Today we travelled from Narita airport to our hotel in Tokyo (the buffet was really good and there were French fries for breakfast). After a relatively long walk we reached a traditional Japanese style hotel so we’re sleeping on the floor, there’s a traditional tea set and slippers for indoors. In the afternoon we walked from our hotel to Tokyo Dome to go on rides, do shopping and go sight seeing. All the people with a death wish went on a massive roller coast, in the rain, that went through a building. Tokyo dome was very different to anything I had ever seen in Adelaide before and there was also a J-pop band with a bunch of screaming fan girls there, it looked like some of them had camped out for the whole day to see them. There was also a basketball game on at the same time (the Tokyo Giants versus someone else) so I bought a t shirt. Tomorrow we’re doing touristy things and walking a lot. We’ve been to a lot of 7/11s and told a lot of puns already.
Day 1 I woke up 3:00 to complete packing and left at 3:45. My parents drove me to the airport and once we arrived we waited until the group was fully together. We bought our boarding passes and dropped off our luggage and went through the international security. Heads up, don’t pack your passport away until your actually waiting to board the plane. I kept on packing away my passport! Finally we boarded the plane for Hong Kong at 6:25 and it took 9 hours. The fight was smooth enough, there was entertainment and free food. Once we landed, our group went for a toilet break and then we boarded at 4:10 for our Tokyo plane, it took 4 hours and a half and was the best flight yet. Once we were minutes away from landing, everyone got really excited! Unfortunately, didn’t get any good photos as I was sitting in the middle of the plane, but it was pitch black anyways. We took the shuttle bus to our airport hotel and it looked very luxurious from the outside! The room Ellie, Vivien and I were staying in was on level 6, room 61. It was nice and cozy and a nice view over the airport, although you can’t see much as it is nighttime. However, the shower was a bit hard to get to function and turning the lights off was troublesome! So far my Japan experience has been fantastic and very exciting, It feels very surreal!.
On the 14th of April we went on an outing to the beautiful UNESCO World Heratige sites of Segovia and Ávila. We spent the two hour bus ride napping and singing terribly! Once we arrived in Segovia, we toured the historical castle, the Alcázar of Segovia. The tour taught us a myriad of interesting historical information, we even saw a beautiful mural of the wrongful Queen Isabella and her court of blind men. This painting was a social commentry of the time, which illustrated how everyone in her inner-circle turned a blind eye. Then we chose to climb the seemingly infinite number of stairs of the tower of the Alcázar and were rewarded by the stunning view of the city. The Álcazar is the castle that inspired the one featured in Walt Disey´s Sleeping Beauty. Then there was some free time to enjoy shopping and eat at lovely restaurants before we made our way down to the Roman Aquaduct - a structure designed and built by the Romans to carry water to various parts of the city, which incredibly, still stands today. We then drove to the walled city of Ávila where we climbed the once impenetrable city walls to do a two kilometer walk around the top. The city's doors were once locked everynight and the citizens required the king´s permission to leave. After a quick photo at the panoramic lookout we began the 100km began bus trip back.
On the 13th of April, we spent the early hours of the day at Enforex, learning and further exploring the Spanish language. At around 2pm, we met with our teacher and tour guide - Alexia - and set off on a tour of the Salamanca university. We learnt that four colours represent each sector of the University. I found the tour insightful and almost nostalgic as many of the rooms resembled the Harry Potter world. Once we returned home, we had lunch with our homestay families and later made use of our siesta and free time. I’d like to say that what followed our free time was by far a highlight of the trip. At around 9pm, we met at Plaza Mayor and then went to a bar where we bought tickets to see a concert. The band that performed were ‘Alberto y Garcia.’ For an hour, we were treated to some of the most talented Spanish performers we’ve seen. Once that came to an end, everyone retreated to their own homestay houses and got ready for the morning trip to Segovia. In summary, the day will go down as one of the most enjoyable and memorable days of our stay thus far. I would like to especially thank Shane and Lia for letting us go to the concert.
Some highlights from today’s full day excursion to the unesco world heritage sites of Segovia and Ávila. The alcazar and tower and the Roman Aqueduct followed by the walled city! Both were absolutely breathtaking! Tomorrow is a well earned rest and recuperation day for the students before were back to the classroom for our last two days in Salamanca!
