The Spring 2017 is over. Students packed their luggage and said goodbye to Madrid leaving behind five months of experiences, a period of learning and growing as human beigns, a time to remember, a experience that will impact in their future having access to better opportunities with their command of Spanish and their way they manage differences now.
The last weeks of the semester were busy. Personal travels around Spain and Europe, meetings Spanish friends, exploring new areas of the city, last classes and final exams, etc. However, our group of students enjoyed the activities the program offered to them which serve as a nice break of such a busy agenda.
In Bilbao we visited the city and stopped by the Guggenheim Museum. The famous building by Frank Ghery attracts tourists from all over the world and our students were asthonished by the modernity and beautiful looks of the building. Jeff Koons' puppy was the favorite for some of the girls who bougth little replicas in the shop.
Bilbao was a great opportunity to approach to the North of the country, its gastronomy and the Euskera, the official language of this autonomous region.
A tour of the bullring of Madrid was another favorite. Being able to explore on their own the different parts of the plaza was very enjoyable, but even more if a CIEE professor explained the students how bullfight is seen in Spain, the myths linked to the bulls, a the cultural aspects reflected in this contraverted tradition.
The tour not only offered a cultural perspective but also a Business and Legal ones. Bullfights are part of an industry that generates a lot of money, an argument that is is never provided by supporters of the tradition but that it is well consider as part of the tourist and cultural sectors. Students had also access to the views of non-supporters, those groups that fight for animal rights and are against this ancient tradition. Therefore, students could approach bullfighting from a holistic point of view.
The end of the semester means that students need to be prepared for the departure. Madrid Center Director, Dr. Eero Jerurun, provided a lecture on Re-Entry and how to re-adapt to their lives back in the US. Students found specially interesting terms such as reverse culture shock and felt prepare for a process they did not know of before.
Urban art has always been a favorite among the students and thus we invited grafitti artist, Jeosm to teach them the in-and-outs of the urban culture in Madrid. Students loved to hear about how young artists invade the public space, how they create their artistic signature or what the best materials are to work with. To end the workshop, students made their own graffiti, that they dedicated to Madrid, the city that has been their home for the past five months.