Quod natura non dat, Salmantica non præstat

Oscar Rollán:

Before I add the texts from our students I just want to say that this trip to Salamanca has been quite special to me. Not only I had the opportunity to show the students my hometown: the places where I studied and I used to go, the history and beauty of this city. But personally, to me, it was great that the group got to know one of my brothers and also my dad, the real señor Rollán. My mom could not make it because she was not feeling well, but at least my dad met the students for a bit. And that to me, was quite special.

Walking on a Roman bridge

Anoushka:

To start off Kaitlin and I woke up and got dressed and went to our other friends’ room.  We then met up with the group downstairs in the lobby and went to breakfast. Señor Rollán took us on a tour of Salamanca which was so awesome! We got to see the Casa de la Conchas which was so beautiful, and we also went inside two cathedrals, the old one and the new one. Yes, Salamanca is so special that it has two cathedrals. We climbed several stairs and went up to the top of the bell tower! After that we had free time so my group and I went to lunch. We then walked around Salamanca and went to different stores which was so fun! After that, we met up with the teachers because it was time to leave, which I was bummed about because I loved Salamanca!  After that we went home with our host families.

The Old Cathedral
Altarpiece in the Old Cathedral
The organ in the New Cathedral

Kaitlin:

We spent most of our day in Salamanca. Oscar was able to give us an insider tour of the city and took us to all of his favorite places. Some of the coolest places we went were to the top of the cathedral and inside the historical Universidad de Salamanca (both Robi and Oscar attended!) After a three-hour bus ride and a quality siesta, we arrived back in Madrid and ate dinner at Vips. I love being around our group and catching up with our host students was a lot of fun.

The group with the statue of Lazarillo de Tormes. After reading the book, it was great to be at the place where the story took place in 1550!!
At the top of the Old Cathedral
There is an astronaut in the New Cathedral
Students at the Universidad de Salamanca
And professors 🙂
Reunited

“Salamanca, que enhechiza a voluntad de volver a ella a todos los que la apacibilidad de su vivienda han gustado.” Miguel de Cervantes

Christine:

As for today, we came to Salamanca! We first stopped by Avila, went around and inside a beautiful palace and the walls. One thing that I found interesting was the Braille — a system that uses combinations of raised dots to spell letters and numbers — and the model of the architectures that were written or presented on almost every description plates. I found it so considerate and creative because I never saw a tourist place with the Braille system on consistent use. 
After visiting the walls, which had so many steep stairs which Robi and all of us had trouble with, we came back to the bus and headed to Salamanca. When we arrived, we first checked into the hotel and I started researching places around our hotel so that my partner — Jolie — and I could have some food. We ended up going to a restaurant nearby with other members of our SEK IM group, which was very nice!! 

At the top of the medieval wall!!

We then wandered around the city, took bunch of photos, and started shopping. Many of us bought souvenirs from the Salamanca University. I bought two hoodies and customized them: one with my name and the other with my friends name on it for gift. It was then close to our meeting time, so all of us headed towards the plaza where we planned to meet. 
To be frank, the plaza with the lights on at night was the most beautiful and dazzling view ever. Oscar, our best tour guide, then helped us learn more about the city and the historical significance of certain buildings around the plaza. I am super excited for tomorrow and for the remaining few days in Spain!!!
Sincerely,

Christine Park

Jolie:

Today we went to Avila and Salamanca! The bus ride from school to Avila was around an hour and most of us slept on the ride. At Avila, we visited the palace and climbed up one of the towers of the walls. My favorite part was when the tour guide told us a story. The men left the walls to fight, so the old, women, and children were left inside the walls. An army attacked Avila thinking that there wouldn’t be anyone there. To scare them off, women and children were dressed in armor and carried torches and were stationed outside the walls to show a powerful army. They successfully managed to intimidate them. In Salamanca, my friends and I ate near the hotel and tried out some new foods. Then, we went shopping for clothes and I bought a University of Salamanca sweatshirt. At night we met at the Plaza Mayor and walked to the University of Salamanca for a tour with Señor Rollán. The tour was fun and informative and we spotted a frog and an astronaut hidden on building decorations. After that our group split up again for dinner and my friends and I had pizza and hamburgers! The pizza had a lot of cheese and it was really good but too much for me to handle. Overall it was an enjoyable day 🙂 

El miércoles, es un gran día para planear tu jueves y viernes.

Julia:

To begin the day, two other Porter’s girls and I went to biology and math class at SEK El Castillo! These classes were so interesting to spectate, as they are much different from Porter’s.  It was fun to follow along because all three of us have taken biology and the level of math taught in the class.  We also had some really nice conversations with some of the students, sharing experiences from our schools.  Later, we joined our host students and the rest of the Porter’s group for a workshop led by teachers from Porter’s, Sam Ahn and Kathryn Simison.  We helped our host students form a solution to a global problem that is also personal to them.  My host student and I thought of ideas to prevent the waste and consumption of plastic bags.  After this, our host students gave an elevator pitch about their solutions.  In the midst of all of this innovative thinking, we were able to play a few fun games of Pictionary and Hangman.  To end the day, we did an exercise where each person shared something nice about someone else in the group.  Everyone was so uplifting and kind! This was our last school day at SEK El Castillo.  I am so excited to explore and travel more around Spain!   

