Mis Estudios y Excursiones de la Segunda Semana


To start with, I will be posting many more posts soon about my experiences and studies soon, but for now I will focus on my personal excursions and my classes.

Nebrija Main building

To begin, I am taking two courses at Universidad Nebrija, named after Antonio de Nebrija, creator of the first Castilian grammar book, thereby standardizing the Spanish language for the first time. In the mornings, I go to my generalized Spanish language and grammar class, and in the afternoon, I have my Español para la Empresa (Spanish for Business) class. I chose to wait to speak about my classes until I had taken my midterms, and those are what I had last Monday and Tuesday. I feel like the classes that I am taking now are a strong mixture of review and learning new material. Due to the speed of the lessons and the assignments for class, I feel like I am being challenged but not overwhelmed in the slightest. For the first class, midterms consisted of about 6 pages of grammar and creative writing in Spanish, and they do not hesitate a moment to mark off points if a prepositional phrase is slightly off or if a word has subtle implications that lie below the surface which obscure the intent of the sentence. Overall, I love my professors because they have great personalities and each of these little things that they call me out on will improve my skills way beyond simply letting me get away with my mistakes.

My trips

Me sitting next to statues of Don Quixote and Sancho

Now for my personal excursions. During the weekend after orientation and the beginning of classes, my program provided a day trip to the town of Alcalá de Henares. This little city is the site of the UNESCO University of Alcalá de Henares, an extremely old and beautiful university, where individuals like Saint John of the Cross, Antonio de Nebrija, Saint Ignatius of Loyola and many more studied. We were brought through on a tour of the history and architecture of the city and its sites. We saw the replica home, right next to the actual site of the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes. I was able to see some Roman ruins, and I stumbled upon a free outdoor concert where I was able to watch some bands perform in the comfort of some much appreciated shade in a park.

The following day, I decided to take the train by myself to the gorgeous city of Toledo. Upon arrival, I decided to wander for a bit on my own. I ended up attending mass in the Cathedral of Toledo with the bishop of Toledo as the celebrant (as I assumed because of his miter). It was a really amazing experience to attend a mass in such a breathtaking location, surrounded by locals, and celebrated in another language. The style of the cathedral was a mixture of gothic and mudejar, causing a resemblance to the Notre Dame de Paris. Afterwards, I found a small tour that brought me through the entirety of the old city and showed me hundreds of things that I would have missed about the city´ s history that I never knew. Additionally, it was a great chance for me to practice my listening skills as I signed up for a tour in Spanish. Once the tour was over, I toured another recognizable church of the city where I was able to enter into its upper towers and look down upon the entire city. I then wandered out of the medieval city to see the ruins of a Roman circus. As it was scattered about a public park, I was able to get up close to see the architecture and craftsmanship of the arches, and I was awed by the sheer size of it in. While I had seen plenty of pictures and diagrams of what a Roman circus would look like, seeing one in person was a completely different experience, and I couldn’t help myself but imagine what it would have been like to watch a horse race here nearly two thousand years ago. When I arrived back in the medieval part of town, I decided to go to the Museum of Queso Manchego, where I learned about the history of Manchego cheese, how it is made, and the equipment used. At the end, I bought a cheese sampler where a worker gave me a full flavor profile, as well as the history of each item on the plate, and steps on how to eat it and savor it best. Because I still had over two hours to kill before my train would take me back, I decided to let myself get a little lost and wander without any purpose or direction. I ended up in an art gallery where after spending about half an hour taking in all the art, I started a conversation with someone who happened to be the artist of the gallery, and I left the exposition with a piece of his work to remind me of my day in Toledo. The last thing I did before leaving was checking out the Museum of Torture, which I did not expect to be so fascinating and so intimately intertwined with the history of much I had seen. Here, I learned more about the details of the infamous Spanish Inquisition, learned about the procedures of the Inquisition like the autos-de-fé (the public trials of supposed heretics), the causes and effects of the Inquisition, and I saw many of the tools and equipment used in extracting confessions or punishing sinners.

Because there is much more to talk about with my multiple trips, I will save some more stories and information for my next post, which will be very soon.