Friday, July 25, 2008


At ISU every person is part of a team project, which is the focus of the second half of the summer. The team project I´m on is called ¨Spaceports¨. We´re investigating different spaceport designs and issues, and will be carrying out a case study on creating a spaceport in Lleida, Spain. Lleida is currently building a new airport - its located inland in Catalunya.
On Wednesday, we took a team trip out to visit the site of the airport, which would also be the location we´ll use for our spaceport case study. We took a high speed train to get from Barcelona to Lleida. Traveling around 300 km-hr, it took us about an hour to get there. During this time I was able to catch some of the movie Ratattouie in Spanish. I was really happy with how many of the words I could understand. I´ve been trying really hard to study Spanish and ask questions about how to say things, but I´m definitely still a beginner - this becomes very obvious when I try to have a conversation with someone in a bar or restaurant.

Anyway, we arrived in Lleida around 3pm and spent about a half hour walking around a little plaza area and grabbing a drink. Then we walked to the city hall building for a presentation by the mayor. They ended the presentation by giving us each a very nice coffee table book about Lleida (though since it´s in Catalan, I´ll mostly have to focus on the pictures.) Then we had a reception with small pasteries and cava (Spanish Champagne).

The city hall was a very cool building and had been built in the 15th century. They took us to the basement where you could still see part of the city wall built by the Romans. There was also a room that used to be a prison and had religious carvings that had been made by prisoners hundreds of years ago.
After the tour, we loaded a bus and headed out to the airport construction site. We all wore hard hats and reflective jackets and got a tour of the facilities. It was interesting to see what was being done there, but difficult to hear any of the presentations. Construction sites are not the best location for discussion.
Then it was back into town for a traditional Catalonyan dinner. We had a great salad with meats and cheeses, shrimp, bread, oil, and some kind of pepperoni-like meat. The main course was french fries and three types of meat - some kind of sausage, ribs, and pork, I think. There was a cake for dessert, and then more cava. We finished the night with a bit of espresso. It was definitely the biggest meal I have eaten since I got to Spain and all of the food was very very good. I´m definitely going to miss it when I go home.

After dinner, we took a bus instead of a train home. Since dinner doesn´t start in Spain until 9pm or later, we didn´t get home until around 1am. The schedule for completing the team project work is very hectic, and since we had used our team meeting time to go on this field trip, we were feeling nervous about an upcoming deadline. We need to turn in a letter of intent - including the mission statement, scope, organization, and schedule - in the next couple of days. We decided to hold a slightly chaotic meeting on the bus, so things were pretty crazy on the way home. I think ít´s just a taste of the craziness to come in August...

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