Alex in Spain

A summer in Benicasim, Spain. An interview with Alex from Connecticut

Two years ago, Go Inspired started a program in Bethel, Connecticut. The goal was to begin an exchange program between Spain and Bethel, CT teenagers. The first year, there were 24 Spanish students from Castellon and Madrid, Spain enjoying the summer in Connecticut living with Bethel host families.

In the summer of 2015, one of the Bethel host brothers traveled to Benicasim, Spain to stay 3 weeks with the Spanish student he hosted. We had a chance to talk to Alex about his experience abroad.

Photo courtesy of Alex Staib

Photo courtesy of Alex Staib

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Alex Staib, I am from Bethel, Connecticut in the United States. I am currently 16 years old and I enjoy playing sports and traveling.

Why did you go to Spain this summer (and for how long)?

I went to Spain this summer to see my exchange brother, Edu. I went for three weeks during the months July and August.

Describe the place you went to.

I went to a beach town called Benicassim. It was very nice, as the beach was walking distance and easily accessible. Also the atmosphere in the town was very relaxed and easy going.

How was your experience overall?

The three weeks I spent in Spain were the best weeks of my life. I had such an amazing time and I can not even begin to describe how much fun my stay was. 

What were some of the cultural shocks/surprises you experienced?

Some cultural shocks that I experienced was that everything was in walking distance. This was a big surprise to me because in America if you don’t live in a city then you need to drive everywhere. Also another big shock to me was how easy going the parents were. In Spain we got to go to parties and go back home the next morning. In America we have nothing like this because we have to be home by 12 or 1 in the morning. However, the biggest cultural shock to me was how nice the Spanish people were. The Spanish people were so nice and there was no rush to go any were which really amazed me. For example, when I was going back home I had to take a bus to get to the airplane and on the bus an American said “I think the bus is full. Let’s go.” This showed me how much of a rush the American people are in.

How would you describe the teenagers from Spain?

The teenagers from Spain were amazingly nice and very intrigued into what the American life was like. I got a lot of questions regarding my life in America. Also, I made over 30 friends that I truly miss and can not wait to see again.

What are the teenagers’ lives like in Spain in the summer compared to the US?

The teenagers lives are very active in Spain. I say this because you see your friends every day and hangout with them every day. This can be going to the beach, grabbing dinner, swimming, or just hanging out. The Spanish teenagers stay out a lot later than the American teenagers do.  In America we do not hang out with our friends every day because we would have to drive there and sometimes they can live very far away.

Did your level of Spanish improve? Did you learn a lot of new expressions? Could you understand them when they spoke?

Yes, my Spanish improved vastly. I got to listen and comprehend Spanish for three weeks which really helped my auditory skills for Spanish. Also I spoke a lot of Spanish so, I got more comfortable with speaking Spanish. One thing I did not know improved until I went back to school was how much my pronunciation of Spanish words improved. I now speak a lot more fluently than I did before. Yes I learned a lot of new Spanish sayings and some that aren’t appropriate. At first I couldn’t understand them a lot of the times, but as my stay continued I understood the Spanish a lot more.

Why do you think it is important to travel?

I think traveling opens up so many opportunities for you and you get so many experiences and life lessons out of traveling. For example because I traveled to Spain this summer I now have like my own Spanish family which I would never have had before. You get so many experiences and stories out of traveling as well, you get to experience the culture, food, people. You also get life lessons like how to better yourself and you also learn what you are capable of. I think everyone should travel and I know now after this trip I want to travel the world and not be a normal 9-5 job in America, because that’s just so normal.

What were some of the activities you did while there?

Some activities I did in Spain were going to the beach, swimming, walking, hanging out, playing tennis, playing soccer, playing beach games, and partying.

What food did you enjoy?

The food in Spain was amazing like so much better than the food in America. Everything I ate tasted so rich, fresh, healthy. I loved eggs with potatoes, and ham.

Anything you didn’t enjoy about your experience?

I have to be completely honest, there was nothing I didn’t enjoy. I wish I knew Spanish better, but besides that and my ear infection everything was perfect. Even with my ear infection, and not being able to sleep for two weeks I loved everything.

