Monday, July 16, 2012

On the Road Again!

This past week had us running here, there, and everywhere!  On Tuesday evening, the group traveled to Almagro to attend a play.  The theater in Almagro is famous throughout Spain for its theater.  We enjoyed a night of theater under the stars at the Corral de Comedias, which is an outdoor theater similar to England’s Globe Theater that was built in 1628 and has been maintained to this day.  Almagro attracts some of the best theater companies in Spain, and we were fortunate enough to see Calderón de la Barca’s famous work La Vida es Sueño.  Seeing this play live could be very easily compared to seeing a Shakespearan play in English – and luckily the students had been well prepared in their classes so that they could truly appreciate the play.  Below you see a shot of the group all dressed up for their evening at the theater and a shot of the Corral de Comedias.

The students were grateful for a late start for classes on Wednesday morning after arriving back from the theater at around 1:30am!  We began the day at 11:00am and the students (and instructors!) were very happy to have more time to sleep and then proceed with business as usual.  Later that afternoon, about half of the group opted to go the movies.  All of a sudden, Friday was upon us, which marked our final whole group excursion to Madrid.  We gathered a couple hours earlier than normal to take the AVE, the high speed train that can reach up to 250km/hr.  We arrived in Madrid’s Atocha station after a one hour train ride ready to explore Spain’s capital city and all it has to offer.  Our first stop would be the famous art museum, El Prado.  Though we could not take pictures inside, all enjoyed seeing the famous paintings of Goya, Velázquez, El Greco, Sorolla, and Ribera up close.

Our next stop would be El Congreso de los Diputados, which can be compared to the United States’ Congress building.  The students were led on a tour of the beautiful building and were allowed to enter the Chamber where the Spanish government does its work.  In the photo below, the entrance shown with lion statues on either side may only be used by the King of Spain.

 After visiting the Congreso, the students were given some free time to explore Madrid.  Many of the students (and this instructor!) indulged in the first Starbucks we have seen since our departure from the States!  We reconvened to experience the subway system and travel to a different side of the city, where we took some outside shots near Spain’s royal palace and explored Spain’s famous Plaza Mayor. 

After an extremely long day of sightseeing in Madrid, we were driven home on the AVE by the host father of two of our students.  The next day, 21 of the 33 students traveled to the nearby town of Manzanares to see a Corrida de Toros to cap off a long but exciting week. 

It hasn’t completely hit home for the students or the staff that here begins some of the lasts of the program.  Today (Monday the 16th) begins or final week of classes, with our final exams and evaluations coming up on Friday.  Our farewell/thank you program will take place in just one week on the following Monday and then we will bid farewell to this wonderful place.  It just doesn’t seem possible that we are nearing the end when at times it truly feels as though we just arrived.  What an unbelievable group of students…. What an outstanding little family we have created…. This instructor hopes these moments will be etched in the students’ brains and that they will endure for many years to come.

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