The orientation program through Temple Spain has been an exciting introduction to the country. We continued to explore medieval hill towns outside of Madrid with Jaime Duran, our program director, and Gerardo (“Jerry”), our tour guide. Each site we visit feels like a new puzzle piece, given us to assemble a larger picture of Spain. Our next stop, Segovia, further builds our historical understanding of Spain through thousands of years of architecture.
We arrived to Segovia in time to experience the dramatic light from the early morning sun and the chilly crisp air. The photo above, is one of our first impressions on the town.
Directly in front of where the bus dropped us off, is an enormous Roman aqueduct, a famous icon of the city.
This aqueduct is one of the best preserved aqueducts in the world, and dates back to 1st century A.D.
Temple student Julia looking down a staircase.
Temple Spain orientation group.
Example of “Esgrafiado” decorative elements, a technique associated with the city.
Temple Students in front of San Millán church.
More examples of esgrafiado.
Temple students in one of Segovia’s narrow streets.
The city’s massive cathedral. At this site Jerry introduces elements of Gothic architecture to the group.
Another view of the cathedral.
The Alcázar of Segovia, a world heritage site.
Temple students try “cochinillo” or roast suckling pig at a local restaurant. The meat is so tender, that a waiter cuts it with a plate. After he divides portions of the pig, he intentionally throws the plate on the ground and breaks it.
Temple students seated at the table with our cochinillo appropriately positioned at the head of the table.
The next city on our itinerary is Ávila, famous for its outstanding medieval walls. Featured above are Temple students Kayla P., Jon and Kayla H.
Students eagerly hopped off the bus to get a view of the city, and of course, pose for photos.
View of the medieval wall.
The overwhelmingly ornate altar inside the cathedral.
View of the cathedral’s organ pipes with a statue of Madonna and child.
Detail of the cathedral’s pointed arches and ribbed vaulting.
Chapel of the cathedral with a collection of El Greco paintings.
Orientation ended on a Sunday with our arrival in Oviedo. Our program began immediately on the following day. On the first day of the program, I attended a class on Spanish Society and Culture where the classroom quickly filled with students. The professor entered and set up the presentation. The first slide of the power point presentation read “Descubre España” which felt like an invitation or a title on a travel brochure. As the class continued and the professor gave an introduction to the course, I thought more about the phrase. “Discover Spain” should be interpreted more as a challenge than an invitation. We are a classroom of extranjeros, of foreigners and of navigators. We could spend the next five months in the capital of Asturias and seek refuge within our comfort zone, or we could push ourselves for exploration, discovery, and the occasional discomfort. We have already received the incredible opportunity of studying a language at its country of origin, but it’s our individual responsibility to take it to the next level.