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G2 Spain immersion
2017-10-19

[SCIE web news, Oct 19th, 2017] There used to be an incredible blue sky, at somewhere abroad, so blue that I ‘ve forgotten everything else;

There used to be a splendid beautiful city, at somewhere abroad, so beautiful that I felt like I was in fantasy;

There used to be a period of unforgettable time, in Spain. Besides academic lessons, we ‘ve been immersing in the listless sunshine in Europe. Though we only spent seven days there, the memory extended far longer than that in my mind.

 

As soon as I got off from Swiss airline, I felt in love with this country immediately. The half-desert landscape of Madrid emerged from its veil, as someone was unfolding a picture scroll. Mountains and fields stretched for a long distance, with exposed sandy soil somewhere and thick grassy marshland elsewhere. The rolling hills as well as highways attached to them were embellished with lots of small verdant bushes and plenty of oaks around. I saw livestock spreading out all over the land and horses dotting the vast ranch. There were also migrants birds flying in flocks in the sky. What an unimaginable view! It was almost impossible to see such marvelous scenery in Beijing, which was the capital of China. 

After spending little time in Madrid doing shopping, we headed for our target city Salamanca—a small town in Western Spain. Can you imagine how small Salamanca is? Only three times as the size of Shuiwei village! However, this was a secret town, lurking behind the neon lamp and noise of Madrid, enjoying its own history and tales. Cars were not allowed in most of its streets and the town was filled with buildings and towers of Baroque style, which were all exquisite and elegant. People here lived a life of leisure as there were restaurants and cafes at almost every corner.

 

Here was our schedule. Firstly, we lived in a host family, where our Spanish parents only spoke Spanish. Secondly, we had classes in the morning from 10-14 o’clock in Tia tula (A small language school in Salamanca). Generally speaking, Spanish have lunch at 14:30 approximately and we start our extra curriculum activities at 16:30 everyday. In Salamanca, there were a number of activities such as city exploring, flamenco lessonsroom-escaping game, cooking class, horse-riding, tower-climbing and farewell party. Activities usually ended before 20:30 as Spanish ate dinner late.

 

Salamanca

 

Horse-riding

 

During that week, we really enjoyed ourselves. Everyday we kept speaking to people surrounding us: teachers, host family, shop assistants. They only spoke Spanish, which increased our oral speaking skills greatly; we studied grammar of higher level in class, which broadened our knowledge; we experienced the real traditional life of Spanish people in Salamanca, enjoying joyful holiday with five meals a day. During the weekend, we went to Madrid to feel the prosperity of the large city. We also climbed on the mountains nearby, like we were doing IA again. In the museums, we improved our listening skills when we tried hard to comprehend what the tour guide was talking about those exhibits. By this way we also learnt about the history background of this country, feeling the glory and the humiliation of it from our deeper mind. 

Weekdays were time for courses. When we got up in the morning, beams of sunlight penetrated through the curtains, falling on my bed, which gave a vague feeling of autumn. The weather here was really agreeable, a little bit like winter in Shenzhen. In the morning, you may feel a bit cold; while when it comes to the noon, the sun starts to warm up the whole world, yet it is not as scorching as that in summer. There is a Chinese traditional poem, which describes the charm of West lake in Hangzhou, saying that it is always beautiful no matter how you polish it. It assembles Spain, while it’s a pity that it can’t be translated into English properly. In general, it is the nice weather and condition of Spain that influence the way of life Spanish people live. No wonder there is no people sitting in square and enjoying tea in Shenzhen, it is unbearably hot!

 

At 10, we arrived at Tia tula and got ready for our lessons. Unlike the class in SCIE, professors here only taught in Spanish. As a result, we could clearly feel our weakness in speaking and listening at the beginning. Though luckily, I achieved good results last semester, my oral speaking ability desired for improvement. We ‘re pretty clear that there is no short path in the language learning process. Only practice makes perfect. The language immersion environment is really beneficial to beginners, especially. At first, we didn’t even understand what our host family said at home; while only after a few days, we were able to comprehend the laconic introduction made by tour guide in the museum. That was really marvelous! 

Among all those extra curriculum activities, quite a few of them were really exciting. The first one was the city exploring in Salamanca. When we were finding answers to each question, we learnt more and more about this old town. Secondly, horse-riding was also quite challenging. It was much cheaper than China, whereas it provided us with an authentic horse-riding experience on our own. Moreover, the visiting to Alberca was also one of the funniest days during the trip that I would never forget. The ham museum, delicious nuts “Túrron”, our appetite was satisfied there. Last but not least, the Real Madrid Palace left a deep impression on me as it was even more splendid that some palaces in China.

 Center Square, Madrid

 

Temple in Salamanca

Besides, Spain is also well known for its food. It lived up to its name. Indeed, it was really fabulous and impressive. Frequently we bought a variety of drink and snacks from the café near our school, sometimes a piece of pizza with a cup of milk, sometimes a mini sandwich with a cup of coffee. It was not too much, yet it allowed me to taste various styles of local food. Especially for me, it was really enjoyable when I was sitting in the square with my friend, having delicious seafood and fresh juice, with wind caressing my face gently. I couldn’t tell what exactly made the time in Spain better, yet I was 100 percent sure that it was the kind of relaxation that I would never feel in Shenzhen.

 

FOOD!!!

 

Schedule in Spain was quite busy, while there was always some spare time left. The night was belonged to us; we could either go to have some coffee or stayed at home doing the homework. Usually during the nights, I was wandering in the town, dreaming about those old but wonderful times, thinking about what to taste next. Only would I relax myself thoroughly here and I don’t know why. Maybe because the sun set so late, because the time flew so slowly.… I’d totally immersed myself in this attractive town, within only seven days.

  

New Cathedral, Salamanca

 

Panorama of Salamanca from the tower   

One of the most important things I want to say as a conclusion, is that the appearance of a country can be easily seen through sightseeing; its history can also be explored by either reading books or surfing the Internet, although it may take you some time; however, you may never be able to feel the customs of it. Customs not only refers to the traditional clothes, food and way of living of a country. In fact, it is the particular feeling triggered when you resonate with a country, that will become a country ‘s mark in your mind forever. This is what Spain has left to me, something secret, something ineffable, something that will never sink into oblivion.

  

(Report and Photos/Elizabeth)

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