Hello! The second month in Spain has flown by. The second month has been the most fun by far. Leading into your second month you finally get comfortable with knowing your way around the city, the classroom is more lively, you get into a routine at home, and you have Semana Santa and your last set of excursions! By this time of the year I noticed myself not noticing that I was in Spain. Your everyday duties seem routine and you start to feel like its any normal day. In saying that the second month is also very exciting.
This program comes with a handful of included excursions that you sign up for the week before departure. DO NOT WORRY!! There is not a maximum number of students allowed to go on each excursion. The sign up is to make sure they have the proper amount of busses. In the last post I talked about the first week in Madrid. The other excursion sites include Gibraltar, Cordoba, Granada, Lisbon, Toledo, and an optional trip to Morocco. I could sit here and talk about each place forever but I am going to summarize the experience shortly and leave the mystery and detail for you to discover.
We meet up in the morning around 8am on Friday. Everyone piles on the bus and tries to get there own double seat. The rides are sometimes a little bit long but the bus drivers are obliged to stop about every two hours, giving you time to eat and use the restrooms. Upon arrival you wake up to ISA voice over the microphone giving you a quick tour guides summary of the area and what the itinerary for the day is. If you weren’t already in awe by the beautiful farms along the highways to all your destinations you will truly be in awe when you get to your location.
We usually bring everything to the hotel first and get some time to settle in or we will do a shorter walking tour first and then check into the hotel. The first day is a little more laid back with time to recover from the bus ride. Each city is unique and beautiful. You would be surprised how many cathedrals you can see without getting tired of them. Saturday and Sunday are walking tours and on Saturday, again, you get free time for lunch and can go out for dinner. Breakfast is always included and always very good from the hotels. The walking tour Sunday is about half the day and the other half you are on the bus coming home.
Trust me! The locations are all truly beautiful and all have different quirks so that you never feel like you are seeing the same thing. You may even get to feed a monkey, watch a flamenco performance, and eat at some of the coolest pubs and restaurants around Spain!
In the Class:
To start off I want to say that this is my opinion and experiences with the classroom and teachers. Don’t be alarmed. It is not bad. The teachers here are a little different from what you may be used to back in the US. I actually have the same two teachers for five classes so my experience may be limited. For one the classroom atmosphere is much different. Professors dress fairly casual. They wear jeans and other casual clothing. You will not see many, if any, shirts and ties. They also expect you to participate more in class. There will be plenty of time for discussion and you may have to get up and introduce yourself and tell a joke. The language and relationship between professor and student is also much more casual. You are expected to write formally but discussion is just casual discussion. The professors would rather discus the topics than run through the slides all day because courses last two hours.
There is a lot of material to get through in class because the semester is short. It helps to do readings prior to class or gloss over slides so the professors do not have to waist time on them. The workload is manageable with the amount of traveling you will be doing. The program is reasonable and should not interfere with travel plans because there are no classes on Friday. Other than the previous, school is school. If you complete your projects and study for tests you will do fine. Just remember the grading system is 1-10 and a 5 is a C letter grade. Scoring 9-10 is very difficult.
Charleson (Mick) Pernell