Study in Salamanca and travel to Segovia

Weekend travel, soccer, speaking with locals, and riding horses

At the end of the first week of classes, the students seemed to be adjusting well to their schedules, and we can already see improvements in their Spanish. They all looked forward to the weekend.

In the afternoon on Friday we were planning on having an art class, but unfortunately the art teacher had an emergency and wasn’t able to come. Instead, we decided to check out the University’s facade on a guided elevator tour. The elevator is quite an eyesore, making the facade look as if it was under construction.

Once we got an up-close view of the incredible decoration. There were busts of the Catholic King and Queen, angels, mystical creatures, and the famous frog on a skull. The theory is that if a student can not find the frog on the facade, they will not pass their classes because they are not focused on their studies but other temptations. An important lesson for all our students. Also, Nora looked peculiarly alike one of the facade’s female busts. Check out the photo below!

Salamanca has Ghosts?

Later that night we took a tour called “The Ghosts of Salamanca.” We all thought it was going to be spooky, but apparently ghosts was more of a symbolical term for historical figures like Christopher Columbus. The highlights were the underground tunnels, the Salamanca Cave, and the monument whose pieces used to be used as torture devices. On a second visit to the Garden of Calixto and Melibea, Felix and Nora volunteered to circle the well three times to see if the legend of everlasting love is true. Only time will tell. Salamanca may be even more beautiful at night then during the day.

Weekend travel to Segovia

We left for Segovia early on Saturday morning. The students weren’t too excited about waking up so early on a Saturday, but luckily the bus ride was two hours so they had plenty of time to nap.
We met our guide in front of Segovia’s 2000 year old Roman aqueduct. The guide walked us through the old city, pointing out important churches, buildings, and neighborhoods. The grand finale was the Alcazar, a castle once home to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. The castle is supposed to be one of the inspirations for the Disney castle and it’s likely that Christopher Columbus asked the Catholic King and Queen to fund his trip to the new world here.

While we were admiring the castle and taking photos, we noticed a stork on top of one of a tree. We’ve seen the nests everywhere, but never the actual bird. Max D took Marya’s camera just to take close-ups of the stork. While in front of the castle, James asked if the part below was a real moat. The guide explained that while it was a moat, it wasn’t like the movies with water and crocodiles, however one king did have lions in the moat.

Beautiful views of Segovia

Next, the students had the opportunity to climb up the tower’s approximately 160 steps, and were rewarded by a spectacular view of Segovia. Once our tour finished everyone had some free time to explore on their own before we took the bus back to Salamanca. Later that day, the language partners met the students in the Plaza Mayor. Heather told me the next day that she understood a lot more than she did the first session. They’ll be having tapas with the language partners, so they’ll have even more time to practice!

Playing Soccer in Salamanca

Today we took the public transportation with all 30 of us to get to the field where we went to play soccer. Luckily the buses were pretty much empty because it was Sunday. In Spain, they call it football of course, but I’ll cal it soccer in this post so everyone is on the same page. We had the use of a turf field and locker rooms. There were bleachers and some of the locals looked on as we got started. Before our instructors arrived, we did some pre-game warm-ups and stretching. Anais and Sara taught us some ballet moves. Joe, Pearl, and Jordan were the winners of the 4 minute plank contest. For those of you who didn’t know what a plank is, only your arms (from elbow to hands) and toes are on the ground the rest of you looks like a plank of wood.

Our instructors arrived and set us right to exercising. We did a couple of laps around the field then launched into drills. I was surprised at how well everyone was doing, especially those who hadn’t played before. We all had fun lining up to do penalty kicks with one of our instructors as goalie. We then broke off into teams and played a game. Not a full game, but two 20-minute halves. This is where the fun began. Everyone played and was into the game. We had so much fun! All of the students sweat and ran around. They looked forward to half time, but were excited to start the second half. The final score was 4-5 with the blue team winning over the red. Our instructor was the referee and also wore both a red and blue shirt and helped out the teams where needed. Super Guay! Which means “super cool” in Spanish.

Tengo Ganas de Ti, pt. 1

In the afternoon we had free time. Some of the girls had inquired about seeing part 1 of the movie we saw in the theatre “Tengo Ganas de Ti”. It was part 2 in the series. We have other students in our dorm and there are a group of aeronautic engineers on our floor and one of them had part 1 which he lent us. A group of us watched it in the living area. We understood most of the movie and what we didn’t we asked Patricia.

Tasty ice cream & Tapas

I think that the kids all have a ice cream/yogurt addiction. Almost every time I see them at least one of the kids in the group has an ice cream cone or some frozen yogurt. Fortunately or unfortunately I now also the addiction. I have to say both the yogurt and ice cream are SO good! The kids always ask, “Do we have time to get ice cream?” Seems to be a high priority to the students.

In the evening for dinner they went with their language partners on a tapas tour. There is a street in Salamanca where they have several places to get tapas and they were able to visit several of them to try several different kids. Many of the kids said that they loved the food and that they were full. Gotta love the tapas!

Horseback riding in the Salamanca countryside

We traveled outside of Salamanca for about 45 minutes to a small farm with 62 horses and 2 dogs pretty much the size of horses. I don’t think we have the breed in the us but they were both pretty much the size of a bull mastiff. One was especially social and loved hanging out with the group.

We split into smaller groups to ride the horses. The groups that were waiting or had just ridden were either relaxing in the grass, playing mini golf, or frisbee. Horseback riding itself was fun. Annie L exclaimed how beautiful the scenery was where we rode. Annie G. and Amanda were thrilled when their horses started to canter (although Amanda said she was a bit sore today from it). Some students even wanted to ride a second time. All in all, I think the excursion was fun and they had a blast riding horses or was a good time to relax.

We got back just in time for dinner and let me tell you the kids went through all of the food that was in front of them. Who knew that horseback riding could create such voracious creatures!

Welcoming Salamanca 2 group to Spain

After dinner, my group welcomed the ECI group from Salamanca 2 by showing them around Salamanca. We all split up into small groups and took one of the new kids around. When I met them back the square, I think that at least 90% of them were holding an ice cream cone or had just finished one. It does seem that one of the themes for this trip is really ice cream. I had everyone come back early since I knew they were all tired. A great end to another fantastic day!

– Marya Kahan & Kerry Tiedeman, US Leaders

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