Highlights from Princeton in Spain 2014
Students Share Their Stories
“I asked the students in SPA 310S to write journal entries recording their personal reactions to their most interesting, puzzling or significant experiences in Spain. They had to to reflect about their fears or expectations, their rewarding or frustrating experiences or findings, their cultural and linguistic observations, etc. From the onset, class diaries became an invaluable record of my students’ cultural learning and their impressions of a new environment. Very often they gave us an opportunity to bring into the classrooms questions and observations that otherwise would have probably remained unvoiced.” - Alberto Bruzos, Director of Princeton in Spain
Lydia Cornett '16
This weekend, I had the opportunity to visit Madrid, the capital and largest city of Spain, for two days. To me, Madrid is like the New York City of Spain -it has all types of people, all types of place to go, and is constantly bustling with activity! The architecture of the buildings in Madrid is an unusual mix of old and new -for example, in the Puerta del Sol, old, grand buildings like the Post Office or the famous Tío Pepe sign sit right next to businesses like Starbucks or McDonalds! Although it has a modern infrastructure, the historic feel of the city is very well-preserved.
I think I got a great taste of both the cultural and political atmosphere of Madrid in just two days. For example, in visiting the Museo del Prado and the Royal Palace, our class got a feel of the incredible amount of history -both artistic and political/ceremonial- that Spain possesses. The Royal Palace was extraordinary. I couldn't even begin to fathom the amount of rooms, staff, and history in the Palace! Although I loved the beautiful chandeliers and grandiose decor of many of the bigger rooms, my favorite room was one that was home to four Stradivarius violins: 16th and 17th-century violins known for having the best sound in the world. In the magnificent Buen Retiro park, I saw just how diverse Madrid really was -there was everyone from a Malaysian street artist to a Ukranian ice cream vendor to an American family in a paddleboat! (In this park, we also ran into a Princeton family -the Dad was class of '80 and the son had just graduated- which made me appreciate how small our world is!) Finally, when we walked back to our hostel, we got to see an organized anti-monarchy protest. It was quite interesting to see this demonstration, especially with the recent abdication of the king. The protestors were pursuing a referendum that could abolish what they saw as an outdated system.
Vira Tarnavska '17
Kamber Hart '16
This weekend was unreal. Saturday we took a tour of Madrid and while we were driving around I couldn’t help but notice that Madrid is almost like a cleaner and more beautiful NYC. Even though Madrid is much older than NYC, all of the areas that we toured seemed newer and much better maintained as compared to New York. I don’t know if it is because people have more respect for the city or just because the streets are wider and the sidewalks larger. It could also be because they clean the streets every day or because much of the city had to be reconstructed after the war. Regardless of the reason, Madrid is a beautiful place and a spectacular city.
Jeremy Zullow '17
Jennifer Liu '16
I would have to say that one of my favorite parts of the trip was my homestay. It was such an incredibly valuable and special experience. I feel like I have made a connection that I will have for the rest of my life. When I left their home, my homestay family told me and my parents that we should come back, stay in their home, and travel throughout Europe. My parents told my homestay family that they should come to the US and stay with us. I hope that one or the other happens!
I cannot believe how much my Spanish has improved! For me I could really tell during our final ethnography presentation. For this presentation since I was a little short on time I did not plan out what I was going to say as carefully as I usually do when I don't want or stumble over words. However, I found that I was able to talk more freely and improvise more in Spanish which was a new experience for me. Also, I could tell today and yesterday when I was having conversations with taxi drivers and waiters in Madrid that I am much better at conversational Spanish now.
Erika Kirgios '17
Today felt like a love song to Toledo. Before meeting my mother, I walked around the city by myself for a bit to say goodbye. The city felt mine, I belonged and I was no longer a tourist. It was a bittersweet moment because until then I had still been in the transient state of almost-gone-but-still-here which made me feel as if the program were not really over. I can’t imagine not coming back, though: this city means so much to me that I have to share it with those I love. Taking my mother around today was wonderful, showing her the Fund and the places that meant so much to me, from the beautiful Catedral de Toledo to the little street corner in front of Navarro where I sat with Rebeca and Ramie for an hour just talking.