Why I went: I studied abroad as an undergraduate, and felt that going abroad again in a graduate program would enhance my teaching.
Living abroad brings to life everything that you’re teaching, so that when you’re standing in front of a class, you have current, firsthand knowledge of the language, culture and political panorama of a particular country.
I remember attending the famous festival of Santiago de Compostela, which takes place in July. It’s a religious festival. You see so many people there, including foreigners who make the pilgrimage to see the shrine of St. James the Great.
Other memories include listening to the University of Salamanca La Tuna group. A tuna is a group of university students who play guitar and sing serenades.
‘An eye of your face’ and other idioms: I lived with a family in Salamanca, which is an invaluable opportunity because you are totally immersed in the language and culture.
Every language has idiomatic expressions. Until you are really immersed, you cannot pick up the nuances, the double-entendres. For example, we say in English that something will cost you "an arm and a leg," but in Spanish, it’s "an eye of your face."
Returning to Spain: In Salamanca, I met another graduate student from Buffalo. One or two summers later, we returned to Spain and rented a car and we drove the entire Iberian Peninsula, Spain and Portugal, for 30 days. We wanted to see everything.
Spain is a lifelong connection now. I have good friends in Spain, and I used to take students there for summer travel. We would go to Madrid, to Sevilla, Malaga, and yes, Salamanca, and Toledo.
I still cook Spanish recipes. There’s a Spanish sausage called chorizo, and, of course, paella, which I learned to make mainly from a family I lived with in Madrid during postgraduate studies.
What I’m doing now: I retired from teaching in 2010 after 30 years with the Horseheads Central School District. Throughout my career and schooling, I was exposed to museums and art history and different cultures. I now do my own drawing, painting and digital work. For me, art is language, and language is communication. Art is another way to communicate and connect.