An Academic journey when in Cádiz…

My experience in Cádiz has been a truly adventure, I am taking two classes in Spain, they are a methodology class in Spanish called “Nivel Superior” and a “History of Contemporary Spain” class. These two classes are responsible in making me quite busy during my time in Cádiz, I must admit. I really like the two of them, however it is my first time taking a methodology class, it is a very exciting and diverse class, for example we have students from Cádiz, San Fernando, Chiclana but we also have from Russia, Italy, and Germany and of course me from the Dominican Republic. This course is taught in Spanish and is called “ Curso de Formación Práctica para Profesores de E/LE , Nivel Superior”. It essentially translates as a practical formation to teach Spanish as a foreign language, for superior levels. I love this class because I have classmates that have 25 years of teaching experience, others who have traveled outside Spain to teach Spanish, and others like myself who just finished their undergraduate degree and are starting or about to start their master’s program.

So far, in this course we have worked in groups and have created different activities including a plan of study for an indicated level of Spanish to teach. For example, my group and I chose to create a plan of study for a B1 course which is the equivalent to a 300 level Spanish course in the U.S. My group and I focused in the imperfect and imperative and used it as main topic of our unit, I was not able to present along with my group because I had a program excursion to Tarifa, Vejez, and Bolonia, but at least I contributed to the creation of the plan. We all agreed to keep the unit very interactive, since learning another language can be sometimes frustrating we made sure to pick activities that were both instructive and fun.

Since this project, we had to adapt a text to different levels of Spanish classes, for example I learned how to adapt the same text to a B1 level to a A1 or A2 level. It goes as following: level A1 is the elementary, A2 the basic, B1 is the intermediate, B2 the advance, C1 the superior, C2 is the level where we help polish everything the student has acquired. For our last two project, we have to read the material and for this coming Monday, perform an oral evaluation to actual students at the school, I am looking forward to this activity since last time I was in a similar position was two years ago in 2015, when I worked as a Spanish teaching assistant for the MIT/Wellesley Upward Bound Program.

Lastly, for our final project we need to work in groups and create and design a hypothetical exam we would give to a Spanish as a Foreign Language class. This, is both challenging and interestingly fun to do, because as teachers we would have to keep in mind how to stay in balance for our students, we would not want to make the exam too easy or too hard. Because ultimately, we want our students to learn Spanish and not intimidate them or make them feel inferior. I trust we would make a great final project and of course do very well presenting our final product to the class!

Overall, I have learned so much! In class and my teachers are amazing, both Foncu and Macarena are great teachers, today I learned that Foncu and I have the same favorite author, Eduardo Galeano. He informed us that next week there will be an homenaje to Galeano at the Café Teatro Pay Pay, which I definitely plan on going!!!

I am glad I came to Cádiz; the experience has been extraordinary! Because “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

The book for our class, where we extract many of the material along with class discussion and other suplemental materials

Dear Cádiz

Dear Cádiz

Hello it’s me! I am so glad I was able to come visit you, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Europe for the first time. I’ve been able to explore the varieties of neighborhoods as well as emblematic site of the city. It’s only been a week and I already love it, because it’s charming and majestic. Beautiful, Cádiz you are filled with rich history being one of the oldest cities in Europe, founded in 1100 BC, later becoming a territory occupied by the Romans, Muslims and later by Alfonso X and home of the Spanish Navy. Today, Puerta de Tierra built in XVIII separates the old town of Cádiz with the new town.

Between the old and the new Cádiz, I rather much stay with the old due to the romance and beauty of walking through out the small cobbles streets while looking at the Spanish style architecture is simply spectacular. The iconic plazas all over the city are a great place where families and friends get together to simply enjoy the pleasures of life and to enjoy a nice afternoon. My favorites so far, are Plaza San Antonio &  Plaza de Mina since it’s so close to my house and it’s filled with trees, flowers and remarkable arquitecture.

A quick anecdote is that when I first arrived to Cádiz last Sunday, my luggage never arrived, as a result I had limited change of clothes, I was pleased to know I had brought a change of clothes in my backpack for just in case. However, everything I brought was in my luggage and a few days passed by and still no luggage. Fortunately, the airline agreed to reimburse me for the money I had spent on a few clothes piece and personal items while I waited for the luggage to arrive. By Wednesday, I received great news! The airline found my luggage and had it delivered to my house. I was glad and able to say that thanks to my optimistic attitude I was able to remain calm and collected despite the fact I didn’t have any of my belongings with me after a long tiring trip. Yes! It’s crucial to always have a positive attitude despite the obstacles life presents to you, I partly credit this good attitude to my Buddhist mediation practices.

