Monthly Archives: January 2020

Wheels are up and the Spain group is on their way home!

The group arrived at the Madrid Airport in time to do some last minute shopping and to eat! Robi reported all are very sad to leave their host sisters and host families but equally as excited to return home. The group departed on Iberia flight #6251 at 12:30pm local time and are due to arrive at JFK at 3:00pm today.

I will update this blog once they have arrived!

“Cuando la muerte venga a visitarme, no me despiertes, déjame dormir. Aquí he vivido, aquí quiero quedarme. Pongamos que hablo de Madrid.” Joaquín Sabina

Kaitlin:

First, we ate breakfast and talked with the president of the SEK schools as well as student representatives from all over the SEK schools. Waiting outside the Prado was a little frustrating and made us tired. Oscar showed us some of the most important exhibits and taught us about the historical significance and possible interpretations of the artwork. My favorite artists that we viewed were Velázquez, Goya, and El Greco. Although I wish we could have wandered by ourselves, I came out of the museum feeling inspired and grateful. Afterward, we spent some time shopping and walking around Gran Vía. 

With Nieves Segovia Bonet, president of the SEK schools

Anoushka:

To start off today I woke up and took the bus to get to school with my host student Laura.  When we got there we met up with our Porter’s group and went to go meet the president of the school! She was really nice and we also got to talk to other kids from other schools!  Christine and I got to talk to two girls who each spoke four different languages! After that, we got on the bus and headed to the Prado museum in Madrid. We had to wait outside for about half an hour because we couldn’t get in, but we eventually got in and it was so cool!  Señor Rollán explained all the different artwork and then we took a bus tour. After the bus tour, we got free time and I went to different stores with my friends. After that, we came back to school and went home with our host students. Today was a very fun day! 

Palacio Real

“Vamos a la gran Toledo, que, en nombrándola, no puedo ni tengo más que decir. Gente noble, entendimientos raros, damas siempre hermosas.” Lope de Vega

Christine:

Today we went to Toledo and went on a tour of the city! Although it was a beautiful place, I would have liked it better if the weather was better. It was very windy and it suddenly snowed at the very beginning of the tour. 
However, the trip was still quite fun! One thing I thought was super cool, are the watermarks! Watermarks are symbols on the corner of buildings with wells or any rain storage just in case there was a fire that needed to be put out. I thought this was a very innovative and a smart way to differentiate between buildings with or without wells. 
After the short tour, we split up as a group and went out on our own paths. I was with five other students from this IM group. We went to many different shops for the short free time. We then searched for a place to eat lunch, which took us longer than we expected. 
It was a short excursion, with not-so-good weather, but it was one of the most interesting trips!!

Catedral de Toledo
Snowing in Toledo. And that is unusual.
Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz
Some very narrow streets in the Jewish quarter!

Jolie:

We visited Toledo today. We began our tour at the Zocodover plaza, which was named after the Arabic word for “Market of Beasts” because of the animals sold there back then. On the tour, we heard lots of legends. The tour guide told us the tale of a tailor who pricked herself deeply and was unable to continue sewing. She then went to the cathedral to pray and gave the sewing needle to the church. Not long after, she met a good man and they married and lived happily together. When the tour finished, my friends and I explored the city and went inside many shops but didn’t buy anything. Sam was interested in daggers and swords and Anoushka really liked frogs. We ate chicken fingers and smoked salmon for lunch then met at the Zocodover plaza to go back to school. At night, I went to a sushi restaurant with my host sister because it was her birthday!

Entrance to the Jewish quarter in Toledo
Sinagoga Santa María la Blanca

El que cada día va bien, el domingo no tiene que poner.

At the Santiago Bernabeu, home of Real Madrid!

Julia:

This weekend was packed with all sorts of fun activities!  On Saturday, I went to a soccer game (Real Madrid vs. Sevilla) with my host student at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, which is home to Real Madrid.  This was not like any soccer game I have ever been to.  The moment I walked into the stadium I could hear the crowd’s excitement and cheers.  The soccer players looked like robots because of how smoothly all of the plays went.  Towards the end of the game, everything became really intense since the score was tied, but when Real Madrid beautifully made a goal, the crowd was at its loudest.  It was truly an amazing experience to be at the game.  For dinner on Saturday, we went to the oldest Korean restaurant in Madrid, it was so good!  Sunday, I went to a Spanish restaurant for lunch with my host family.  The bread and olive oil were so yummy and the huevos estrellados with jamón was also very tasty.  After lunch, my host student and I went to Museo Nacional del Prado.  There is so much history within the art at El Prado that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.  The paintings are so much different than the paintings I have seen in American art museums.  Many paintings dating back to the 1400s which is unbelievable, seeing that they are in amazing condition.  I did not even get through half of the museum within the 3 hours we were there because of how detailed each painting was.  Everything single piece of art had its own unique story.  My host student and I then went to meet the rest of the Porter’s group with their host students for an escape room.  We all worked together to finish the room eight minutes before time ran out!  To end the day my host student and I ate dinner with another host student pair at an Italian restaurant.  This weekend was so fun, I could not have had a better experience!   

Sam:

Today was much like our first day back in that we relaxed all day. Ava and I made our own breakfast and hung out with our host family. We played games like memory and some other cards games as well. The other girls had planned an escape room but since we couldn’t go, we watched some movies instead. By the end of the day, our host parents bought us some churros for dinner! 

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Ni sábado sin sol, ni moza sin amor, ni viejo sin dolor

Ava:

Today was so fun! Sam and I got to sleep in because we were so tired, but when we woke up we had a full meal with the whole family and it was really nice to catch up with them after having so much fun in Avila and Salamanca. Sam shared the candy she brought home from Salamanca which was so good! Later in the day (after our movie-siesta) we went to a shopping center and walked around, went bowling, and had dinner with Mariela and her host student. I can’t believe we only have 3 days left in Spain! I am really looking forward to next weeks’ excursions.

Going for the triple-double!

Mariela:

Today Micaela and I woke up, painted our nails, and watched (you guessed it) Love Island UK! I couldn’t decide between pink or blue or white so I did each nail half pink half blue with a white stripe in the middle. Next, we met up with Julia, Sam, and Ava to shop, go bowling, and eat dinner. I’m having so much fun and getting lots of practice speaking Spanish in restaurants and stores. I got some cool pink glasses that make me look like Bad Bunny and a sparkly belt. I think Europe is making me more fashion-forward. As the Porter’s mission statement says, I am bold and resourceful and all that. 

Spain fashionable!

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!