Sunday, June 26, 2016

Last saturday in Spain


Today was the last time traveling with The Citadel.
We went to Segovia, which is about an hour and a half away from Madrid. One of the most famous thing to see in Segovia is the aqueduct. The Roman Aqueduct was built at the end of the 1st century and it has been used until the middle of the 19th century. Even though it is old, it still looked well maintained and fully capable of doing its job. Aqueduct will be the first thing you notice as soon as you arrive to Segovia. During this short trip, we also checked out Plaza Mayor, Cathedral, and Alcazar.

Last friday in Spain


Today was the last day of learning Spanish at Estudio Sampere. Despite the fact that I dislike summer classes, I was honestly happy and excited to go to classes everyday and learn Spanish with my amazing teachers and friends from The Citadel. I am truly thankful for this opportunity and all the hard work from both professors at The Citadel and Estudio Sampere.

After classes, we went to go see Flamenco, which is a traditional Spanish dance. It is known to be originated in the southern areas of Spain but it was hugely influenced by other cultures like Latin American, Cuban, and Jewish traditions. I am not a huge fan of art of dancing so I personally did not pay too much attention to it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Cordoba Trip

To finish off our long weekend, we drove to Cordoba on sunday to see the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba. Over the past few centuries, the mosque transformed into a Roman Catholic church with many different architectural styles. It was absolutely stunning to see this building in real life because there were so many history and details such as the arches, the orchard, the cathedral, the chapels, and the history about this building.

It was an amazing experience to see all the different religious architecture from a time when the world was peaceful and forgiving.

Seville Trip

After we visited Granada, we drove to Seville and spent another day exploring beautiful cathedrals and buildings in Seville.

The Torre del Oro overlooked the Guadalquivir. It wasn't the highest tower ever, but there was also a small museum within it that made the trip worth it.

My favorite part of Seville was the Plaza de Espana. It was a beautiful park in the middle of a crowded city. I thought it was the perfect place to get away from the busy streets and enjoy the view of an amazing building. There were also boats on the small lake in front of the building, the spanish version of mini venice. Within the building, there were little symbols for every cities in Spain. My buddy and I didn't realize that the symbols were displayed in alphabetical order, so we ended up wasting 15 minutes walking and trying to find the symbol for Madrid.

Granada Trip

Granada was definitely one of the most unique cities I have ever been so far in my Spain trip.
Granada is in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain and it is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, even though it was June, we were still able to see some snow on top of the mountain. Unlike Madrid, Granada had an Arabic vibe throughout the city and the environment was so overwhelming and amazing because I have never been in an Arabic environment like Granada in my life. After talking to few Arabic workers in the street, I learned that they were all getting ready to close their stores for the night to get ready for Ramadan.

The Alhambra is a famous palace and fortress complex located in Granada, Spain.
It is known as one of the greatest masterpieces of Arab art in the world as it is also part of UNESCO World Heritage site. It was first built as a simple fortress in the ninth century and the word "Alhambra" means "The Red", which is the color of the material used in its construction.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Barcelona Part 2

After eating breakfast at the hotel, we explored Barcelona with a tour guide from 1100 to 1930.
First, we went to downtown Barcelona to see all the local stores and some of Picasso's work in Barcelona. We then went to Park Güell, Sagrada familia, and Barcelona beach.
Unlike Madrid, there were a lot more cathedrals in Barcelona. I thought that Barcelona had more history in general as well due to the catalans wanting independence.
- Cathedral in Barcelona with Professor Blanco.  

- Park Güell is one of the most impressive public parks in the world. The park is located in Barcelona and was designed by famous architect Antonio Gaudi.

- Gaudi's original plan was to construct a residential park that can hold up to sixty single- family residences from 1900 to 1914. However, the project was unsuccessful and the park shortly became a city property in 1923. Even though, it is still not completed, the park itself is portrayed as one of Gaudi's most colorful and amazing works.

- Sagrada Familia was dedicated and consecrated as a basilica by the Holy Father Benedict XVI and became a holy place open for worship on 7 November 2010.
-The church has 4,500 square metres where 8000 people can come in and worship.

- Five generations have already witnessed the temple’s rise in Barcelona. Construction is still on-going today and could be finished in the first third of the 21st century.

