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Jueves- Viernes (Thursday-Friday) in Madrid: Sábado return home

La Rambla, a pedestrian mall in Barcelona, is a popular attaction for tourists and locals.
3/9/2011 —


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From LaRambla in Barcelona to Royal Palace of Aranjuez in Madrid, from the Alhambra in Granada to the Giralda in Seville, Penn State New Kensington students are experiencing a week of Spain's culture over spring break.

Arranged by New Kensington's global program directors -- Bill Hamilton, assistant professor of biology, and Maria Franco de Gomez, instructor in Spanish -- the international trip to four cities in Spain is an opportunity for students to travel abroad and explore Spanish customs that has been influenced by a variety of ancient peoples including the Romans, Celtics and Iberians.

The 45-person travelling party includes 18 students, 10 faculty, 12 retired faculty and staff, and five alumni. The eclectic group will leave on March 5 and return on March 12. There are no classes on campus during annual spring recess, March 7-11.

Prado Museum in Madrid                          Royal Palace of Aranjuez in Madrid

The focus of the trip is the cities of Barcelona, Granada, Seville and Madrid. The itinerary includes guided tours and walking tours of historical buildings and landmarks, as well as free time for shopping and night life. Highlights include visits to: La Rambla, the tree-lined pedestrian mall;  the Royal Palace, one of the residences of King Juan Carlos; Alhambra, a 14th-century palace of the Moorish rulers, and the Giralda, a former minaret that was converted into  bell tower for the Cathedral of Seville.

In conjunction with the trips, students are required to take a related course that enriches their understanding of Spain and its heritage. For this trip, the students are taking the class "Iberian Civilization," taught by Franco de Gomez, that studies Spanish and Portuguese life from the medieval period to the present.

"We discuss a broad range of topics pertaining to Spain's diverse regions," said Franco de Gomez, the 2004 recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award for full-time faculty at the campus. "In addition, they are learning to appreciate Spanish art and architecture by the masters such as El Greco, Velazquez, Goya, Miro, Dali, Picasso, and Gaudi." 

For two of Franco de Gomez's students, Jimmy Baker and Grant Schoenfelder, it will be their first venture outside the United States. While there is minor trepidation, both are eager to experience the ethos and aesthetics of another country.

"I have never had the opportunity to do anything like this before, and I think that this experience is going to be one that I will never forget," said Baker, a junior communications major from Burrell High School. "However, I have never flown in an airplane before, so I am interested to see how that experience goes."

"I'm looking forward to visiting the art museums, seeing the buildings and experiencing the culture and language," said Schoenfelder, a freshman business administration major Franklin Regional High School. "I know some Spanish, but I am worried that it may not be enough."

To keep family members and the campus community updated on the activities of the globetrotters, a special blog has been created by Deborah Sillman, senior instructor of biology, and a member of the travelling party. Students will be able to write about their experiences throughout the trip and post on the blog. The comment function allows those at home to keep in touch with the globetrotters as they move from city to city. To view the blog and post comments, visit http://www.personal.psu.edu/dys100/blogs/spain/

Alhambra Palace in Granda                      The Giralda in Seville.

The global travel program was established by Hamilton and Franco de Gomez to give the campus’ students the opportunity to directly experience other countries and other cultures. The program provides students with a variety of opportunities to study in foreign countries for varying periods of time — week, summer, semester or full year. The objective of the program is to offer students a broader education than can be obtained through classroom experiences.

Penn State New Kensington has embarked on the promotion of greater awareness and understanding of world issues, international trends and global policy debates. Each year, the campus adopts a country or region of the world to inspire teaching and scholarship. Students, faculty and staff will explore and reflect on various aspects of India's history, culture and economic, social and political reality.

During the past seven years, more than 130 campus students have traveled to France, Italy, China, Greece, Peru and the Galapagos Islands. This is the campus' second venture to Spain. The first was in 2004, the inaugural international travel trip organized by the two New Kensington faculty members.

For more about global programs, visit http://www.nk.psu.edu/Academics/InternationalPrograms/intlprograms.htm




City orientation tour today includes views of Gaudi’s amazing art nouveau cathedral, Sagrada Familia, and the 1992 Olympic Games complex.

A walking tour of the Gothic quarter and Las Rambla; explore Catalonia’s most famous city before boarding your overnight train to Granada.

Orientation tour of the city--beautiful Alhambra, former residence of the Moorish Kings and the steep streets and narrow alleys of the Albaicín, the only Moorish neighborhood to escape torching during the Reconquista. Albaicín is Spain’s best preserved Arab quarter. Also notable are the fortress Albazaba, the Torre de la Vela water tower, and El Generalife, the sultan’s vacation retreat, and Gipsy Caves.

Important sights include Maria Luisa Park and the Barrio Santa Cruz, the historical center of Seville; the Cathedral, the 3rd largest in the world;  the Giralda, the minaret of the old Moorish mosque; and Christopher Columbus’ tomb. Other options include the Guadalquivir River Cruise to the site of the 1992 World Expo or a visit to a bullring.

Spain’s capital is full of diverse neighborhoods and lively plazas. Orientation tour of the city and opportunity to explore the vibrant nightlife.

A tour of the Royal Palace, home to Madrid’s royal family; visit the Prado museum and the masterpieces by Goya, El Greco and Rembrandt, the Plazas Mayor and Espana or the Puerto del Sol or the Gran Vía for some shopping.


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