Laura in Spain

Laura is a sophomore majoring in political science and Spanish in Dedman College. In Spring 2009, she will be taking courses toward her Spanish major in Spain at the Fundacion Jose Ortega y Gasset, while being immersed in Spanish culture.

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Exploring Valencia, Spain

We took our last school trip for the spring semester in the first week of March.

Valencia is on the eastern side of Spain and has been added to my list of wonderful parts of this incredible country. They speak Valenciano there, so it was interesting to hear and read a different dialect of Spanish.

laura-Oceonografico-group-pic-sm.jpgMy favorite visit in Valencia was to the L’Oceanografic, which is their aquarium. It is a majestic white building that made me feel as if I had walked into the future. I loved the L’Oceanografic so much that I decided that the same architect will have to design my future house! Interestingly enough, it was designed by the same Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava, who designed “The Wave” outside our Meadows Museum at SMU.

laura-Tribunal-de-las-Aguas-sm.jpgAnother interesting sight while in Valencia was when we got to see a medieval court hearing outside the town square. It is called the Tribunal de Las Aguas, and it is held every Thursday of the year for people who have water or irrigation complaints. It is done orally in Valenciano, and no one is taking down what is being said. It is not your typical court with court reporters and an appeals process. Nevertheless whatever the eight judges conclude is valid, and it becomes law.

laura-fallas-2-sm.jpgLast but not least I must mention that we had so much fun while in Valencia because we were there one week before their great Fallas festival.

A Falla is a huge carton monument or figure that reminds me of a Mexican pinata. They are figures that deal with current world occurrences as well as major events in history, which make them all the more interesting. The Fallas are elaborately designed and take about a year to create.

On March 19 all the Fallas are burned, and Valencia becomes an illuminated city. It is said that some people cry after seeing them being burned because it was a year’s worth of labor, and a week later they begin the Falla for the upcoming year. Also, it is tradition that the best and most creative Falla be saved every year and it is placed in the Falla Museum.

All in all I have really enjoyed the trips that we taken with school because they are able to show us the differences between many parts of Spain. We have had the opportunity to learn about them in our culture class, and a week later we have the places right before our eyes. The fact that our hotels and entrances to museums are paid for is also a plus.

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