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?”
“Somos los Mismos”
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.
Arrival in Barcelona
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!
Off to Barcelona!
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!
Seeing as it is my second week in Spain, I figured it was about time for my second post from Spain! Yesterday, the group and I started classes at the Aula School, that our host students attend. Now what makes Aula different, is that the kids begin there at around 3 years old, and but for a few exceptions, no new students enter at any higher levels. These kids form bonds with their classmates that last their entire childhoods. Not only that, but the Aula School prides itself in its multilingual approach; the kids are taught French, English, Spanish, and Catalan, and have a mastery of all four languages by high school! I find this very interesting and very exciting, since languages fascinate me.
The classes we attended yesterday were conducted in Spanish (except for English class) and I was very proud of myself when I realized I could understand everything, including Philosophy class! I found both the philosphy class and geography class very interesting, despite some doubts I had previously. After school (classes begin at 8:50 and end at 5:30!), me and a few other girls stayed late to watch our girls at basketball practice. The girls I´ve been in close contact with here in Spain all love basketball a lot! My host sister and her older brother Victor, even have a special soft spot for the 76ers!
I was very glad to see some of the group that I hadn´t been able to see last week, at school yesterday, and again today, when we went on a fun, but very, very rainy excursion with the exchange group from Boston which is sharing our time in Barcelona with other students, to the Dali museum and the town of Girona, and its large cathedral. I have lots of pictures and videos, but unfortunatly, I can´t post any without using my own laptop, which still is not connected to wifi. I´ll have to make a special post just for photos and videos when I get the chance! I really, really liked the Dali museum; there were lots of extremely strange things in there, but they were all very interesting and beautiful. The cathedral and the town of Girona were also beautiful, and on a sunny day, it would have been fantastic to walk along the cobbled streets of Girona, up the hills. Unfortunately, today it was raining A LOT.
Tomorrow, we have a half day of school, then we are taking the metro downtown and visiting the MNAC museum in Barcelona. I´m not sure what is in that museum, so that will be a surprise for me.
Right now it is about 5 minutes to 9 and I hear my host mother singing and bustling in the kitchen, which means dinner should be soon. They eat dinner very late hear, almost never sooner than 9 pm, and that is early! It gets hard sometimes to contain my hunger, but usually we have lots of little meals in between larger ones. Today, after lunch, we were lucky enough to find a gelato and gofre (waffle) shop called the Madonna in Girona, and almost all of us got waffles with ice cream and Nutella. Nutella is so delicious! I definitly will be buying some when I get home.
On the schedule for the rest of the week (weather permitting), are Greek and Roman ruins on Thursday, along with a visit to Cadaques, and on Friday, we are going to have a seminar about Picasso, then go to the center of Barcelona, probably by metro and/or bus, tour through the neighborhood of Raval, visit the iglesia Santa Maria del mar, and then the Picasso museum to end the day. The weekend is free to our host students to decide, and from what I´ve heard, Maria has a basketball game on Saturday, and there might be a surprise party on Sunday!
I´m liking Barcelona, my host family, and even classes at Aula a lot and I have definitly become closer with people on the trip, some of whom I never really talked very much to before. We´ve all shared an experience now, and so we can relate to each other in ways other people can´t.
More later (hopefully with pictures and videos!)
Adeu! (that´s Catalan!)