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July 2 – 12, 2012: Primera Clase August 6, 2012

Posted by luciabird in Travel Log.
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During our first day of class at the International House, we were welcomed with an orientation session to Madrid, the building and its facilities, and the LBAT program in the morning. During our break that divided our five hour class period, we attended a reception that allowed for more mingling of the students with each other and the professor and included the traditional Spanish tortilla (not to be confused with tortillas from Mexican restaurants!), made of   thick egg omelet and potatoes, and various pastries.

Our first class of the LBAT focused on the twentieth century in Spain, as well as its current issues. I really enjoyed the course material, which focused on the Civil War in Spain, the Franco era, and the current times. We learned about these topics by watching Spanish films, like Los Santos Inocentes and Todo Sobre Mi Madre, and then learning and discussing the themes during class. Furthermore, a major component of the coursework and challenge for me was conversations about major issues in Spain with Madrileños; in pairs, we conversed with citizens of Madrid about popular topics in Spain, like the impact of Francisco Franco on Spanish women and the presence of the gypsy population in Spain. My roommate and I were so interested in this topic, in fact, that our final project consisted of a documentary on “La Unión Romaní,” which is an organization of Spanish gypsies to defend gypsy culture and improve gypsies’ standing in Spanish society.

During these first two weeks, we also visited several important cultural sites in Madrid. On Thursday, May 5, we toured the Museo Nacional del Prado, which I absolutely loved. We spent about three hours, which of course was not nearly enough, touring the exhibits on display there; it reminded me so much of the summer I spent traveling with the Oxford program two years ago. The major exhibit there when we visited was Raphael, and, while the tour guide was really informative, I was so appreciative of the knowledge I learned in Art History class during the Oxford program that I could apply to the art I saw at the Prado. On Monday, May 9, we visited the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, which was a museum of modern art. The most interesting piece to me at the Reina Sofia was Guernica by Pablo Picasso, which displayed the massacre of innocent civilians during the Spanish Civil War, which proved to be well timed as we had just studied the Spanish Civil War the week before the visit.

In our wonderful but brief free time, we spent time wandering around our neighborhood and exploring Madrid. My roommate and I spent much time shopping in the fabulous European stores near the Residencia, like Zara and Mango. With many of the other students, I spent an afternoon walking around the Parque del Retiro, one of the largest parks in Madrid. The gelato places in and around the park, which we sampled many times during the first two weeks, were fantastic; I was first exposed to my new all-time favorite flavor, mojito, that afternoon.

 

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