While the majority of Tufts-Skidmore Spain students are in the depths of midterm exams, papers, and projects this week, I thought I would take a quick moment to drag myself out of the stressed daze of due dates to remind myself of how much I like my classes here and how genuinely interesting they are.
This semester I have had the opportunity to take some really cool classes. I have been blown away by the fact that the majority of my classes are entirely based in experiencing Spain, and more specifically Madrid. In the last two months, I’ve studied art history firsthand in the Prado, meandered the streets with a sketchbook for my art class, and toured the Congreso de los Diputados for my political sociology class. Every time our lessons takes place outside the traditional confines of a classroom, I am reminded of just how unique an experience it is to be studying here and witnessing the world outside of Medford or Saratoga Springs.
In the current state of the Spanish political system (*If you haven’t heard about the independence movement in Cataluña, please turn on the news), it’s become increasingly obvious to me how important it is to understand the politics of the world outside of our crazy American political sphere. In our class Is Spain Different we have delved into history and development of Spanish culture, as well as the more current independence movement in Cataluña and the factors that play into the tension. We’ve had the opportunity to go on trips to the Spanish Congress and Senate, and just this week met with/interviewed a prominent member/Senator from the PSOE (Spain’s socialist party, the second most popular party at the present moment) mere hours before Puigdemont was potentially making a huge speech in front of the Senate. As an International Relations/politics nerd, I like being up to date on what is happening in the world. It’s so cool to be able to turn on the news at night in Spain and hear the king or president give a speech and evaluate firsthand how things will play out in one of the most tense moments in recent Spanish history.
However, the trips around Madrid don’t stop at political institutions. I’ve strolled through Parque Retiro to doodle among the sculptures, taken an urban art tour of Lavapiés, and got lost in a pathway of trees at the Royal Botanical Gardens for my sketchbook class. Although my mediocre sketches wouldn’t allude to the gorgeous places we’ve visited, I’ve been able to gain a unique idea of the art scene in the city and a better taste for Madrid as a whole.
Twice a week, I get up close and personal with some of the greats like Velasquez, Goya and El Greco. I can walk by the infamous “Las Meninas” as if I’ve seen it a million times (which I have, but I still could stand and stare for hours), and could tell you oodles of information about the other “Mona Lisa” that the Prado has custody of (…bet you didn’t know there are two!). As someone who is fascinated by art history, being able to take a class at the Prado, one of the best art museums in the world, was a huge draw for me. In the process spending a semester’s worth of classes there and our hunt to “become locals in Madrid,” I’ve started to feel very local to the Museo Nacional del Prado. That’s not something most people can say, and I constantly remind myself just how cool that is.
With Tufts students starting the process of registering for spring semester courses, I’ve looked back on my classes this fall and really appreciated the experiences I have had and the unconventional learning that has taken place. I’m certainly going to miss it all once we are back in Olin, studying Spanish in a classroom again.
*Word of the week: “tiquismiqui” = Picky/Finicky