Wow time goes by fast! I honestly meant to post a lot earlier, but time flew by and now I’m already back in the United States, taking classes at Westtown. It’s almost frightening how an experience like my trip to Spain can pass by in just the blink of an eye. Indeed, it’s already been over a week since I returned from Spain. In ways, it’s a relief to be done but at the same time I can’t help but feel sad that it’s over. Regardless, endings are a part of life and it is important to note that every ending opens the door for reflection. Continue reading “The End?”
Well, it’s officially been one week since I arrived in Barcelona for my senior project! It’s quite incredible to think that I’ve already spent seven days here, completely absorbed in Spanish culture. How do I even begin to describe all the places I’ve visited, all the things I’ve seen, and all the connections I’ve made? Honestly, I could go on and on, so instead I will try to summarize my experience thus far.
To begin, I -as well as the Westtown group- have visited almost every corner of the city in Barcelona. I’ve learned about the city’s history, seen the cathedral, toured the museum of modern art, and explored a number of the city’s neighborhoods. Tomorrow, we are going to learn about the modern architecture of the city, including the work of Gaudi. Most importantly for me, I’ve witnessed the everyday life and culture of Barcelona. This past weekend, for example, my host’s mother took me out around the city and for lunch I got a taste of Spanish tapas, a classic Spanish dish. They were delicious!
While we were eating, my host mom and I began talking about the differences between the lifestyle of Spain and of the United States. As we noted these differences, we also discussed that, aside from the differences in language and culture, people from the United States are no different from people from Spain. “Somos los mismos” was what my host mom said. In English, this means “we are the same”. Certainly, I’ve heard this idea repeated over and over again in school, but for whatever reason this conversation has stuck with me. Perhaps for me to comprehend this idea it was necessary for me to go away, leaving my homeland entirely and living with a different family. Whatever the reason, my host mother couldn’t have phrased it better. Indeed, my comfort with my host family is a clear indication that, aside from our linguistic and cultural differences, we all share many things in common with one another.
On the days when I haven’t been touring Barcelona and other sites, I’ve been attending classes at AULA. I have to say, things are a bit different from what I expected. After all, when I first arrived, I thought I was going to be able to take art classes such as drawing or photography in school. Contrary to what I thought, there aren’t any art classes at AULA! Students that want to do art have to do it outside of school because there is simply no time in the day for these kinds of classes. As a result, the artistic part of my project will have to be limited to what I do outside of school. I’ve been taking photos with my digital camera, as shown in my last post. I haven’t had enough time to use my film camera yet, but I plan to bring it along for my next visit in the city.
On a final note, the students at AULA are quite kind. This past Friday, we all went out as a class to visit the ruins of Ampurias as well as the small town of Cadaqués. The more time I spend with these students, the more comfortable I’m becoming with speaking Spanish to them. Many people have commented that I speak Spanish really well which has been the quite the confidence booster! Overall, I’m going to miss my host family and the AULA students when we leave for Madrid this coming Monday.
That’s about all for now! I hope to post again soon.
Here are some photos I’ve taken of our visits in Cadaqués and Barcelona. I’ve touched them up a bit and I’m sorry I don’t have more with people!! Thanks to my photo class, I’ve become more focused on taking pictures of my surroundings rather than of people I’m with. Anyway, I will see if I can put up some photos of me and the rest of the group sometime soon. Hope you enjoy!
After a long seven hour flight, we arrived in Barcelona, Spain yesterday around 9:00 AM. Upon our arrival, we met up with T. Jenny who teaches English in AULA. We then had a short breakfast and set off for our first day in AULA. Needless to say, we were all quite tired due to the jet lag and we passed the majority of our bus ride in silence. Despite the fact that I was so tired, I was inevitably captured by the beauty of Barcelona. Along with the beautiful architecture, Barcelona is situated right next to the Mediterranean Sea and thus the view of the city is mesmerizing.
We arrived at AULA around 11 AM and were given a tour of the school by a few students. Immediately, we were immersed in Castilian Spanish. In Barcelona, most people actually speak a mix of French and Spanish which is known as Catalán. Because we have only been taught Castilian at Westtown, the AULA students speak Castilian with us so that we may better practice the language. At first, I had trouble communicating with the students because I was intimidated by the speed at which they talked. Today, however, it was much easier to understand the teachers and the students. I’m still a bit scared to talk, but the more time I spend in AULA the more my mindset shifts from English to Spanish.
In terms of the school, it was a bit strange arriving at AULA. As we stood in the patio waiting to meet our tour guides, all the students stared at us and I could see them whispering with each other. Our tour guides later clarified that these kids were staring because the majority of classes in AULA don’t change very often. Indeed, most students have been attending AULA since they were only three years old. Given our experience in Westtown where classes change almost every year, this idea was certainly surprising.
After the tour and classes, each one of us went home with our host families for the night. Right now, I am a staying with a student whose name is Juan. Juan’s family lives in an apartment more towards the center of the city. Although I am far away from home, I feel quite comfortable with Juan’s family. They are all incredibly generous and in many ways I almost feel embarrassed by how much they do for me. For example, when I arrived here, I realized that I had forgot to buy an adapter so that I could use my electrical devices overseas. When I told this to Juan’s father, he immediately went and bought me an adapter. I couldn’t be more grateful!
After a long day, I went to bed yesterday around 8 PM and I got a full eleven hours of sleep. I’m pretty sure I’m over the jet lag, but I guess I will truly know later tonight. Tomorrow, our group is going to take a break from classes at AULA and we are going to visit a museum and a few historical sites in Barcelona.
I will be writing again soon!
As I begin writing this post, I am still having a hard time believing that this time tomorrow I will be on a flight to Barcelona, Spain. Needless to say, I’m incredibly excited and nervous at the same time. After taking Spanish throughout high school, I’m really looking forward to immersing myself completely in Spanish language and culture.
Specifically, I am going on the faculty-sponsored trip to Barcelona. We will land in Barcelona on Monday and will meet up with our host families upon arrival. We will then take classes at Aula Magna Europea (AULA), a private school that participates in an exchange program with Westtown. Along with taking classes and learning about Spanish history and culture, we will be given the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities; personally, I am hoping to take art classes such as photography and drawing. In addition to visiting historical sites within Barcelona, we will also visit Madrid for our last three days of our trip. We will return to Philadelphia on March 8th.
Through this project, I hope to enhance my Spanish speaking abilities as well as heighten my understanding of Spanish culture and art. I plan to bring my sketchbook, journal, and film camera for this trip in order to fully document my experience over these next three weeks.
With that being said, I’m off to pack again!