Monday, June 27, 2011

Excursión a Córdoba y Granada

Hillsides quilted with olive trees as far as the eye can see, a whitewashed town flanked by the ruins of a medieval structure perched upon a craggy rock, fields full of sunflowers, modern windmills, scorched earth, snow atop the Sierra Nevada, a land full of contrasts.  As I ride the bus through Castilla-LaMancha and Andulucía these are the images I behold. 

The students were enamored with both Córdoba and Granada.  Both places are inherently beautiful.  The Mezquita and the Alhambra are both works of art.  The gardens at the Alcazar in Córdoba and at the Alhambra are magnificent.  The cathedral in Granada is an enormous structure built largely during the 16th Century.  La Capilla Real, also in Granada, is where Ferdinand and Isabella are buried.  These are the many sights we visited. This is an amazing way to see history.

We returned Saturday evening, exhausted.  I am posting several photos from our visit.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Semana 2

This week has been super busy.  My post on food will have to wait.  The kids are finally adapting to the new routine.  We had to adjust our schedule last week because the Ciudad Real students were finishing their school year.  Our routine for the rest of the summer will be four classes in the morning, lunch at 1:30 and afternoon theater/choir activities until 4 pm.  This does not apply on the days we have excursions out of town. 

We leave for Córdoba first thing tomorrow morning.  We will spend several hours there and then head to Granada to spend the night.  Saturday morning we will go early to visit the Alhambra.  This one of the most beautiful places in Spain.  I will update with photos from the trip upon our return.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

First week

First day of class at the Colegio Salesianos.

On Tuesday (June 14) the students took their preliminary exam.  They will take another exam at the end to mark their progress.  Wednesday was the first day of class.  The class rooms are not fancy, but they are functional and have air conditioning which is a big bonus.  It has not been terribly hot so far, but the heat will come without a doubt.  Generally it seems that everyone is adapting to their new environment and schedule.  Classes begin at 9:30 which is late compared to our normal start times.  Of course, this is necessary because it's virtually impossible to go to bed before midnight here.  Dinner is often at 10 or 11 pm.  This has certainly been a
First day of class.
topic of conversation among the students.  Some like it, some do not.
We had our first excursion to Toledo yesterday.  Everything went without a hitch.  We visited several monuments including: the Sinagoga del Tránsito, Monasterio San Juan de los Reyes, el Museo Santa Cruz, la Catedral Santa María and la Iglesia de Santo Tomé which houses the famous painting by el Greco - The Burial of the Count of Orgaz.  The students also had free time to shop and explore.  Several of them bought knives and a few bought small swords.  Toledo is famous for its cutlery. 

Next week I will post a longer discussion about food.  I love to ask what new foods they have tried and I am always pleased when they are willing to try just about anything.  I personally love Spanish food.

Excursion to Toledo

Toledo  (or "Boy with a sandwich")


Monday, June 13, 2011

Getting to know Ciudad Real

In front of the school.
Today we met in front of the colegio (school) and took a brief walk to the Parque Gasset. From there the students set out on a Gymkhana. They were divided into groups and given instructions to go to various places around the city and take photos of themselves with places, statues, stores, people, etc.  They had two hours to make their way around and then meet with the instructors in the Plaza Mayor.  The goal was to take pictures of all 22 items on the list.  The first group returned having photographed all 22 items in about 1 1/2 hours.  The prize - an ice cream at the infamous Helados Moran in the Plaza Real.  This was a great way for the students to work together and make their way around the city. 

There were no classes today because it is a holiday - the Romeria de la Virgen de Alarcos.  It is a local holiday which is celebrated 50 days after Easter.  The Romeria is when the statue of the Virgen de Alarcos is returned to a chapel of the same name about 8 km away.  She was brought to the church of San Pedro on May 1 and returned yesterday where she will stay until next year.  Some of the kids have gotten to see parts of the celebration. 

Classes begin tomorrow. 

Tambien contentas.

In Parque Gasset, listening to directions for the group activity.

Finding their way.

In Parque Gasset,

Ready, set, go!           

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Settling In

Our travel day went without a hitch. We had a few delays due to inclement weather, but everyone arrived to O'Hare for our international flight. Most of the students were much too excited to sleep. There were two IU groups on the flight, about 60 students. And there was another student group of about 3o. This made for a lot of young people on the flight! There were quite well-behaved. I hope this is indicative of things to come. The weather is perfect yesterday and today. I intend to to enjoy the week of so of cool evenings because I know what lies ahead..... el calor! Even though it's dry, it's still really hot. At least there is little humidity, unlike Indiana. We will have an orientation session with the students on Monday to show them around Ciudad Real a bit. I will post photos then.