Monday, June 2, 2008

France and Spain Trip











Education is more than just books and classrooms. The International study program at Vol State helps students experience the world. A recent faculty organized trip to Spain and France included Vol State students who received scholarships to help cover the expense of the trip. Here is a blog by faculty member Kay Grossberg about the trip:

We arrived in Paris, France on May 14, tired but ready to explore Europe. We first visited Giverny, France, home and gardens of Monet, leader of the Impressionist painting movement.

Next we traveled to Tours, a beautiful historic city. Lots of university students were around because European college classes don’t end until mid-June. Like in a fairy tale book, the Loire valley of France was green and filled with castles and wineries.

Highlights of France—Amboise castle and the cathedral of Chartres, France, for their history, size and details, especially the stained glass windows of Chartres. All of Paris, which is a vibrant city full of surprises. Aimée singing opera in the Paris metro. Of course, French foods and wines—crêpes, sauces, snails (only some of us liked this dish!), French pastries, croissants, café au lait, more. Eating in France was a daily delight.

In Paris we visited the Louvre museum and saw the famous “Mona Lisa.” We found out there was only one painting by a woman in the Louvre since women historically could not become painters. Women sure have come a long way! We explored the Museum of Orsay, a restored 19th century train station filled with Impressionist works—Renoir, Degas, Manet, and Van Gogh, for example. One night we took a boat ride on the Seine River and watched the Eiffel Tower light up like an ornament.

Then on to Spain via the night train and sleeper coaches. We were four in a room on the train—cozy, but memorable!

What can we say about Spain? It is so lovely, and people there seemed so relaxed and full of joy. We visited the Dali museum and the Costa del Sol (Spanish coast by the Mediterranean Sea) before moving on to our final destination Barcelona. We strolled the streets and markets and visited the Picasso museum, along with the cathedral and works of world-renowned architect Gaudi. And we loved Spanish foods—tapas style, where everyone gets to taste small portions. We drank sangria and ate paella, yum! We noticed that dinner in Spain starts about 9:00 p.m., and people eat and talk in restaurants until long after midnight.

Everywhere we went people were gracious and kind (only one man screamed at us on the subway—but that’s another story). Travel made us realize that people everyone are more alike than different.

No complaining about gasoline prices from us when we returned. Gasoline in Europe costs approximately $8.00 per gallon! Europeans walk more, take public transportation, drive smaller cars, and live in the city to conserve gasoline.

We had a wonderful and life-changing trip. “Learn to travel and travel to learn” is our motto. Students--there are many travel opportunities out there for you during your college career, so take advantage. You will be glad you did.
Volunteer State Community College

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