Celebrating 4th of July in Salamanca

Feeling at home while studying abroad in Spain

After classes on our second day in Salamanca, we took a formal tour of Salamanca led by our local leader and yours truly. We began in  Plaza Mayor, describing the architecture and pointing out busts of important writers, explorers, kings, and dictators which are on the square’s columns. While I was doing my spiel about Franco and Spanish history, I asked them what they knew about the civil war, and Patrick and Max knew quite a bit. Definitely more than I knew at 16, so I was very impressed.

La Casa de Las Conchas

On our tour we also passed “la Casa de Las Conchas,” a house covered with “Conchas” or shells, the Jewish neighborhood, and the Garden of Calixto and Melibea. The garden is a very romantic place and its name follows the idea that the tragic love story was set in Salamanca and therefore the garden was where the lovers would meet in secret. When I told the group that there would be something special in the garden’s well, Anais guessed correctly that there would be locks with lovers’ names on them.

Salamanca’s beautiful cathedral

The last portion of the tour involved climbing  up the tower of the cathedral. There was a spectacular view of Salamanca and the students were able to see how small Salamanca is and its surrounding countryside. There were very short doorways in the passage ways of the tower and Felix asked “Were people just really short back then?” We decided to do an experiment to see how many group members could fit underneath the doorway without crouching. We have the photo below of those who would have had no problem fitting in during the 17th century (Monique, Zoe and our trip leader, Marya). No wonder we have trouble spotting Marya on our forward marches.

Independence Day abroad

Wednesday was our Independence Day! (Oh say can you see…) While no one cares here in Spain we still do! The students, especially the girls, are dressed in red, white, and blue. Tara, Zoe, and Eena all wore shirts with the American flag proudly displayed. I asked them if they had planned it, but Tara told me she bought her blouse here. I guess the American flag is a popular design here. Can we blame them?

Introduction to Spain

Today after class, we had a special seminar: “Introduction to Spain.” Jorge, one of the teachers at Mester, gave a fantastic presentation on the different languages, regions, culture differences, and stereotypes in Spain. He also asked the students questions about their first impressions all in Spanish. When Jorge asked how tall a bull was, Pearl had the answer! Jorge’s students are very lucky. He speaks clearly and his voice carries.

Movie night in Spain: Tengo Ganas de Ti

After the seminar we had to hustle to the cinema because we had tickets to see a Spanish film, “Tengo Ganas de Ti.” Translated to English it roughly means, I desire you. It was a teenage love story with some action scenes. The main characters enjoys racing motorcycles. His friend has died racing motorcycles (good lesson) and he has to choose between two love interests, his first love and a new love. Everyone was really confused, but not because we didn’t understand the Spanish. Only after the film, did Patricia tell us this was part 2 of 2 parts. “Ohhh!” Marya and I didn’t realize that there were three girls, not two, until halfway through the movie. But the students loved it!!!! I’m sure it didn’t hurt that the main character was really good-looking.

We were already late for dinner so we ran back to the dorms to eat hot dogs and “freedom fries.” Also Max H made more apple art. We shared some photos of his creations below. At 10 we went to the Plaza Mayor to light sparklers. Unfortunately, no real fireworks this year, but we took photos and it was a sweet little celebration. An American woman came up to us afterwards and said that she watched us from a restaurant. We are hoping that they won’t be too homesick for what some call their favorite holiday. Los Estados Unidos hurray!!!

– Kerry Tiedeman, Assistant US Leader

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