-Picasso's work in downtown Barcelona

Barcelona Trip Part 1

Today, I left the best city in the world to visit the home of La Liga champion Barcelona.
I had to wake up by 0530 and get ready to ride the metro to our pick up destination with my roommate. It was painful to be in the bus for about 8 hours but it allowed me to sleep and recover from all the morning classes I have been taking for the past two weeks. By the time we got there, it was time for lunch. Due to the fact that Barcelona people spoke another language called Catalan, it was hard for me to practice my spanish and communicate with people. Spanish is the primary language spoken in Spain, but some regions in Spain uses different languages. Catalan is spoken in Catalonia (northeast region of Spain, including Barcelona), Valencia, Andorra, and a few other places. We had nothing planned for the rest of the day so I went outside and walked around to see local parks and stores in Barcelona. One thing I realized was that lot of people spoke English as their secondary language here in Barcelona. Some people knew that we were from the states just by looking at our clothes and gestures, so every time we went to places in Barcelona, people often responded back to us in English.

My friends and I walked to Camp Nou, Barcelona after dinner and had the chance to tour the stadium, which ended up being the highlight of my Barcelona trip.

Visiting al Musero Reina Sofia

After having classes from 0900 to 1215, we visited the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía to learn about the Spain's collection of 20th century art. In 1992, the museum was named after the Queen of Spain, Dona Sofia. It is considered one of the most important museums in the world because it focuses on the work of modern art such as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, Salvador Dali, and many other great Spanish modern artists.

Luckily, I was fortunate enough to take art appreciation class this year and learn about some of these artists back at The Citadel. My personal favorite artist was Salvador Dali for one reason. Salvador Dali was unique and creative. Dali's art represented creativity and uniqueness to express his life and what he saw and believed. If you look at his art, you start to wonder what exactly he is trying to symbolize or represent. For example, one of his most famous piece is called The Great Masturbator, and it does not look normal at all. When I first saw this piece, I knew that it had to do something with sexuality but I could not figure out what it represented. I asked one of the guides and she said the painting deals with Dali's fear and loathing of sex because when Dali was a little kid, he accidently read his father's extremely graphic book on venereal diseases. Therefore, he created this art to show his negative feelings toward sex. The collection ranged from a lot of pieces that were interesting and unique, to several that were so abstract that you just have absolutely no idea what is it.
The Great Masterbator by Salvador Dali

Monday, June 6, 2016

Toledo Trip

Our first trip together was to Toledo, Spain, which is about 70 km south of Madrid.

- Catedral exemplifies the charm and historic buildings that was built during the years 1226 and 1492. There were works from numerous famous artists to represent the catedral.

- Toledo

- Cadets from the Citadel are listening and learning about the history of Toledo.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Day 2- Hola

Today was a very tiring day. I had classes from 0900-1230 then I slept from 1400-1800 as soon as I came home from school. Surprisingly, everything has been quite perfect. Cultural shock is common among immigrants and foreign students. However, due to the fact that I have already been through many cultural shock in America when I first moved to the United States at the age of twelve, I think I have learned to quickly adapt to different environment and social structures. For me, one of the hardest thing right now is eating dinner around 2100-2200. Spaniards tend to have late lunches and dinners for some reason. My roommate and I often compare our trip to knob year and joke about it because we seem clueless and confused most of the times here in our host mom's house. Instead of bracing everyday, we smile and practically agree with whatever our host mom says not because we can't communicate but mainly because she has high expectations and standards for us. However, this isn't a problem at all because I have been a cadet at the best military college for the past three years in my life, which means that I know how to act like a Citadel man and show respect to others.

I can already start to feel that I'm slowly getting better at Spanish but it is definitely going to be an intense one month of studying Spanish.

PS- I also walked about 2.9 km to see Atletico Madrid's Stadium

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Day 1- First day with Mama Mary

Two clueless amigos from The Citadel have successfully reunited again in Madrid, Spain to live with a Spanish host family and further our education in Spanish. My host mom's name is Mary and she lives few minutes away from Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, which is home of Real Madrid soccer team. When I first met Mary, she had trouble pronouncing my name so she decided to just simply call me "Pepe". So now, people call me Pepe here in Spain. 
Approximately 44 students from The Citadel will be taking two classes from Estudio Sampere and live with our own spanish host families to emerge ourselves into spaniard culture.
Spain has always been my #1 favorite country to visit solely because of the fact that soccer is extremely popular in Spain. I was fortunate to arrive here few days earlier and see Christiano Ronaldo and his crew in Puerta del Sol, Madrid and attend victory party in Santiago Bernabeu stadium to celebrate their 11th Champions League trophies. Every morning when I wake up to go to school, I pass by the Real Madrid Stadium and get butterflies in my stomach. 

-Sungho Park
1 June 2016

- Real Madrid Stadium

-Palacio Real de Madrid