The Spring semester is going well for our group of students. The city is enjoying nice temperatures and beautiful sunny days which invite people to go out and explore the city, its neighborhoods, its cafes and parks or some fo the exhibits held in the Madrid museums. The CIEE cultural agenda has kept our students busy with many interesting activities that helped them to learn more about Spanish culture.
We travelled to the heart of the country in search of the origins of the Spanish language. We visited the Monastery of Yuso, where a manuscript with the firsts written phrases in Spanish is preserved. Students were especially interested in the way monks lived in the area, the works of local writer Gonzalo de Berceo and the impressive collection of song books.
Being in La Rioja was a great excuse to discuss the wine culture in Spain and how important this is for the Spanish economy. Rioja is one of the most famous red wines in the world and by paying a visit to a winery helped students were able to learn more about the process of making wine, from the harvest in September to the commerzalitation of products. The winnery, located in El Ciego, is proud to feauture a building designed by Canadian architect Frank Gehry, which captures the different colors of grapes and integrates perfectly in an environment that became one of the students' favorite so far.
However, we want students to discover not only those sights that they can find in travel books or made by famous artits,but to explore new areas and different artistic proposals. This is the case of Justo Gallego's cathedral, a building constructed with recycled materials. The main interest of this building is that it is been built just by one man who has been working in this amazing project for more than fifty years. The tour was led by local students living in the area who proudly explained the impact of this construction in the small town of Mejorada del Campo.
Students' favorite every semester is our Graffiti tour. Urban art is very attractive to our students who photograph murals and other art pieces while we take them around Lavapies, the multicultural quarter of Madrid. A visit to Tabacalera, the old tobacco factory, now filled with big murals created by different artists and the urban garden of Lavapies completed the tour which offered many alternatives for the students' free time.
To relax after midterms, we organized a flamenco workshop where students participated enthusiastically. Led by professional dancer Pilar Vega, she explained to students the origins of flamenco and reviewed the basics of it. On a step by step workshop, students where able to follow the chroreographies and play traditional instruments like castanets in an unforgettable evening.
Spring break is coming and students are ready to travel around Spain and Europe before facing the last part of the semester, improving their Spanish significantly as well as getting acquainted with the local culture.