Students studying Spanish at St. Joseph’s Academy traveled to Spain during the Easter break, enjoying the culture, history, sights and sounds of Southern Spain and Madrid.
The travelers began their adventure with a tour of the town of Toledo, visiting the 13th-century Gothic Cathedral Santa Maria and enjoying El Greco’s The Burial of the Count of Orgaz at Santo Tomé. In Cordoba, the group toured the Mezquita of Cordoba, an 8th century medieval Islamic mosque converted into a Catholic cathedral. After a traditional meal of tapas at the restaurant Hostería Del Laurel in the Santa Cruz Quarter of Sevilla, the students viewed a procession of the Virgin Mary through the narrow streets.
On Easter Sunday, the group saw the Resurrection procession and explored the Plaza de España that was designed as the centerpiece of the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition. After Easter mass, the girls learned about the Cathedral of Seville, the largest Gothic building in the world, and climbed to the top of La Giralda for a breathtaking view of the city of Sevilla. Following were a tour of El Museo del Baile Flamenco, a Flamenco dance class and an authentic Flamenco show.
In Granada, the travelers saw the Alhamra and Generalife gardens. In Madrid, they traveled like locals on the metro, explored Old Madrid and the Plaza Mayor and visited the bull ring and museum of Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas. They saw the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, visited Prado Museum and la Puerto de Sol and enjoyed dinner at the world’s oldest restaurant, Restaurante Botin.
“I absolutely loved going to the Mosque-Cathedral in Córdoba,” said senior Julia Akin. “It was by far one of the most awe-inspiring places I’ve ever been. I learned a lot by being submerged in another culture and adapting to their way of life. Also, the olive oil was the highlight of the trip, and I put it on everything now.”
Senior Ploy Sanguanruang said her first trip to Europe exceeded all expectations. “After seeing what Spain had to offer, I would go back in a heartbeat,” she said. “The cities we went to were so different from each other. Some looked contemporary and bustling while others looked historic and compact. What made this adventure most memorable was being in such a beautiful place with such a wonderful group of people. I will also never forget that this was the trip that helped me decide to minor in Spanish. I learned the significance of Semana Santa (Holy Week). Before this trip, I didn’t know how important it is to the people. The people in the ceremony had practiced for months. During the procession, everyone was silent to show reverence. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to come and see the procession.”
Senior Rhys Lopiparo said she had been looking forward to the Spain trip since her freshman year. “It was honestly more than I could have ever hoped for,” she said. “Being able to go to such amazing places with this group of girls was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It was such a great way to encounter some of the many things I have learned in both my Spanish and World History classes. I was so amazed at the history behind the places we visited, and we were in awe of the beautiful sights Spain had to offer. Personally, I believe La Mezquita was one of the most amazing places we visited. Not only were we able to admire the beautiful architecture, but we were also able to learn about its complex background and the city it stands in. I am so thankful I had the opportunity to travel with this amazing group of people, and I would recommend this trip to anyone who is interested.”
Junior Victoria Funes said she especially enjoyed the opportunity to be immersed in the culture of the region. “The group of 30 of us got close very quickly and were able to enjoy each other’s company in a new and exciting place,” she said. “We got to practice our Spanish and see things that we learned about in class, which was surreal. It was really hard to leave, and I’m so happy to have been in attendance, since it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Having gelato three times a day was also a treat.”
The students were accompanied by Dean of Women Erika Angarita, Spanish teacher Catherine Durnin and several parents.
Mindy Brodhead Averitt
Photos courtesy of Erika Angarita and Catherine Durnin