This school week was full of field trips and experiential learning that took us outside of the classroom, including a class trip, a site visit with the program, and a paseo with Kike. After all the weekend trips we’ve been on and that are still to come, it’s good that we’re actually still taking advantage of all that we haven’t seen yet in Madrid.
Our first trip was on Monday during our soccer class. As I said earlier, a large number of our soccer sessions will be spent outside of the classroom for experiential learning. Next week we’ll be going to a basketball game and soon we’ll be visiting a newspaper, but this Monday we visited the offices of You First Sports, a sports agency that has a number of high-profile athletes as clients and also does a great deal of sports marketing. They are a pretty big agency in Spain and have offices all over the world, including the United States and China. Although they initially focused on fútbol, they have expanded to basketball and have signed a bunch of players in the NBA.
We learned a good amount about the what they do there, the challenges of working as a sports agent, and the benefits of having a large agency instead of a smaller partnership or sole proprietorship. Apparently being a sports agent really is a lot like Jerry Maguire, considering the person who was nice enough to talk to our class kept referring to the movie many times and used it as an example of how tough the job can be. 🙂 I think what surprised me most during his talk was how many clients they had and how spread out they were: they had Americans, Europeans, Mexicans, etc., playing both basketball and soccer on tons of teams in leagues all over the world. It must be hard to manage all those different types of clients, but I guess at the end of the day sports are very similar around the world.
The next day, Tuesday, Paco took us all on a group tour of the Palacio Real (Royal Palace)! Because Christy and I had some time to kill after class ended and before the meeting time, we decided to visit the Temple of Debod. I had heard about it from a few friends who had visited it, but hadn’t been there yet, so we took advantage of the beautiful day and checked it out. The temple’s pretty centrally located between Plaza de España and the Royal Palace, and not too far from ICADE, which is good because I had a class right after the tour.
The Templo de Debod is an ancient Egyptian temple right in the middle of Madrid… something we found very strange at first considering the Egyptians didn’t make it all the way up to the Iberian peninsula during their time. The temple was actually originally in southern Egypt, like you would expect, and was only sent to Madrid and rebuilt there in 1968. In 1960, Egypt decided to build the Aswan Dam to control floods, gain water for irrigation, and make hydroelectric power, but doing so would have destroyed the ancient Egyptian artifacts in the surrounding area. As a result, they decided to donate the temple to Spain to save the history and also thank for the help they and a few other countries gave when UNESCO called for money to save the Abu Simbel temples. The situation made a little more sense after learning that explanation, but it was still a crazy experience to be walking around an Ancient Egyptian temple in the middle of downtown Madrid.
After exploring the temple for a little bit, we headed to the Ópera Metro Station so we could walk over to the palace as a group. Though the Palacio Real is the official residence of Spain’s royal family, they haven’t actually lived there since they were exiled by Franco during the Spanish Civil War. After the war, Juan Carlos I chose instead to live in the safer Palacio de la Zarzuela outside of the city of Madrid. Even still, the building is hundreds of years old and holds a great deal of history with its architecture, furniture, clocks, paintings, and other collectibles all on display. Plus, as the official royal residence, it’s still used for state functions like receptions for visiting heads of state or people like Michelle Obama when they visit Madrid. 🙂 Getting to visit the palace with Paco was also great because it gave us a built-in tour guide who taught us not only about the actual palace and artwork, but also the history of the royal family and building’s construction. We learned a ton on the tour, we did something I probably would not have done alone, and I made it to class five minutes early even though I walked there from the palace.
Our field trips continued on Wednesday, where we went with Kike on a paseo por Madrid to the Museo Sorolla, a museum dedicated to a the Valencian painter Joaquín Sorolla. The museum is in a part of Madrid I actually hadn’t been before, near the Iglesia Metro stop towards the north of the city. Even though I hadn’t been there, it was surprisingly easy to get there and only a 25 minutes from ICADE — yet another example of how walkable Madrid is as a city. The metro station sits right outside a beautiful church, which makes sense considering iglesia means church in Spanish.
Though we met at the church, we had to walk a bit down the street to reach the Sorolla Museum, which actually used to be the artist’s home, workshop, and studio before it was turned into a museum after his death. Other than the fact that it’s a two-story house with a yard surrounded by a bunch of taller apartment buildings in the middle of Madrid, one of the main things that stand out about the museum is the gardens. Many of the plants were actually added by the artists himself and he designed them after the Reales Alcázares we visited in Sevilla and La Alhambra in Granada. I liked quite a few of the works on display in the museum. Sorolla had a few different styles over his career, ranging from more realistic works to more impressionist ones, but almost all of them were pictures of Spanish people, life, and landscapes, as well as beach scenes. Because of this we were able to recognize many of the themes and items present in his paintings, and the ones we couldn’t were pretty enough on their own. Like all of the places we visited this week, this museum was another cool thing Madrid had to offer that got us outdoors exploring the city, enjoying the weather, and doing things we probably would not have done otherwise on our own.