To tell the truth this unexpected event of my luggage being lost for a couple of days did not prevented me from enjoying the beauty I had in front of me. Cádiz, surrounded by two seafront forts, San Sebastian and Santa Catalina, because of the seafront Cádiz has the luxury to offer magnificent sunsets which of course are my favorite part! I can appreciate as I walk by Campo del Sur and head to Playa la Caleta, de la Victoria or los corrales.

On Friday we went to an excursion to Bolonia, Tarifa and Vejer de La Frontera, personally I enjoyed the beautiful white scenery of the houses in Vejer. It was truly an amazing experience not to mention I’ve seen Africa from Tarifa!

Cádiz, to me you are unique because you have everything I look for in a city, simplicity, elegance, romance, history, culture, art, beach, nature, friendly people and delicious food. Cádiz es muy guay!!

Diana Estrella

Walking by Campo Sur at Sunset

Picture of a pink peony in Vejer de La Frontera

Playa los Corrales, at sunset

Walk behind Parque Genovés

Top of Catedral de Cádiz

Vejer de la frontera, view from La Cobijada statue

Playa los Corrales


Que es Flamenco?

¿Que es Flamenco?” translates to “What is Flamenco?” To the people living in Andalucia, the southern autonomous community of Spain, Flamenco is everything. Flamenco is a genre of music that includes singing, dancing, guitar playing, and many other styles. Although America is called a melting pot today, Spain can be thought of as a melting pot as well since it has been influenced by Greeks, Romans, and Phoenicians. These power houses constructed Spain as we know it today. Flamenco specifically adopted some characteristics of Arabic as well in the music.

During my time so far in Cadiz, I have had the opportunity to watch live concerts (Part 12), learn to dance Flamenco, and talk about some of the history with locals here. Like any other expression of art, Flamenco isn’t something everyone does here, but it is something everyone shows appreciation for. Try talking at a concert while someone is belting out a piece, and you will definitely be hushed by the crowd! I have grown to appreciate the passion performers convey; its incomparable to any artists I’ve seen in the United States.

Although just skimming the surface for now and will be learning more about Flamenco during my time here, I got the chance to hear a break down about how Flamenco it all flows together. Today, two local performers spoke generally about it all. To summarize , here are some facts I learned today along with my own observations:

  1. Flamenco to Andalucia is like Jazz to America. Its an expression of how the artist’s feels. This can be the sorrows felt during their hardships throughout their life, like a break up or living in poverty. It can also be a way of story telling with a more upbeat and happy vibe.
  2. Flamenco dancing is not easy to do. During my first class, I felt like I had two left feet and could not coordinate my arms. Although I went in and danced with confidence, it definitely did not look good. Also, it didn’t help that I had no idea what the dance commands were in Spanish so I blindly followed along in the mirror. I enjoyed myself in the end which is all that matters :).
  3. Flamenco must be done with soul and passion. Google “Flamenco” and you will see many artists whether singing, dancing, or playing an instrument using great expression while performing. Look closely at the change in facial expression or the strength and tone in the voice.
  4. As I mentioned before, its not something everyone in Andalucia does. Flamenco is not something that can be learned, but something innate.
  5. Clapping isn’t just clapping. There are ways that one shapes their hands to change the sound and arms must be held up about shoulder height. Two ways I’ve learned is the cupping of both hands to make a deeper sound, while fingers to a slightly cupped palm makes a higher sound. Clapping is used to keep the rhythm whether it is or is not accompanied by an instrument.

    Here I am (right) trying to practice the clapping rhythm with a classmate

    Our amazing Flamenco teachers showing us how to clap on beat

Here is a clip of an activity we did with our Flamenco teachers

While in Cadiz, I have the privilege of studying at the University of Cadiz where class isn’t just learning how to speak the language, but also learning about Cadiz and Spanish culture as a whole. One class we were able to discuss one of the most well known guitarist, Paco de Lucia. He changed the game when it came to playing Flamenco. His skill set was incomparable and his stage presence left people in awe. Paco de Lucia crossed into other genres like classical music. I could go on, but you just have to see for yourself how amazing this man truly is (click here). Another artist I have to mention is Cameron de La Isla who is a well known Flamenco singer. I may be giving biased reviews due to the fact they both are Cadiz natives, but they truly have unique talents. Here is both Cameron and Lucia working together.

Although I am half-way through the program, I am so happy with all that I’ve learned so far and I look forward to what’s ahead. Cadiz is such a lively city thats full of vibrant culture and welcoming people. Its no surprise why its called “The Smiling City”. Every day I can’t help but smile and know I’m experiencing a completely different lifestyle in a historical town  learning another language.