Do you have any plans to study abroad in the future?

Yes, I will study abroad in Spain in the future. I loved everything about Spain and who knows maybe one day I will be living there. This trip opened up my eyes to how much I love traveling and I found what I want to do for the rest of my life.

Does this change your perspective on the US/Spain?

My perspective was greatly changed. I now am a changed person due to my trip. I now have a more positive outlook on things in life. I also believe Edu coming to Bethel and me going to the Spain was just meant to happen.

Did you have any embarrassing moments related to the culture?

I would have to say no, but I probably asked a few silly questions during my time there.

Would you recommend this experience to other teenagers? Why or why not?

I would recommend this experience to other teenagers in a heartbeat. I feel that not only should you host a foreign exchange student, but you should also go their country as well. I say this because you will learn so much about yourself and what your limits are. I conquered a lot of my fears during this trip and now I am a better person for it.

Thanks, Alex for being so candid about your experience. We wish you luck in the future and we are thrilled that you got to go to Spain and learn about the Spanish culture first-hand!

Top 10 Rookie Study Abroad Mistakes" title="Don’t Make These Mistakes When Studying Abroad">Summer Trip to USA

Top 10 Rookie Study Abroad Mistakes

We all make mistakes when we first travel abroad and that is how we learn-all part of the experience. No matter how much you prepare, you will always reflect on how you could have done things possibly in a different way when it’s over and that’s OK! But check out this article for some great advice when studying or traveling abroad to Europe.

Top 10 Rookie Study Abroad Mistakes

Group Interior Design

Italian Design Workshop in Italy Week 2

Week two started with a tour and tactile experience behind the scenes at one of fashions best artisans. We were able to see the many patterns and materials that go in to creating woven goods for the fashion industry, what a great way to inspire textile use in Interior Design!!! After a morning of looking at the samples he creates for clients we were able to tour his design work shop and his factory work shop and see how an idea from a design label becomes a reality in Andrea’s studio.

So interesting to see the artist process! 

Rain was not our friend for travel, but the group persevered and made it to the furniture icon showroom of Self Habitat where we were able to sit in some of the most renowned chairs in modern design history. Learning about Italian designers and the process from which they get their inspiration to how they create the end product and all the considerations was an eye opening experience for all.
The week was not all field trips as studio time is needed to get the final projects done! So a few days of creating and workin through their own artist process was accompanied by a visit and lecture from Fabio Leoncini, the architect for Ferragamo. Fabio showed his international works to the group and talked with them about the ideas and concepts of Ferragamo and what he has to produce for them. Fabio walked the group through the drawings that he did for the latest instillation at the Museo Ferragamo and explained the level of details, down to the exact shoe that he had to provide for his high end employer!
As week two wraps up the group is well on their way to creating amazing attempts at interpreting Equilibrium inspired by Museo Ferragamo.
Some even had a chance to go to the Ballet while in Florence!
Ballet and Design
Trips for Italian Design in Italy

Italian Design Workshop in Italy Week 1

What does a shoe designer to the stars, Ferrari, Indiana Jones and James Bond have in common? Week one of Summer 2014 in Florence with Go Inspired!!! Italian design Workshop in Italy

The first week has been jam packed with intensive studio time and trips around Florence and Italy. Expanding the ideas of the participants as they adventure through their first week living abroad is just the beginning of what Go Inspired offers.
So, beginning the week at Museo Ferragamo the participants are treated to a fully comprehensive docent tour of the museum and any and all questions are answered between the docent and Katia. Everyone left the museum with visions of their project incubating in their minds! This years exhibition is Equilibrium and so viewing the balance of life and design will play into their final projects. To see a different perspective on a designer museum, Museo Gucci was next in the list. Gaining knowledge from various designers and architects and what Florence has to offer kicks off this project of Equilibrium!
Ferrari, ah the gorgeous lines of pure Italian design, but it is the leather seats that connect us back to Go Inspired! An afternoon trip to S.P. A. Z. I. O. 360  and Palona Frau showroom is a sensory filling adventure, from marble, terra cotta, wood species, to the buttery soft leather chairs.  The guided visit walked us through the world of Italian design with an emphasis on the materials used to create great works.
 Italian design in Italy
Friday, the group each turned into their best Indiana Jones as we climbed aboard a Land Rover and made our way up to the mine sites of Carrara! The mountain paths are not for the faint at heart, but the prize was amazing!!! The vast sea of marble cut out from the mountain was awe inspiring, breathe taking, amazing! The view from the peak let you see out the the sea and understand why Carrara is perfect, with mining and distribution so compact. The guide was amazing to give us time for photography as well as to answer the endless questions this group of designers had! We descended down a road used in Quantum of Solace and became part of the history of movie making in Hollywood and Italy! After an amazing drive through the caves we arrived in to see where the great Italian sculptures picked their marble. A walk through the town of Carrara for Marble Weeks and this group was ready for a relaxing train home to Firenze! Ciao for now!
Trips for Italian Design Workshop
Summer in USA