Sam:

For today, it was our last school day for the rest of the trip. During school, most of us attended classes such as biology, lengua, history and much more. (Lots of them were doing their final exams or projects.) We weren’t with our host students for this part, but then when we attended the workshop they were at, we hung out with them. At this workshop, we helped them write and present their elevator pitches. (Before this, they’d been working on finding a problem and putting forth their own solutions, then applying a business aspect to it.) Now, back at our host students’ house, at least for me, we’re doing a homework assignment on a famous Spanish saint before our trip, and watching some more Harry Potter! (Hopefully, we can watch a famous Spanish series called Money Heist before we leave as well.)

En martes, ni te cases ni te embarques, ni de tu familia te apartes

Mariela:

Today we had a packed schedule! We went to our host student’s classes and then experienced a workshop with our host students led by Porter’s very own, Sam Ahn. In the workshop, we learned about app development. After school, Micaela and I had a snack and hung out. I’ve introduced her to one of my favorite shows, Love Island UK! We love comparing our different experiences with the Spanish language ( I am Puerto Rican, she is Peruvian, we are in Spain!), practicing our British accents (after watching Love Island UK), and cracking jokes. I have almost gotten used to wearing a skirt to school every day as the girls do at SEK El Castillo. I think I look quite cute in my uniform! I am looking forward to getting to explore more of Spain outside the school setting on our excursions to Ávila, Salamanca y Toledo.  

Ava:

Today was so fun! I was in the same classes as Mariela so it was nice to get to talk with her about her experience so far. In addition to getting to observe some of the SEK classes, we got to spend the afternoon with our host students in a Porter’s design workshop! For a certain contest, my group won with a prototype we used to portray our idea for a product. It was really fun to collaborate with each other and apply the skills we learn at Porter’s in different places. When we got home, Sam and I were so tired we decided to spend the evening with our host student playing card games and eating fuet (a Spanish cured meat that is soooooo good!). I am really looking forward to the rest of the week and for excursions!

Las mejores semanas comienzan con un lunes

Anoushka: 

To start off I woke up pretty early this morning because we had school today and when I got there I followed my host student’s school schedule because our host students were at the workshop.  Classes were fun and I had friends in my classes with me which made it easier and more fun and I connected with other students in class from Spain. Something that surprised me was that in the classes the teachers spoke English for the most part which made it easier to understand what was going on.  My favorite class that I sat through today was biology because the teacher was really nice and the class itself was really interesting! After some classes, we went to lunch and saw Mr. Rollan and Robi which was nice. Before our Porter’s meeting all the host students and the Porter’s girls talked and connected with each other outside until it was time to go upstairs.  My favorite part of today was classes and having a meeting with our Porter’s group. I enjoyed this because we all got to connect and share our different experiences with the group and talk about how Spain is going for each of us. I also just really missed the whole group being together and it was nice to hear about how everyone was doing and I liked sharing what was on my mind with the group.  After that, I and some friends went to the library and chilled and talked which was really nice after a long day of school. I then went home with Laura my host student! Today was really fun!     

Kaitlin:

Today was the second day of attending classes at SEK in Madrid! Since our host students had workshops all day in order to complete certificates for Miss Porter’s, Jolie, Julia, and I attended some of the SEK classes together. The school day is very different from that at Porter’s! Classes begin at 9:30 and end at 5:30. Mealtimes are also different, with a snack at twelve and lunch at three. My host parent helped me with the adjustment by making us “tostadas” in the morning and getting us “tortitas con chocolate” after school. All of the students at SEK were really friendly. It was funny that many of them were interested in American culture and others wanted to practice English with us. Overall, I am having a lot of fun and look forward to exploring Spain and spending more time with my host family.

Domingo de gloria

Christine:

Today is January 12th of 2020 and it has been one of the best days ever! My host sister, Alba, and I went to so many beautiful places in Madrid! We first started our morning by going to a local cafe. In this cafe, Alba and I ordered some sandwiches with Spanish ham: a whole new experience for me. It was amazing. 
We then went to the main plaza to go shopping for around two hours. After that, we had lunch at around two pm. For this meal, we had the Spanish omelet (my new favorite dish) which has patatas in it! Next, we walked around the street for around another thirty minutes. 
We then took a taxi to the Royal Palace de Madrid — which Alba has never been to either. The palace was one of the most beautiful architectures I have ever seen in my whole entire life. We not only took so many photos but also took everything into our eyes. The ceilings were carved and decorated with gold images and the chandeliers were glossy and glittery just as if they were stars. 
At the end of the day, Alba and I got a taxi back to her casa and worked on our homework for a while. We then had dinner at nine pm and watched TV for a bit as we talked about our interests and programs like the TIE certificate.
I am enjoying all aspects of this trip — even though I am still quite jetlagged because I came straight from Korea on the 11th — and definitely do not want to leave this place 🙁 Love españa and love intermission!!

