Federico in Spain

Federico is a senior majoring in political science and foreign languages, with a concentration in Spanish and French, in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. The recipient of a Marion Tower Study Abroad Scholarship for Fall 2009, Federico is studying at the Fundacion Jose Ortega y Gasset in Madrid through SMU-in-Spain. He previously studied abroad in 2007 through SMU-in-Paris.

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Finding a Spanish-style routine

IMG_0865-1.jpg My first full of week of school was exciting. The campus here is a great size, and classes are made up of around ten students. I am very happy with my course load, and the professors are excellent. They are extremely approachable and are eager to teach us the material.

I’ve finally gotten into a routine, however in the Spanish style. An early wake-up with a small breakfast begins around 8 a.m. My classes end around noon, so I have time to grab a long and relaxing lunch. Usually, in the afternoon I explore a different part of the city. Then it is time for a siesta. Dinner at my home stay is served past 9 p.m.; therefore I stay awake late into the night.

DSC02912.jpg Some of the neighborhoods I was able to thoroughly visit this week were Malasana, Chueca and Salamanca. My roommate and I found an inviting plaza in Malasana where not a single tourist could be found. We ate pizza at an open air restaurant where the people enjoyed their meal under the sun with a beverage of their choice.

Near Chueca, my roommate and I also found trendy vintage shops and cool local hang-out spots.

DSC02916-1.jpg Finally, we did some shopping in Salamanca where Zara and H&M stores can be found. However, I opted to help out the mom and pop shops, where I purchased a classic skinny tie for a great price.

DSC02815.jpg Friday, SMU took us on a study trip to Segovia, a city 87 kilometers from Madrid. Its most notable monument, a nearly 2,000-year-old Roman aqueduct, acts as a gate to the city.

We also visited the town’s Gothic-style cathedral and the Romanesque Alcazar of Segovia. One of the most memorable moments of the trip was the climb to the top of the Alcazar via a medieval spiral staircase. Here, the entire city could be seen as well as the surrounding barren lands.

Saturday, we celebrated my roommate’s 22nd birthday. Ten of us made reservations at the Midnight Rose restaurant in Plaza de Santa Ana. After dinner, we proceeded to the rooftop bar and lounge and enjoyed the beautiful weather we had that night.

Finally, we hopped into two cabs and headed to Gabana 1800, one of Madrid’s most exclusive discoteques. This location is currently my favorite nighttime spot.

DSC03043-1.jpg Sunday, the day I was supposed to rest, ended up being quite eventful. I had made plans the previously night with a University of San Diego friend to watch a Spanish bullfight. We arrived to Ventas, Madrid’s bullfighting arena built in the 1920s, late in the afternoon. The two-hour event was very exciting to say the least. One of the most spectacular events was when an angry bull flipped a horse on his back along with his rider. The crowd gasped as the bull fought a horse and rider once they were on the ground.

A full three-day weekend is coming. It took me a while to decide where I want to go. My next blog entry will detail this experience.

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