After 6 days in Salamanca, it is fair to say we have all settled into this beautiful city. We have discovered the best local cafés with amazing hot chocolate and churros. Like most tourists, we have bought the ‘Universidad Salamanca’ jumpers of all different colours. All the different colours represent the different subjects, for example; blue represents philosophy, red represents law and yellow represents medicine. After our morning class and lunch with our host family, it was time for the cultural activity! We visited the museum of modern art of Salamanca, featuring the artwork of Felix Curto ‘I am the cosmos’. We were taken on a guided tour of the museum why have explained the artwork and their significance. The theme of the exhibit was the artists journey through Mexico. Something interesting I interpreted from the experience is the importance of the journey rather then the destination itself. After the museum, we were dismissed and went our separate ways. Some went shopping, or continued exploring the city. The last few days have been an adventure in itself with testing our Spanish and exploring the beauty of Spain. The Spanish lifestyle is growing on each and everyone one of us and we are loving it
After 5 days of cold weather, we woke up today to a full day of sun. For the first half of school we continued on learning about present and reflexive verbs as well as different parts of the body. We also practiced speaking and listening mainly by talking about lots of spanish street food. Towards the end of the lesson, Seb showed us a magic trick which he did perfectly! and after our 20 minute break, we were back in class with Alexia. This lesson also focused on speaking and being able to hold a conversation. We spoke about the differences between Australia and Spain. We learnt about differences in jobs, nightlife, student life and sport. Alexia also taught us some Spanish slang such as ¡que guay¡ (how cool) and we taught her some Aussie slang. After school was over, we got the opportunity to go to the markets and look at the way business was done, which was a unique experience since we don’t usually see things like this back home. After a great siesta, we returned to Enforex to watch Ice Age in Spanish. Not only was this a fun experience but it was also a great way to learn new vocab and rewatch an old time favourite. We then returned back to our homestays to eat dinner and rest up for another (hopefully warm) day. ¡Adios!
Today, after another day of school and a well-deserved siesta, we met with our guide and headed out for a tour of the Cathedral Vieja. Outside was very cold, but once we moved inside, we were absolutely in awe. The expertly carved stone pillars and spectacularly high ceilings towered above us as we walked through the cathedral, admiring the centuries old artwork and architecture. Calming music played through speakers hanging on the walks as we continued to gaze at the expert carvings and areas reserved for prayer, featuring statues and paintings of saints and other religious figures.
After, we ascended higher into the tower and viewed artefacts and living areas from when the cathedral was a public place of worship. Venturing outside, we were chilled by the rain and small flurries of snow, so we quickly returned inside.
Next, we climbed several narrow, winding staircases which seems to continue forever, until we reached the outer railing of the cathedral, from which we were able to look out across the beautiful city of Salamanca. Despite the breathtaking view, we hurried along, eager to find shelter from the freezing cold.
Following another dizzying climb, we emerged onto a narrow balcony that surrounded the inside of the cathedral. From there, we could see across the massive space and look down on where we had been before. Despite our height, we were overwhelmed by the size and scale of the building. Soon, we climbed to the topmost bell tower of the cathedral, just as the bells began to toll above us. The scale of the building was indescribable.
However, as with each passing second we were becoming more frozen, we quickly made our descent to the ground floor. Overall, our experience of the cathedral was phenomenally breathtaking, if slightly overshadowed by the freezing weather.
Our first full day of study began today at 8:30. We all headed to the Enforex where we met the leader of the Spanish department Isabella. She ran through some of the school rules and then informed us that we would be taking a test to place us into appropriate levels based on our abilities. The test was 80 questions long and took about half an hour. When we finished we were pulled aside for a short interview where we were asked how long we had been studying and what areas we would like to improve over the next week. Once everyone had finished we were separated into our groups and headed off to our first class. My first teacher was Teresa, in the class we all wrote out basic self-introductions and read them aloud to everyone else. She corrected us on grammar and made sure we were using the correct tenses. Teresa had a hard time pronouncing some of the names in our group which was really funny and she also couldn’t believe that we go to school for over six hours in Australia it didn’t make sense to her! At 10:50 we broke for a 20-minute recess and then returned to class with a different teacher. My second teacher was Alexia in her class we did different activities to learn different types of food. At 1:00 we left school for the day and headed home for lunch and a siesta. At 4:00 we met Alexia outside of the Enforex and she took us on a tour of Salamanca. On the tour we saw the two Cathedrals which were so beautiful and the details in the stone was so incredible. At one of the entrances to a church there was a large stone wall across from the university and it has engravings all over it and on it. On the wall there is a tiny frog that you have to find and it is said that if you find this frog you will have good luck on your exams. When we got to the wall there were lots of people looking as well and once one person spotted ‘la rana’ (the frog) everyone seemed to find it too. To end our tour Alexia walked us all to the Plaza Mayor where we were dismissed for the day ready to go home, have dinner and get ready to do it all again tomorrow! Even though it was super cold and it rained Salamanca was still muy bonita. Adios!
Well, its been whirlwind couple of days in Seoul. We have been to the royal palace, danced K-pop, visited Seoul Tower, seen Taekwondo and drumming performances, seen the future at Samsung D'Light and eaten every Korean meal we can think of ... but we are still wishing for more time. See you all tomorrow!!