News Letter 2000

Study Abroad in Spain
¡Hola de Segovia!

I absolutely love Segovia! Every day, as I walk to school, I pass the aqueduct. This Roman structure built about 2000 years ago never ceases to amaze me... and my house here is beneath it! Almost all the streets are cobblestone and VERY narrow.  There are some streets that are so narrow and winding that I have no clue how cars can fit through--yet they always seem to accomplish the feat. I feel like I have the best of both worlds here: a small town atmosphere with the excitement of Madrid nearby. I totally love it here and am quickly adapting to life in a new culture.

A little about Spanish universities: you donít have the freedom to pick your classes-- you pick your licenciatura and then about 90% of your classes are determined for you. Studying Spanish and Biology (as I do at Muhlenberg) is virtually impossible for Spanish students. Iím taking Contemporary Spanish Literature, Ecology, animal physiology, and genetics. My favorite class is animal physiology: itís awesome, although the professor likes to put about 10 hours of information into an hour of class. I get a major writing cramp every time I have physio.

In a traditional Spanish university, professors are viewed as gods and students just take notes and absorb the wealth of information, but as a new private university, the Universidad SEK is different. Here, students do interact with the professors in and out of class. I am beginning to make some good Spanish friends. They are invaluable when it comes to explaining things to you. For example, there isnít really homework like we have. You have an exam at the end of each semester and thatís it. Iíll be studying for my exams in June --a lot! ¡Hasta luego!
                        Rebecca Schneider í01 

Madrid:  I

I had always dreamed of living in a foreign city, spending my mornings sipping coffee in a cafe and my afternoons in an art museum. This fall, my dreams were realized when I spent the semester in Madrid, Spain. Life was not as glamorous as I had imagined --I still had classes to attend and papers to write-- but the atmosphere of Spain is something that does not compare to anywhere else. I was surrounded by people who take time out in the late afternoon to take a quick siesta before returning to work, who seem to be more family- and friend-oriented than Americans, and who basically know how to enjoy life.

I had the opportunity to see the aqueduct of Segovia, witness a wedding in a cathedral in Barcelona, take an Art History class where we went to the Prado Museum every week, and live with a host family who took me in as one of their own children. I have returned to the US feeling enriched by another culture and confident that this was the best experience of my life. I have only one real concern about the whole experience: when can I go back?
                        Katie McCleary, Ď01

Madrid:  II

The sweet woman who gave me her family recipe for tortilla española was my neighbor. Rubén Darío was the name of my Metro stop. Juan, Ana, Carlos, Raúl, and Laura were some of my friends, and fútbol --soccer-- was life. During the autumn months that I spent there, Madrid was my home. Study abroad in Madrid was the culmination of years of study of Spanish language and culture. No classroom, however, could have ever prepared me for the incredibleexperience. Educationally, the most important thing that I gained from the semester was confidence and competence in speaking Spanish. Personally, the memories of the people and places of Madrid are what I value the most.

I really knew that I was not in the U.S. anymore on Thursday, November 25th. In my family Thanksgiving is a really big deal with lots of family, food, and football. This year, though, turkey and stuffing did not cross my mind: I was snacking on manchego cheese and red wine with my friends. To most of my dinner company it was just another Thursday, and the only big news was that Real Madrid had a big game against Fútbol Club Barcelona coming up. Of course I did all of the big cultural stuff like the Prado, a bullfight, the royal palace, and a flamenco show, but the best cultural experience was participating in what I was surrounded by daily. I miss the city more than I ever imagined possible, but am content with the fact that while there I truly made Madrid my home.
                        Jo Buckley, í01

 Back to Main News Letter Page.