By Laura Marsh
How have we made it beyond the halfway point already? It’s hard to believe that four weeks have come and gone. Only two weeks left in Spain, and it’s getting more and more difficult to mentally prepare myself to leave! It was a fairly short week in Madrid for me, since I spent Monday in Barcelona at the Europe Forum for the ABA’s Section of International Law and left for Valencia on Friday afternoon, but the days in between were by no means lacking in terms of activity.
Because of the way my course selection worked out, one of my classes ended last week and another ended this Thursday. The low point of the week was definitely having to take two final exams before leaving for Valencia, but I’m glad I got both exams finished so I didn’t have to worry about them while I was traveling outside of Madrid!
On Wednesday, we had the opportunity to visit the Constitutional Court of Spain. Professor Ignacio Borrajo Iniesta (who’s teaching our European Human Rights Law course) took us on a tour of the building, including the library, the main court room, and another larger auditorium. In the court room, he explained some of the differences between the ways Spanish and American attorneys present cases before the court. In Spain, for example, instead of standing in front of and below the judges, the attorneys are up on the same raised platform as the judges and remain seated while addressing the bench. We also got a bit of a history lesson on how the Constitutional Court of Spain came to be, post Franco, in the early 1980s. In the larger room, there was a massive Flemish tapestry hanging at the front of the space that weighed around a ton, which seems a little insane, but that’s because so much of the thread used in it was actually gold, making it much heavier than a traditional tapestry.
Friday morning, before leaving for Valencia, I took my second final exam of the week. As much as I was a little surly about having to take two exams this week, I knew that I wouldn’t have enjoyed my time in Valencia nearly as much with either one of those tests looming over my head! I was particularly excited about this trip, too, because Valencia is where I had studied abroad in undergrad during the summer of 2012! It definitely felt like a homecoming of sorts. After checking into our AirBnb, we headed back to the nearest Metro station to get as close as we could to La Ciudad de Artes y Ciencias (The City of Arts and Sciences). It was still a bit of a trek after getting off of the Metro, but it gave us a chance to see some more of the city that we wouldn’t have gotten to if we had just been underground the whole time. That’s one thing I kind of like about Valencia’s Metro system: it’s not nearly as extensive as either Madrid’s or Barcelona’s, so it kind of forces you to walk around more and really get a feel for the city.
Fun fact about La Ciudad de Artes y Ciencias: it’s home to Oceanografic, the largest aquarium in Europe. Fun fact about me: I’m terrified of aquariums. Luckily for me, though, no one in the group seemed particularly interested in going to Oceanografic, so I dodged that bullet this time around (I wasn’t quite so fortunate five years ago!). After walking around and seeing all of the incredible, modern architecture of La Ciudad de Artes y Ciencias, we called it an early night after a lovely dinner. The next day, the other four girls who had gone to Valencia with me wanted to spend most of the day on the beach, but as I’m not much of a beach bum myself, I spent a little while on my own walking around my old stomping grounds near Los Torres de Serranos in the historical center of the city!
I met back up with the group for a sunset cruise. The water wasn’t too choppy, but I was still relieved when we got back to the marina. That being said, the views were truly lovely, and it was a nice break from walking all around the city. Our train times were staggered on Sunday evening, but we spent the first part of the day in the historical center of the city. I loved getting to show my friends where I had spent most of my time during my last study abroad experience! I was so happy to return to Valencia, especially because I also got to explore parts of the city that I hadn’t gotten to before.
I was sad to leave, but I also knew that my time left in Madrid is coming to an end soon, so I need to make the most of these last two weeks!
Photos courtesy of Abbie Paloucek