Hello! I’ve been back in the United States for a bit now and as the fall semester starts I want to take a little time to reflect on my experience in Spain over the summer. Personally, I have become so much more practiced (and thus confident) at navigating new surroundings and adjusting myself to the culture of the people living where I travel. My two months studying helped me get my “sea legs” for Spain’s largest city, and my two weeks of subsequent independent travel gave me ample opportunities to put my new skills into practice as I changed location every two to three days. Even superficially small differences between the US and Spain—how does the recycling work? what is it like to order at a restaurant? will the train or bus show up on time? when are people out walking the streets and when are they inside?—could add up to a big learning curve, but also provide a window to understanding a unique way of life, sometimes similar and other times quite distant from that of my home.
On the academic/professional side, I have deepened my mastery of the Spanish language and gained a surprising degree of familiarity with Spanish history. After two history-rooted courses at the University of Alcalá, I was well prepared to interpret monuments and art works throughout Spain during my travels. As I enter my new courses at Pitt, I am excited to be taking a seminar on avant garde literary movements in Latin America, something that would have been well beyond my abilities in the spring.
In the future I would love to come back to Spain for a semester junior year, and am already looking at potential programs for studying at the University of Salamanca. I am completely incapable of expressing how much this summer meant to me, and while I am happy to be back with my friends and family in Pittsburgh, it didn’t take me long after getting off the plane to start thinking about how and when I could return to Spain.
Today’s images (sadly the last!) are from my two week of backpacking after the end of my study program. At the top I have a photo of “el bosque”—the tree-like supportive columns of the Sagrada Familia—taken from the steps of one of the cathedral’s famous spiral staircases. To conclude the post, I have some incredible rose blossoms found at the Generalife gardens inside the Alhambra; Spanish roses I will miss you!