Monday, June 24, 2013

Dear families,

This week has been tranquil and enriching.  Without any major excursions, we have had a chance to better acquaint ourselves with Ciudad Real and the simple pleasures that surround us every day.

On Monday, we awarded  Dylan, Tommy, Zin and Lina, the winners of last week´s scavenger hunt, incredible prizes!

We also divided into two groups for afternoon activities.  Students chose between Choir and Dance or Theater.  For the rest of the program, they will be getting ready for the Farewell Show for their Spanish host families.  In theater, some students will be performing published works written by Spanish speaking authors, while others will try their hand as playwrights, and others as directors. 
 Here Kaydee and Megan collaborate ideas for their original works.

 Rebecca and Julia along with the choir become acquainted with the Spanish lyrics to new songs,

  while getting creative ideas from music videos.

 John and Mary Kate have just read through the scripts for the first time in their new roles.

On Wednesday, many students opted to go to the movies as mini mid-week excursion.

Some things aren´t that different from home, after all!

Patrick and Tommy investigate the concession stand...

Along with Lindsey, Hope and Mary Kate.

This week, students have been thinking of designs for our Ciudad Real t-shirts. Here Bridget works on her submission.

We continue to have sports sessions on Thursdays.  Katie and Claire are doing a great job staying hydrated!





On Saturday, students had a chance to go on a guided tour of Ciudad Real.  Those that chose to come along  learned all about the history that surrounds them every day.  Hannah, Allyson, Lindsey and Alexis gather in front of the town hall before the tour begins.

Our tour included three churches.  Here the group gathers in front of and enters San Pedro, constructed (poorly, they say) in the fourteenth century.

The oldest church, Santiago, boasts a mudejar art that for many years was covered by a false ceiling.

Zin and Erica send their greetings from in front of the organ.

The last church, Catedral de Nuestra Señora del Prado, was also the youngest, constructed in 1531 to honor the Virgen Mary, who according to legend, appeared on this site in 1088.

After the excursion, students returned for the siesta and the big meal of the day.  Other students spent time outside of Ciudad Real, on short trips with their Spanish host families.  Some went to the river in small neighboring pueblos,  others to Madrid and others to Toledo.  This week we are going on our overnight excursion to Córdoba and Granada.  Look for exciting updates from Andalucía!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Welcome back, Parents,

Greetings from sunny Ciudad Real.  This weekend, students have been spending time with their host families and exploring the city and Spanish culture- but not before several adventures as a group!

Thursday afternoon, students enjoyed their first sports and recreation class, showing off their skills in soccer, volleyball and basketball.

After, the group cooled down with ice cream as we celebrated birthdays for Tori, Amy and Eric.

Early Friday morning, we boarded a bus bound for the historic and hilly Toledo. An hour and a half later, we arrived at our first stop: a vantage point at the city's apex, overlooking the Tajo river and  all the lands we were about to explore.

From there, the bus dropped us off outside of the city, and we crossed the San Martin bridge towards  the Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes.  Built in 1476, this Franciscan monastery represents a mix of gothic and mudejar architecture. It is perhaps best known for its beautiful cloister.

From the monastery, we made a trip to the Sinagoga del Tránsito, also known as the Sephardic Museum.  Sephardic Jews are those descendants of the Jews expulsed from Spain in 1492 by the Reyes Católicos (Fernando and Isabel). 
From there, students had time to explore the city and eat the sandwiches that their host families had packed them.  Toledo is also known for its swords, which many students bought as souvenirs. 

 Getting around in Toledo certainly proved to be different from getting around in Indiana, with its narrow, winding streets and steep inclines.

After lunch, the group met up and visited the Museo del Ejército, or the Armed Forces Museum, where students were able to learn about different swords, rifles, and armor, as well as see vestiges of the old alcázar, or an old fortress that dates back in part to the Roman empire. Here they are in front of the alcázar, and later we have a picture from the interior courtyard.

To better reflect the three cultures that coexisted in medeival Spain, we visited the Cristo de la luz Mosque  which dates back to the tenth century, and which was later reappropriated by the Catholic church during the Reconquista.

A group of brave troopers, defeating the sun and hills!

The most awe-inspiring visit was saved for last. Here we pose outside of the breathtaking Toledo Cathedral.

We then made our final trek to the bus, and arrived back to Ciudad Real around 8pm, all of us tired from twelve hours of enrichment.  Since then, students have enjoyed time with host families.  This week we look forward to cooler temperatures with highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s.  Students will have optional trips to the movies and a guided tour of Ciudad Real, and will begin their classes in theatre or choir. Until next time!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dear Parents,

It's hard to believe the whirlwind of activity we´ve all enjoyed in but a few days.  Monday afternoon, students stepped off of the bus from Madrid into the excited embraces of their Ciudad Real host families. We were all surprised by the weather, which was pleasantly cool, clear and sunny. Never fear: for those students who eagerly awaited summer heat, the temperatures have since been climbing to highs in the low nineties, and lows in the sixties. 

During Monday afternoon and evening, students spent time with their host families.  Many students started right away with a homemade Spanish meal, and a tour of their new homes.  Several families took their American "sons" or "daughters" on a walking tour of their own section of the city.  Many students chose to conquer their jet lag and elected to stay awake the entire day, while others took advantage of the Spanish siesta, or the afternoon hours in which families retire to their homes during the hottest hours of the day to eat and rest (around 2-5 p.m.), before returning to their jobs in the evening (between 5-9 p.m.).  The following day,there were many happy reports from students who had slept soundly through the night, and many happy faces gathered in front of the Colegio Salesiano Hermano Gárate, the facility in which classes are held.

Tuesday morning, host families helped students arrive to the school, where students spent the morning taking the first section of a standardized test, whose counter part at the summer´s end will measure individual student progress.

After the exam, students had their first real cafeteria lunch, below is a picture from Wednesday, where the menu consisted of bread, potato salad with tuna, watermelon, Spanish empanadas, salad with vinaigre, oil, and olives, and even a taste of the internationally infallible chicken nugget.

Tuesday afternoon, students and instructors reconvened in the Salon de Actos, or a large auditorium with a stage which will later be the location of the summer farewell performance, in which students will show off their diverse talents as a thank you to their host families.  For now, it served as a place to review the Honor Code and to have our first meetings with support groups.  Students gave short presentations of different aspects of the Honor´s Code and later in their respective groups, talked about their personal experience abroad, so far.  Don´t forget: your son or daughter has been speaking Spanish -and only Spanish - non-stop! Everyone is doing a wonderful job.

Wednesday morning, students attended their first classes: Communication, Culture, Literature, and Grammar. In the afternoon, the group divided into teams and explored the city on a photo scavenger hunt.  Here everyone is enjoying the sun after lunch in the cafeteria:

The rest of the week promises to be full of activity as we get ready for our Friday day trip to Toledo.  Look for an update on Monday!