Yes, unfortunately it was. :(
47 days after our arrival at Madrid's Barajas airport, we found ourselves there again, this time - with the students heading home. Having shared a summer full of grammar, vocabulary, laughter, excursions, cultural immersion and gastronomic adventures, our kids took advantage of the final hours they'd have with each other in Spanish. And they even smiled one last time for the Blog!
Although a few of our students had visited McDonald’s and/or Burger King in León, it wasn’t until we got to bustling capital of Madrid that they were able to enjoy the other American ‘favorites’: Starbuck’s (I am guilty of indulging as well!) and Dunkin Donuts.
Another group shot with pizza, Spanish-style! (Don't be surprised if your students come home and inspect each pie carefully before devouring - they've learned to be wary! Crazy things like tuna and fried eggs can often appear with the sauce and cheese!) Also shown here is our "official" program t-shirt, designed by Maggie, and modeled by students and instructors.
After a brief swim or siesta upon our return to the residence hall, it was time for the students to tackle what for some may have been the biggest challenge since their arrival here in Spain - the suitcases! With all of their purchases made, the only thing left to do was make sure everything fit inside and that the luggage would "make weight" at the Iberia counter's ever-so-precise scales.
That evening, to conclude both our final excursion and the summer program, we held our last fiesta, complete with pijamas, pizzas y profesores. As the pictures show, there were plenty of smiles and laughs to go around in spite of our impending departure.
Shown here are two of Madrid's major landmarks, both located in the Puerta del Sol. The sun, also known as kilómetro cero , is the center of the radial network of Spanish roads and the statue, el oso y el madroño by Antonio Navarro Santafé, is easily recognized as the symbol of the city.
The next stop for our recorrido was the Madrid’s famous “old art” Museo del Prado (as opposed to the “modern” or more contemporary art of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia), which home to more than 7,000 works. Here, students were given the opportunity to see firsthand many of the paintings they had learned about in culture class with Beatriz. A must-see for many of them was “Las Meninas,” by Diego Velázquez.
In the pictures, you can see the busy entrance to the Prado (luckily, we didn't have the extensive wait in the heat that some other visitors did!), the students (posed in front of Spanish artist Goya) and the nearby church of San Jerónimo el Real.
With so much of the city to see, we were off to an early start on Sunday! The first stop on our recorrido of Madrid was the Palacio Real. Although no longer used as the official residence of the monarchy, some of the palace's 2,000 rooms are still used for state business. Also shown here is the Catedral de la Almudena, which was started in 1883 but not completed for another 110 years!
Following our brief visit to Toledo, we returned to the residence in Madrid where our students welcomed both the refreshing sight of a pool and the culturally-embraced notion of a siesta. But, it wasn't long before we were up again and took to the busy streets of Spain's capital, Madrid. Shown here is the Plaza Mayor, and the statue in its center is of Felipe III. Throughout history, this famous plaza has been used to hold markets, bullfights, soccer games, concerts and even public executions(!).
Just a few hours after our departure from León and following a quick stop at our "residence" in Madrid, the students found themselves in the timeless city of Toledo, located on the Río Tajo. As the former capital of Spain, Toledo is recognized as one of the few places where Christians, Moors and Jews co-existed and traces of each group can be found throughout the city. Here, students visited the Cathedral (which is like an art museum as it contains several paintings by El Greco, Goya, Tiziano, Rubens, Van Dyck and Rafael),the Iglesia de Santo Tomé (where they saw the famous painting by El Greco “El entierro del Conde Orgaz”) and the Sinagoga del Tránsito, which houses the museo sefardí.
It's been said that a picture is worth "a thousand words" and I believe that these two shots live up to the expression. Having an early start and a very long day ahead us, Saturday morning brought a much-too-soon end to our stay in León. With their final purchases made, their suitcases (over!)packed and their lunches and snacks thoughtfully prepared by their Spanish moms one last time, the students said their goodbyes. Among the hugs and the tears, though, there were many hopeful promises of return.
Before all of students headed out for the evening with their families, someone managed to catch me on the 'other' side of the camera along with the other profes! The woman with us is Sira Quindós Martín-Granizo, our onsite coordinator.
Here are the program and the coverpage of our libro de recuerdos (or "book or memories"), designed by our students Bre Gibson and Logan Foreit. These books were presented to the host families along with flowers. In an effort to prevent suitcase overload, all of our participants will be receiving their memory books upon return to the U.S. Be sure to take a look at the various photos and studnt contributions!
As a special surprise for two of our students, Amelia Erlandson and Sean Nolan, longtime Honors Program host mom Camino stopped by to meet them and see our performances Thursday night. Camino hosted Amelia's brother Anothony a few years ago (and has since been back to visit!) and Sean's brother Jim stayed with her just last summer.