4th of July Weekend!

Everyone enjoyed the festivities of 4th of July in different ways. There were trips to Lake George and Cape Cod. There were also some pie-eating contests and a Brad Paisley concert. With less than a week under our belts, everyone is getting adjusted to American life.

Summer in CT

Summer in CT

Summer in CT

Summer in CT

Summer in USA

Summer in USA

Summer in USA

 

Advice from Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray Love

We came across advice from Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love and we wanted to pass it along to our readers. We hear advice along the way as we are growing up and some advice we receive is good, other times it is just not applicable at that moment and even once in a while, it is bad advice. But if we are open to listening and being true to ourselves, we will find our true path. Here at Go Inspired, we encourage you to travel, travel and travel some more! Learning about other people, cultures and beliefs is a way to make this world a bit better of a place.

This was taken from Elizabeth Gilbert’s facebook on advice she wrote to a daughter of a friend.

“Out into the world you go! Here is some advice along your way: Stay out of debt! Keep your expenses low and learn how to live without luxuries so you can have a bigger and more free life, unbound by the fear of the bill collector. Remember that Autonomy Is The God of Woman. Never give your heart or your body to anyone who doesn’t view you as a precious treasure. Never use another person’s heart or body as a way to pass time while you’re waiting for real love to come along. Don’t ever expect somebody else to hand your destiny to you — go out and find it. Follow your curiosity bravely, because ultimately it is your curiosity that will lead you to your passion. Remember that you are not made of sugar candy: You are stronger than you think, more powerful than you could ever imagine. Therefore, stay near people who know that you are strong and stay away from people who fear that you are weak. Character is more important than personality, both in yourself and in your friends. Learn how to be happy alone. Listen more than you speak. (I’m still learning this one!) Don’t worry what anyone is thinking about you; they are only ever thinking about themselves, anyhow. Don’t smoke. Don’t ride motorcycles — especially not in Southeast Asia. Floss. Wear your seatbelt. Don’t drink sugary sodas. Try to be creative for a half an hour a day. Save your money (have I mentioned this?) and give yourself the gift of travel. Don’t get married too young: Statistics show that the happiest women are those who delayed marriage. (In the meantime, if you want to wear a pretty diamond ring, you can always buy one for yourself.) Be interested and you will always be interesting. Have FUN!

Love, Liz”

By: David Pursehouse

St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

If there is one thing we know is that the Irish are known for their love of beer and having a good time. So why not join them for what is sure to be a great party! St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th each year.  It is the one national holiday that is celebrated in more countries around the world than any other!  St. Patrick’s Day is the day when everyone wants to be Irish.

History of St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s day marks the accepted date in 493 CE of St. Patrick’s death. It was made an official Christian feast day in the early seventeenth century and is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Lutheran Church. The day celebrates St. Patrick (the patron saint of Ireland) and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. It also celebrates Irish culture and heritage. Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, and of course  wearing of green attire or shamrocks. Christians also attend church and the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day, which has encouraged and propagated the holiday’s tradition of alcohol consumption.

St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador and Montserrat. It is also widely celebrated around the world; especially in Britain, Canada, the United States, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.

