Friday, February 27, 2015

One month down...

Guggenheim Museum at night
Just took my final exam for my first class in Spain! I can't believe how quickly this moth has flown by. It feels like I just arrived. I definitely think that these next two months will go by just as quickly as the first.

As I said in my last post, I planned a trip for students to go on to Bilbao Spain in the Basque region of Spain. Including myself, 8 students went. I was very happy at the size of the group and that students actually took the opportunity to go on an extra trip that I planned.

I created an intenary for the students so that they had an idea of what to visit while we were there. The only required activity I scheduled was to the Guggenheim Museum. There was a free guided tour in Spanish, so students got to see the museum and learn the history while still practicing Spanish.

The Guggenheim Museum was incredible. If you ever have a chance to travel to Spain, I strongly recommend putting Bilbao on your list of cities to visit. Guggenheim was unlike any museum I had ever been to. I cannot show you many photos because you are not allowed to take any inside the exhibit rooms. However, the art outside the building is a very accurate preview of the amazing pieces you will see inside. Even if you don't have time to enter the Guggenheim, just walking along the river walk that leads to it would be an experience within itself. Along with Guggenheim, there are various other museums. There are many smaller museums like a museum of Archealogy/Ethnography and a museum of the Basque Region.

El Museo de Las Bellas Artes is another bigger museum that is filled with artwork from almost every century and in every style. It is a beautiful place to visit that you can spend hours wandering around. Each of the museums were not expensive at all. Guggenheim and Bellas Artes was only about $6 for a student while the smaller museums costs less than $2. I guarantee you, each museum was worth every penny you paid.

All in all, I am very pleased with how this trip went. The planning process was very time consuming (10+ hours), but it was worth it in the end. I hope that a weekend trip to Bilbao can one day be included in the WISE Spain Program because I think it would be beneficial for students to experience every region of Spain. Until about 5 years ago, the Basque region of Spain was home to a terrorist group called ETA that wanted the region to secede from Spain. For that reason, it was not deemed as a safe place to travel and was there not included in the program. Now that this terrorist group has all but vanished, it is safe to travel to.

One think to note about this region of Spain is that they do not speak Spanish for the most part; they speak Euskera (basque). This language has little similarities to other languages in Europe. It is very difficult to red or understand even if you speak Spanish. Despite the difficulty, it is a language I hope to learn. Learning a language in turn helps you learn and understand a culture, therefore I think it is important in learning the full culture in Spain. At an outdoor flea market in Bilbao I accidentally bought three of the Harry Potter books in basque because I was in a hurry and did not check them. However, I am going to take it as an opportunity to try to learn basque.

Puppy of Flowers outside the Museum
Besides the trip to Bilbao, life in Spain is becoming more and more natural. I have my daily routine and I feel like my mind is in tune with the lifestyle here. My Spanish has greatly improved in the first month and I am excited to see how far I advance by the time I am done. We hd a final exam today, which, surprisingly, was not difficult. It was the most prepared I have ever felt going into a Spanish exam. 

Right now, I am traveling to London, England for a four day trip. I am extremely happy that I have the chance to go to England while I am in Europe. There are many sites I want to see in London (the Tower of London) and outside of London (Stonehenge). I will also be going to Salisbury and visiting a friend inBristol while I am in England. Next week I will be sure to upload photos of my adventures in England! Tuesday morning, I will be starting my new Spanish class, so this will be a nice mini vacation from classes.

Sending my love from afar,


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