The first full week in León is well underway! The students have encountered many new experiences this week (and have handled each one like veteran travelers!): traditional Spanish lunches at Casa Blanca (the restaurant where we eat every weekday afternoon), academic classes, afternoon activities, and continuing to explore new corners of this beautiful city that we get to call home for the next six weeks.
The group has had the experience already in the past few days to experience some typical dishes from León - among the most interesting of these have been gazpacho, squid and potatoes in squid ink, a trout served whole (complete with the head). We've been very impressed with the adventurous palates of our students - they've been not only willing but thrilled to sample new and strange foods. (Please excuse the photo quality - sadly, the lighting was not as optimal as the food in Casa Blanca).
Of course, the first complete week in León has also brought with it coursework and afternoon activities. The students have begun daily classes in Culture, Linguistics, Advanced Grammar, and Literature. It is a lot to manage (along with getting to know a host family, a new city, and a group full of fellow program-mates), but they've done an admirable job not only of arriving to classes prepared with their work done, but excited, ready and eager to learn. We four instructors have cheerfully agreed on a number of occasions this week that we couldn't be happier with the effort and enthusiasm that we've observed in this group academically.
The students have only had an introductory taste of afternoon activities, but they are off to a dynamic start! Quite a few have signed up for the Latin dance class (which I have the distinct honor of teaching), and they had a BLAST! I've taught Latin dancing to various groups for almost a decade, and rarely have I ever seen a group of students connect so immediately with it. A number of other students signed up for a combination theater group, which everyone is very excited about. This group will work with traditional theater pieces as well as comedy, satire, and improvisation. The specifics, of course, are kept safely confidential until the farewell performance at the end of the summer, so the rest of us will have to be satisfied with our suspense for now.
This Friday, we depart on our first official program excursion to Astorga and Ponferrada - two beautiful cities conveniently located close to León. Rest assured, many photos and stories will follow this excursion; as a quick teaser, we'll be visiting a chocolate museum (with a chocolate gift shop!), a palace designed by Gaudi, and a centuries-old Templar castle. I'll look forward to sharing the next chapter of our adventures soon.
Hasta la próxima,