Pitt in Spain 1 – Introduction

Hola! My name is Liam Tinker and I’m a rising sophomore at Pitt’s Honors College. I’m studying English Literature, Philosophy, and Mathematics with a certificate in Medieval and Renaissance Studies. As if that wasn’t enough, I also have strong interests in the beautiful Spanish language and hispanophone literatures. Outside of school, I’m involved at WPTS (Pitt’s radio station) as erstwhile music staffer and soon-to-be podcast director for the 2022-23 academic year. I’m also an—admittedly semi-consistent—member of the Spanish Club. In my free time I am an avid reader and enjoy going for runs in Pittsburgh’s wonderful city parks. In the future, I hope to continue my studies in grad school and eventually teach at a university. 

Over the summer I will be attending the Pitt in Spain program at La Universidad de Alcalá—a gorgeous school with buildings dating back to the early 1500s—where I will study Spanish culture, literature, language, and film. The university is located in Alcalá de Henares, the birth city of Miguel de Cervantes and perfect place to study his famous Don Quixote (the core text for one of my June classes!). I am so excited to develop my Spanish skills, expand my vocabulary, and hopefully make the leap from being a person who spends 30 seconds thinking to build the perfect Spanish sentence in their head to a fluent speaker. Studying and living in a Spanish city over the summer will give me a wonderful opportunity to cultivate both my academic use of Spanish in reading and writing, and conversational proficiency in everyday interactions. Furthemore, no matter where I direct my future literary studies the exposure to Spanish literature (and language skills for more independent reading) that the program offers will be invaluable in developing my acumen for cross-cultural analysis. 

While in Spain, I intend to take full advantage of all the incredible opportunites that come with residing in the area around Madrid. At the Prado (or Museo Nacional del Prado, to be precise), I plan on devoting plenty of time to viewing the works of Francisco Goya, the museum’s collection of which is completely unrivaled. Goya, famous in his day for portraiture, is now probably most well known for his less conventional side-projects: an unnerving and surreal series of paintings—las Pinturas negras or the Black Paintings—created while he recovered from a life-threatening illness and Los desastres de la guerra (The Disasters of War), a hidden-under-the-bed collection of prints documenting the atrocities of the Napoleonic occupation of Spain. Needless to say, I’m thrilled to be seeing these works at the Prado, and that’s just one example of all the spectacular things there are to see and do in Spain’s capital! I’ll be sure to keep you posted on what else I’m up to while I’m away!

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