The seminar has finally begun

Trip Start Jul 14, 2011
Trip End Aug 15, 2011

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Flag of Spain  , Valencia,
Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Seminar on Medieval and Early Modern Islamic Iberia began yesterday.  I am with a group of 14 other Spanish teachers.  We are studying Islam and Islamic culture in Spain from 711 to 1492.  Olga and Vicente walked with me to the University of Virginia's Hispanic Studies center in Valencia (the seminar is being offered by at professor from the University of Virginia) and I met up with the other program participants.  I feel lucky that I am only about a 15 minute walk from the center; some of the other participants are on the other side of the city and have to take a bus to get back and forth.  (If you look at the little map to the right, #8 is the location of the school.  The red line goes to a green dot which is the location of my apartment.)

Class was from 4:00 pm until 8:00 pm.  We will have the same schedule today and tomorrow.  Starting on Thursday we will have a morning session as well as an afternoon session.  I think they are going easier on us for the first few days to let people adjust to the time change.

The program started up with a short orientation on living in Valencia, knowing what facilities are available to us at the Center, etc.  Then we launched right into our first class over the history of early Islam (the first 100 years or so from its inception) and of the Visigothic period of Spain (Visigoths were in Spain prior to the arrival of the Muslims).  A lot of information to take in, but all very interesting.  Today we are going to talk about the spread of Islam into Spain (beginning in 711).  

When I got home last night Vicente and Olga were just going out to pick up Olga's son (Guido) and his half-brother from the bus station.  They are visiting from Argentina.  Olga's other son, Manuel, lives here in Valencia.  When they got back from the bus station, Manuel also came over and there was a family reunion dinner here that went from 10:00 pm until midnight.  Guido and his younger brother (whose name I don't remember) were quite tired after having traveled for 23 hours straight, but they still engaged in lively dinner conversation.  I enjoyed hearing the different accents (Argentinian and Valencian) and also enjoyed the discussion of the different words which are used in each country -- example:  banana (Argentina) vs. plátano (Spain).  I didn´t get to sleep until rather late last night (sometime after 1:00 am), so I am feeling quite tired today.  

This morning I decided to go out and explore the neighborhood a bit more.  Valencia is the 3rd largest city in Spain, so it is a busy place with lots of people, cars, shops, bars, etc.  My first stop was at a corner kiosk to purchase a 10 ride "bonobus" which allows me to ride the city buses.  If I need more than 10 ride while here, I can go back to the kiosk and recharge the card.  Then I went to the supermarket that Vicente pointed out to me yesterday.  It is about 1/2 way between here and the school.  I wanted toothpaste because I had only brought a very small tube with me.  I decided to walk all around the supermarket, however, just to see what was there.  I'm sure I will be back there to buy other things as time goes along.  After that I came back to the apartment using a different route so that I did a loop.  I have much more of any idea now of what this part of the city is like.  Tomorrow I will probably go into the city center by catching the bus that goes right near the apartment.

The apartment is on the 9th floor of a fairly big apartment building.  An interesting thing about the building is that you can choose to ride either an inside or an outside elevator.  The outside ones are glass so that you can look out on the city as you go up or down; I've decided that I like those ones best.

I have some reading to do for class now. Also I want to put my feet up.  I am having a bit of a problem with swollen feet and ankles.  I did some reading about the problem just now and found out that I should drink lots of water, elevate my feet whenever possible, and walk.  (Seems like it is because I am not used to the extreme heat.)  Funny that I didn't have this problem when I was in Spain 2 years ago.  So...I am signing off to elevate my feet!

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Lacie on

It looks so neat there! How hot is it? We have had 90+ degree weather here! I might as well have gone to Spain too :P...I really liked learning about the origins of Spain because it seems like two completely different cultures (Celtic and Arabic) combined to form an even more different one (Spain). All throughout history it seemed like there was this push and pull between los moros y los cristianos. We studied a lot about the northern cultures too. Keep having fun and good luck with your feet :( For some reason my feet were swelling up too when I went to Morrill last week. Maybe it's caused by the study of Spain?

Stuart on

Take good care of those feet. Hopefully it is just getting acclimated to the heat. I hope the instructor is interesting. Have fun exploring the city! I wish I were with you...

Julie Doyle on

Its fun hearing about each section of your adventure Cathy! Sorry about the feet, that is no fun, reminds me of when I was pregnant.

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