent of my own, and her blogroll offers interesting and helpful websites about traveling and studying abroad. This blog is of special interest to me in that the author is in a situation similar to my own, and the blog is also similar to my own.

SpainExchange is the most complete website I’ve found in terms of advice and help for students on an exhchange program in Spain. It involves everything from academic programs to housing services to travel advice. It also includes an impressive search section that allows the user to find programs for students studying abroad by country, city, and area of study.

Finally, The International Education Site is a resource for searching that, in its own words, is a guide to study abroad information, advice and opportunities for students worldwide who are considering studying overseas. Including university advice, college search facilities, student profiles, and articles from the leading journals on international education. The website puts a number of resources at the user’s disposition for finding the right exchange program for him: the College Search, the Course Center (which provides articles on studying abroad), and the Living and Learning Section. All in all, it is another useful and complete resource for any student examining his options for an exchange program.

Written by gstmaurice

September 30, 2009 at 11:22 PM

Class 3 – Interactivity

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1 – Control – Google

Google allows the user to first select his or her preferred language. By clicking on Search Settings, the user can also decide on settings for the search language,  search filtering,  and the number of search results per page.

This preference page is a typical example of control interactivity in that it allows the user to select his settings.

2 – Feedback – Turbo Chef

This website, an advertisement for the Turbo Chef oven, allows the user to navigate through the website clicking on different types of foods. After a rather long loading time, an infomercial-like video appears in which a chef prepares the food selected. Once it is in the oven, the user can click around to see just how this oven works. From my sniffing around, it appears the Turbo Chef can cook foods up to 15 times faster than regular ovens. Arrows on  both sides of the screen allow the user to browse through the various features of the high-tech oven, each one coming with seemingly more information than the next.

3- Productivity – Amazon

Amazon allows the user to search for and buy products. This website is most known for selling books, but we can find anything from watches and solar chargers to frisbees and yoyos to pet food and costumes.  These products are often hard to find, and often come cheaper when ordered through Amazon. The sellers are also highly dependable. The one catch: high shipping prices. A $10 item can cost $6 in shipping. The trick is then to combine orders, since often orders of over $25 come with free shipping.

4- Creativity – Simpsonize Me

In principle an advertisement for Burger King, this website combines two oh-so compatible loves of so many: The Simpsons and burgers. Here, the user uploads a portrait picture of himself. He is then ”simpsonized”: his skin turns yellow, his eyes get bigger, his teeth get whiter, and his smile wider. The user can then adjust all his facial features, from his hair, to his eyebrows, to his nostrils, to his facial hair; he can also add accessories, including sunglasses and hats.

5- Adaptability – Pandora

Pandora is a radio utility that allows the user to find and play music similar to his taste. A station is created when the user enters one music group of his liking; the station is in principle a playlist of songs similar to the songs of the first group. The Music Genome Project, the engine at the heart of Pandora, analyzes songs based on harmonies, voices, instrumentation, rhythm, and other characteristics. Using its analysis, it can find other songs similar to the first and create playlists, or stations, in the liking of the user.

6 – Communication – Tuenti

The Spanish Facebook, Tuenti follows in Facebook’s footsteps and connects people together. Although the social networking site’s influence has not quite reached outside of Spain yet, it allows users to share messages and pictures, and a recently-added chat function allows users to communicate in real time.

Written by gstmaurice

September 24, 2009 at 6:55 PM