Charming Spain: Feeling the Cultural Pulse of Spain in Summer


In order to promote cultural exchanges between China and the West, students’ foreign language and broaden their global visions, 17 students and teachers from Zhejiang University's School of International Studies participated in a 20-day Spanish summer program at the University of Alcalá (UAH) in Spain in July 2019. Through intensive Spanish courses, language development activities and cultural trips, the students and teachers improved their Spanish and deepened their understanding of Spanish society and culture.

Learning Spanish in the hometown of Cervantes

Located next to Madrid, Alcalá is a small historic town that nurtured Cervantes, author of Don Quixote. It is also the place where UAH resides, which is one of the oldest universities in Spain. The university, free of enclosure walls, is fully integrated into the city. In this ancient institution of higher learning, the participants of the program attended courses, e.g. on Spanish language and culture. Chinese students were encouraged to express their ideas in Spanish by witty and humorous Spanish teachers in lively classrooms. The Spanish language is no longer the still words on books, but a vivid means for communication for students.

Language development activities: language learning outside classrooms

In addition to traditional classroom learning, this summer program also organized a series of extracurricular activities, including Spanish films, visits to the Museo Arqueologico Regional and the Library of UAH, therefore, students had a clearer understanding of the history and culture of Alcalá and the University.

Cultural trip: immersed in the artistic temperament of Spain

Visits to places of interest in Madrid and Barcelona at weekends were also included in the program. They went to Museo del Prado, one of the three major art galleries in the worldand famous Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía to appreciate the paintings of masters such as Goya, Picasso, Dali and Miro. They also visited Sagrada Família, the most famed work of Gaudi, a distinguished Spanish architect to enjoy the charm of this unique building.

The success of the ZJU-UAH Spanish Summer Program has cemented the ties between the two universities in teaching and promoted the internationalization of the SIS. Moreover, it has broadened the students’ global vision and local insights.

Students Comments

“As a student majoring in Spanish, this study tour allowed us to learn authentic Spanish courses and to visit many tourist attractions. In the courses, the teachers instructed us with appropriate local textbooks and highlighted classroom participation by encouraging us to express our opinions in Spanish. In our spare time, we were shown around places of interest by the teachers from the University, which helped broaden my understanding of the history and culture of Spain. I have learned a lot from this trip”.

-- Wang Xinran

“If you have ever seen the Spanish sky at 10 p.m., you will understand how much this program impressed me.  

The first thing to mention is definitely the Spanish classes which benefited us a lot. Relaxing and pleasant learning atmosphere in a Spanish environment is the best to improve our Spanish. Humorous and responsible teachers tried to help us understand Spain and Spanish-speaking countries better while practicing our oral language. Moreover, the Spanish scenery and cuisines brought us great comfort and enjoyment after our trips. Clear but dazzling colored windows in the church were often accompanied by solemn or sad religious stories; strange or lively artworks in the museums recounted the anecdotes of the artists vividly; Paella and Tapas brought us a new taste of richest Spanish style.

I bid a difficult farewell to Spain. If only I could take a beam of sunshine back”.

--Lv Weiyi

 “This program in Spain means a lot to me. It seems that rigid grammar in books suddenly became alive, and photos I had seen before became real scenes that can be felt in reality. I think I will always miss this hot summer in 2019. I will miss red brick student apartments, witty teachers, mouth-watering paellas, friendly restaurant owners, puzzling renfe, lovely bus drivers, beautiful Sagrada Família…Twenty days is long and short. Those short and fulfilling moments linger in my mind whenever I recall them”.

--He Yunke

In the past, I just learned some aspects of Spain from books and teachers. I finally got a deeper understanding of Spain, its culture, and language in the program. Having been exposed to the exotic culture featuring clothes, foods, accommodations, new language environment and strong cultural and artistic atmosphere, I had a better understanding of Spain, not only about enthusiastic people, but more about its vivid and diversified culture. Words fail to express my strong emotions. Moreover, the experience reminded me that the learning of the Spanish language should be a challenging but joyful thing.

--Yu Jing

Spanish sunshine made me relaxed and imagine the infinite possibilities of the future. The enthusiastic people love sunshine, laughing and chatting. We felt everything was just right in this quiet little town of Alcalá, Madrid where we stayed and learned. Every morning, I roamed in cool air, greeted bus drivers, and attended classes with church bells. In the evening, I drank beers with grandpas and grandmas on the extremely lively square. Learning and enjoying life changed a lot of things.

Every city in Spain has its unique temperament. Sigonsa offers tranquility, oldness, and humanism, Barcelona, romance, tenderness, joy of people playing in the sea... We went to many places to explore, and to create a lot of memories together.

--Xu Nuoyan

This is undoubtedly a time worth cherishing and a journey worth remembering. This sunny summer belonged to Spain. I can still remember we felt wind blowing the shadow of trees, light fluttering eyelashes while lying on park lawns; we looked around in ornate palaces with flannel, silk walls, scepters and crowns inlaid with sparkling rubies; we gazed at devout disciples departing with hymns and bell chimes. We appreciated the gods in oil paintings stretching out their palms with compassion. We will have a lot to review, to digest in cold winters. Silent and warm Iberian Peninsula watched our flight heading to the sky. How I wish my old friends and I can revisit Spain some day”.

                                               --Cha Yihan

Translated by Geng Yuanjun

Edited by Xu Xueying

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