By Shelley Flenniken ’15
It is hard to believe we have already been in Madrid for three weeks and this module is halfway over. On one hand, I feel as though I have settled into Madrid very easily. I am a city girl with a knack for finding hidden gems amongst the chaos, navigating public transit, and at least looking confident enough for people to come ask me for directions or other questions about the city. The irony is that when I open my mouth to either provide a real answer or to say “lo siento, pero no se” (Sorry, but I have no clue!) they clearly realize that they did not ask a local. In the academic sense, I would most certainly say we are settled in. We have already completed both Corporate Financial Management and GPE II, are half way through Business and Managerial Communications, and about to nose dive into Business Informatics.
On the other hand, Spain has such a rich culture and long, diverse history we are only scraping the surface! Our first full weekend in Madrid we all had the opportunity to visit Ávila and Segovia as a Thunderbird sponsored cultural visit. Ávila is most recognizable for its medieval town walls, but the origins of the town go back to pre-roman times. In addition to the walls, Ávila is also knows as the home of Saint Teresa of Jesus, or Teresa of Ávila. We were able to visit the Convento de Santa Teresa (Convent of Saint Teresa), which is the primary shrine to Saint Teresa, and the Sala de Reliquias (relic room) where the ring finger from her right hand is actually on display.
After Ávila, we loaded back on the bus to drive up to Segovia. In Segovia we were able to try the local cuisine as well as see sights such as Roman Aqueducts, the Segovia Cathedral, and the Alcazar of Segovia (the royal palace).
Cochinillo Asado, otherwise known as suckling pig, is one of the primary meals that Segovia is known for, so of course we had to try it! The meat was tender and full of flavor, but you did have to get over the sight of the entire pig! Thankfully they did not put the whole pig on the table, but you could see it on the serving table and all over the town. Leaving stuffed we headed up to the Aqueducts.
Seeing the Aqueducts really put in perspective the amount of history that this city has seen. They were constructed sometime in the late 1st or early 2nd century and were in use as recently as the mid 19th century to provide water to Segovia. To think of the skill and labor that could build something to endure at least 17 centuries of use is astounding. With all of the technology we have today, I don’t know if anything we build could stand that test of time in both function and structure. After taking as many photos as possible of the Aqueducts we headed off to the Segovia Cathedral. This was built in the 16th century and towers over the town’s Plaza Mayor in the center of Segovia showing its significance. The Cathedral is still in use today for weekly services as well as weddings and other church services.
Finally, we ended up at the Alcazar of Segovia, or royal palace. This palace looked like it was pulled straight out of a fairytale. The outside was picturesque overlooking the countryside and inside was filled with ornate decorations, art, furnishings and armory. To think that we would just end this day as a beautiful glimpse into history would be far too limiting for this group of T-birds. We had to make a little bit of our own history. In cooperation, Mother Nature enabled several of my fellow students their first opportunity to see snow as we left the Alcazar! What a day to remember!
Over the our final three weeks in Madrid we will continue to travel throughout the region and learn more about the history, culture, and business environment, but no matter how much we see and what we learn, there will be much so much more waiting for us to return.
sons Spain has to offer.