What we know about St. Patrick

  • Most sources agree that St. Patrick’s actual name was Maewyn Succat. They also agree that Maewyn was kidnapped and sold into slavery at age 16 and, to help him endure his enslavement, he turned to God.
  • Six years after his captivity began, St. Patrick escaped from slavery to France, where he became a priest, and then the second Bishop to Ireland. He spent the next 30 years establishing schools, churches, and monasteries across the country. He brought Christianity widespread acceptance amongst the pagan indigenous peoples.
  • It is thought that St. Patrick used a shamrock as a metaphor for the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), showing how three individual units could be part of the same body. His parishioners began wearing shamrocks to his church services. Today, “the wearing of the green” on St. Patrick’s Day represents spring, shamrocks, and Ireland.

How to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

  • Wear green. Some popular t-shirts say “Kiss Me I’m Irish”.
  • Dress like a leprechaun.

    By: edera

  • Accessorize with buttons or anything Irish related.
  • Learn some Irish words. Our favorite is “Eejit”. Eejit is the Irish word for idiot. If someone does something silly or stupid, you can comment “Ah ya big eejit!” It’s not meant to be offensive, rather it’s used to make fun of someone in a playful way.
  • Learn to Irish Dance. You will be the hit of the party!

Where to celebrate

Places all over the world seem to find ways to celebrate the luck of the Irish.

Our first suggestion is to go to Ireland.  There’s no better way to celebrate the quintessential Irish holiday than a trip to Ireland! Dublin, the capital city, usually holds a five day festival in honor of the holiday and is the location of Ireland’s largest and most impressive St. Patrick’s Day parade. The city buzzes with life over the course of the festival – thousands of tourists flood the city and the pubs are overflowing with travelers and locals alike, eager to “drown the shamrock”. So if you’re looking to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in true Irish fashion, this is the place to be!

Check out some major US cities.  Chicago dyes its river Green. New York City and Boston have incredible parades as well as parties.

Malaysia. The St. Patrick’s Society of Selangor, which has been in existence since 1925, organises the annual St. Patrick’s Ball, the biggest St Patrick’s Day celebration in Asia. Guinness Anchor Berhad also organises 36 parties across the country.

Russia. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in Russia in 1992. Since 1999, there is an annual international “Saint Patrick’s Day” festival in Moscow and other Russian cities. The Moscow parade has both official and unofficial parts. The first seems like a military parade and is performed in collaboration with the Moscow government and the Irish embassy in Moscow. The unofficial parade is performed by volunteers and seems more like a carnival and show with juggling, stilts, jolly-jumpers and Celtic music.

If you can’t head anywhere exotic, just head to an Irish pub. After a few pints, you will sure to have a few new friends.

Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day!

 

Information for this article was taken from:

www.stpatricksfestival.ie/

www.wikihow.com/Celebrate-St.-Patrick%27s-Day

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick%27s_Day

 

 

Courses in Spain

Should Spain adjust its work schedule?

Spain Work Schedules

If you have ever been lucky enough to be on the coast of Spain in the summer, you undoubtedly understand why dinner is at 10 or 11pm. With the sun setting around 9:30pm, there is just so much day light to do things…whether it is taking a nap, eating tapas, sunbathing or just hanging out with your friends.  You would also realize that their schedule/timetable/”horario” is a bit different than most countries and pretty much revolves around eating.

Spanish bocadillos

Work can start around 8 or 9am but if you are waiting for a supermarket to open early, good luck. “Early” for most is 9:15. Then, most workers have “almuerzo” around 10 or 11. This almuerzo is usually a “bocadillo” (sandwich). Back to work they go (helpful advice: don’t go to government offices around 10-11:30am as most workers are having their break and will not wait on you). Then soon enough it is 1:30 or 2 and it is eating time again. Workers who live nearby often go home where they eat and sometimes take a siesta. Soon enough it is 4 or 5 and they must return to work (civil servants usually stop working at 3 and banks close at 2:30 so good luck getting anything done if you are busy in the morning).  Workers then work until 7 or 8pm depending on their job.

Spaniards days are long. And some are asking that the Spanish government change the clocks. Will it happen? Check out the New York Times’ article on the topic.

