One of the most amazing parts of Occidental is its healthy pressure on students to study abroad - to get out of their comfort zones and take a break from the wonderful bubble of a campus we have in Southern California. One fantastic byproduct of this emphasis is that while I am out here studying in Madrid, I have friends in Beijing, Nepal, New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa, Chile, Texas (campaign semester), France, and many other countries with an even larger assortment of cities. Though I cannot afford to jet on over to Australia or Thailand, I am very lucky to have friends spread throughout European countries within reach. One of the first few weeks of our program, my friend Habiba and I were fortunate enough to plan a trip to Toulouse, a city in the south of France, to visit our amiga Isabel.
While Isabel was in class the first day we spent in Toulouse, Habiba and I visited Saint-Sernin, an incredible basilica from ~1100 AD. Though it was under restorative construction at the time, walking through the high-ceilinged spaces was an amazing experience; the energy of millions (billions?) of visitors and worshippers could be felt from the minute we glimpsed the bell tower from a few blocks away. The church was quite dark, making photography difficult, but the photo in which a crown-like altarpiece is visible was taken down one of the aisles of the space.
We agreed to meet Isabel at the nearby library, but on our way there Habiba and I stumbled upon Chapelle Des Carmélites, a beautifully decorated open space. The photos of Habiba standing on a checkered floor in a heavily painted room or standing in a teal doorway are from this chapel. The photo of Isabel and Habiba in front of a faded orange wall was taken in the courtyard of the chapel.
I somehow got lucky enough to get the flu on our second day in Toulouse, and although I powered through the next couple of days, I decided not to bring my camera along after the first day, and so my last photos from the trip are that of Isabel standing with gargoyles from an old monastery-turned-museum, Musée des Augustines, and those photos from the streets of Toulouse.
The second half of this album is made up of photos taken back in Spain, in Toledo and Madrid. Our program had a group trip to the ancient city of Toledo, a city where the tri-religious culture of Spain is perhaps most evident. As we walked throughout the city, we saw many examples of Arab, Jewish, and Christian design, as I hope is evident in the photos.
The last three photos were taken from a boat in the lake of Parque del Retiro in the heart of Madrid. Pictured are two friends, Nicole and Justine, in front of the structure that marks the West side of the lake, and one photo of me solely for my parents enjoyment.
As I ride this train to Barcelona, writing this blog post as a child kicks the back of my seat and watching the countryside of Spain go by like one long ribbon, it’s nice to look back on the trips I’ve taken and the cities I’ve seen. As I said before, I am very lucky- soy afortunado.
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<p>My name is Ian Matthew Zunt, and I am from Seattle, Washington. I am currently studying Urban and Environmental Policy at Occidental College in Los Angeles, with minors in Art History and the Spanish language, and I am planning to join IES Abroad's Language and Area Studies program in Madrid this Fall semester. Coming from an arts high school in Seattle, I have realized a deep interest in all forms of art, from dancing and singing to acting and the visual arts. Through the solid presence of art in my life, I found a passion for photography, specifically with analog cameras and color film. Though I have somewhat moved away from art academically, I continue to create and to take photos for myself, taking part in local gallery shows and online sharing.</p>