Jolie: Today I went to El Escorial with my host student. El Escorial is a monastery, basilica, royal palace, pantheon, library, museum, university, school and hospital and was an old royal Spanish place. There were many beautiful artworks there but unfortunately, we were not able to take pictures of them. The artworks were very colorful despite being there for so many years. It was cold inside and outside the buildings. After that, we had lunch. One of the dishes we ordered that I really liked was called La Berenjena. It was fried eggplant with sweet brown sugar sauce and it was delicious! At night, I went ice skating with my host student, Julia, Kaitlin, and their host students. We skated for around an hour and then had dinner. 

Day 1. Getting around Madrid

Sam: Well, for starters Ava and I slept for 14 hours which means that we got up at 2:00 pm! Our host family has blinders that block out the sun entirely which I’m entirely grateful for. Then, we ate breakfast and an hour later we had lunch with our host family. (Cereal for breakfast and spaghetti for lunch.) We watched The Devil Wears Prada during our siesta and are about to go out to see Madrid. Overall, today was very relaxed and needed after our trip to Spain. 

Julia: Today I explored Madrid with my host family!  It is quite a change of scenery from winter in Farmington, the weather in Madrid today was sunny with blue skies.  We went to a famous and historic palace called the Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace of Madrid).  It is the most beautiful and detailed place I have ever stepped foot into.  The palace became the official home of the Spanish Monarchy in 1561 but is now only used for ceremonies.  There was a major fire on Christmas Eve of 1734 that brought the palace to ruins, but was rebuilt in 1738 and finished in 1751.  Several architects and artists were hired to make the palace beautiful, luxurious, and extremely representative of the Spanish monarchy.  Every room, hallway, and painting has its own story to tell.  One of the rooms, Salón Gasparini, took over 40 years to complete! All of the decoration, floors, and embroidery were impressively done by one artist, Martías Gasparini.  This room was used for the King to get dressed in the presence of the court.  The palace life seemed very good for the royal families in Spain.  The amount of work and detail put into the decoration and architecture is unbelievable.  I do not think there are any places nearly similar to the Palacio Real de Madrid in the United States.  If I lived in the palace I feel like I would get lost since there are so many rooms and hallways.  The palace shows that there is a lot of respect towards the Spanish monarchy and that art and architecture are really relevant in Spanish history and culture.  We ate a lot of food today! Some of my favorites were fried shrimp, a fruit smoothie, bubble tea, and churros!  The markets with seafood and churros were both very busy and are popular in Madrid.  It has been really fun staying with my host family and getting to know them.  They have been so welcoming and are giving me a perspective of life in Madrid! I have also really enjoyed hearing their views on the United States.  I am so happy to be in Spain and see the world from a different lens!  

Madrid, Madrid, Madrid. De Madrid al cielo

Ava: ¡¡¡¡¡Bienvenidos!!!!! Our Spanish IM group finally made it to Spain after months of prep, a 2 hour bus ride to JFK, and a 6-hour plane. And even though we spent the first day fighting off sleep, it was still a really amazing and fulfilling day. Everyone got to meet their host sisters, and they were all so amazing and welcoming. The SEK school is really pretty and has really nice facilities. The classes were all really interesting and different experiences than the ones at home, so it was fun to observe. Sam and I went home with our host student and got to go have a snack at a local bakery which was really delicious. We are so tired from the long travel day and excited to get to bed! 

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Mariela: As Ava described, we had a long first day of traveling! When we got to SEK we met our host sisters and enjoyed bocadillos, small sandwiches made with Spanish bread and meat or cheese. After taking a tour of the school we shadowed our host students for the rest of their day. I got to experience Lengua, Visual Arts, French, and geography with Micaela (my host). We have a lot in common and bonded instantly. After school, I settled in, ate dinner with Micaela and her family, and finally, we shopped at the Gran Plaza before heading to bed. So excited for the rest of our adventure together. 

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Students settled into homestays and are off exploring Madrid today!

Robi and Oscar report that our students left school with their host students last night and were welcomed warmly by their host families in their homes. They unpacked, settled in, ate delicious meals and headed to bed after a long day. Today, they are learning about life living in a Spanish family and exploring Madrid with their host families.

I will post pictures as soon as I receive them! Stay tuned!

The group landed in Madrid and are at SEK – El Castillo!

Our world travelers landed safely in Madrid, boarded the SEK bus and were driven to the school. They were met and welcomed by their host students – there were many hugs and much excitement! After having some refreshments and attending an orientation session, our students are currently accompanying their host students in their classes.

Orientation session at SEK – El Castillo

Though tired from the flight, Robi and Oscar report that everyone is in great spirits as they hit the ground running today! All are looking forward to traveling home with their host students and meeting their host families this evening.