Spain, Land of 10 P.M. Dinners, Asks if It’s Time to Reset Clock

 

Commedia dell'Arte

Celebrating Commedia dell’Arte and Commedia dell’Arte Day

Commedia dell’Arte Day

 

Commedia dell'Arte

Commedia dell’Arte Day is celebrated on February 25th each year. The Commedia dell’Arte Day is promoted by the Italian Cultural Association SAT. All over the world on February 25th there will be performances, concerts, workshops and lectures as people join together to celebrate Commedia dell’Arte and its origins.

For those of you unfamiliar with Commedia dell’Arte, here is a brief explanation into this interesting type of theatre.

The Beginnings of Commedia dell’Arte

Commedia is an improvised type of popular comedy that was born in Italy in the 16th–18th centuries and is based on stock characters. Actors adapted their comic dialogue and action according to a few basic plots (love, jealousy, money) and to issues at that time (most are still relatable).

Many Commedia actors traveled in troupes throughout Italy in the 16th century. They performed on temporary stages, mostly in city streets, but occasionally even in court venues. The better troupes—notably Gelosi, Confidenti, and Fedeli—performed in palaces and became internationally-known. Music, dance, and witty dialogue, contributed to the comic effects. It spread throughout Europe, with many of its elements leading into present-day theater.

Performances

Performances were based on a scenario which was a basic plot, often a familiar story, upon which the actors improvised their dialogue. Therefore actors were at liberty to tailor the performance to their audience, allowing for sly commentary on current politics and bawdy humor that would otherwise be censored. Sometimes using sexually challenging language and physical comedy, Commedia poked fun at elements of society’s respectable values by means of exaggerated styles and insightful character traits.

Though humor and jokes were the main part, Commedia dell’Arte was a very disciplined art which required both virtuosity and a strong sense of team playing. The unique talent of Commedia actors was to improvise comedy around a pre–established scenario. Playing off each other, or the audience, the actors made use of the lazzi (special rehearsed routines that could be inserted into the plays at convenient points to heighten the comedy), musical numbers, and impromptu dialogue to vary what happened on stage.

Sets and Props

There were no elaborate sets in Commedia. The stage was simple, rarely anything more than one market or street scene. Instead, they made great use of props including animals, food, furniture, and weapons. The character Arlecchino bore two sticks tied together, which made a great noise on impact. This gave birth to the word “slapstick.”

Commedia dell'Arte

Masks

The use of masks was important in the development of this type of theatre. Masks required the actors to “act” in other ways through their body expressions. They combined acrobatics, dance and stage combat into their acts.

Actors

Commedia dell’Arte actors represented fixed social types seen in Italian culture. For example, there were foolish old men, devious servants, and egotistic military officers. Each stock character of Commedia evolved a distinct set of attributes—characteristic speech, gestures, props, and costume—that became standard to the portrayal of the character and still remains today.

The Audience

Performances were accessible to all social classes. Language was no barrier because of their skillful mime, stereotyped stock characters, traditional lazzi’s (signature stunts, gags and pranks), masks, broad physical gestures, improvised dialogue and clowning they became widely accepted wherever they traveled.

The style and formula of Commedia dell’Arte survives to this day by continuing the tradition as an artistic institution where gifted actors create some of the most memorable, historic physical characters the theatre has ever seen. It is from the Commedia world where such characters as Arlechinno (Harlequin), Columbina, Pulcinella (Punch), The Doctor, The Captain and Pantalone emerged to reign in theatre for centuries.

Go Inspired offers a 3-week Commedia dell’Arte workshop in Florence, Italy each summer. The course is taught by 2 professional Commedia dell’Arte actors.

The course in 2014 begins June 30-July 18. It is Monday-Friday, 4 hours a day with weekends free to explore Tuscany. The cost is 2225 Euros with housing included. For more information, please check out our website at: Commedia dell’Arte Workshop with Go Inspired

 

Information for this article was taken from the following sites:

http://italian.about.com/library/weekly/aa110800a.htm

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/comm/hd_comm.htm

http://shane-arts.com/commedia-history.htm

http://www.commedia-dell-arte.com/commediainfo.htm