This weekend is our very last one in Cadiz. Two nights ago, we had the wonderful opportunity to witness a real Flamenco performance and feast on tapas! And, to make sure that we could take advantage of this weekend to the fullest extent, my roommate and I set some time aside to make sure to visit Playa Victoria, a beach site not far from our house.
We took the bus at around 11 this morning, and headed out to the beach, bocadillos (sandwiches) in hand! There, we swam, we sunbathed, and we ate. Afterwards, we were off to do work at Cafe Camacha, a local cafe with internet access, with a large American clientele.
We also met a neighbor in our apartment building today. This was experience I will never forget, because she invited us into her apartment, though we were almost complete strangers and showed us her entire house. She proceeded to show us pictures of all her children and grandchildren and we told her about our program and our stay here.
It seems like many students on our trip are using this weekend to finish up their research projects, since it is the very last opportunity to do so. We also have two final exams next week. It seems the bittersweet end to the program is fast approaching, but many activities are yet to come! 🙂
This weekend we took our second weekend trip and in doing so we got a chance to visit the beautiful Granada, only four hours away (by bus!) from the University of Cadiz campus. It seems we were able to cram a lot of sightseeing into a brief day and a half.
First, we were able to visit the Catedral in Granada. It was difficult to keep a group of twenty-four groggy students together throughout the span of our brief tour, but somehow, as if my magic, we all made it through the tour safe and sound. Our tour guides Ruben and Antonio certainly gave life to the Catedral’s history. For example, we played a guessing game with architectural terms we had studied in Art History class, which kept me attentive. The day culminated in a midnight excursion to an ice cream stand, and more importantly to a point in the city which looked out upon the Alhambra, which was the next day’s primary destination, in addition to the Capilla Real.The Alhambra was full of winding passageways, mocarabe designs, and tons of and tons of water. When we were done with wandering everywhere throughout the day, a bunch of students stopped for wonderful frozen yogurt! How lovely! Granada seems to be more of a student town than Cadiz, and bigger at that. Overall, I definitely enjoyed my brief Granada weekend getaway, despite the cold I am still struggling to get over. Now, I’m off to do homework. It’s crunch time. 🙂
I feel as though my first few weeks in Cádiz have just flown by! I’m going to be a senior at William & Mary next year, and it seems I have made the best possible decision for me in deciding to study abroad here for five weeks this summer!
There are several reasons I have decided to do just that. I am a History and Hispanic Studies double major with a passion for languages and travel. For me it was not a decision about whether I would study abroad, but rather when and where the experience would take place. I had been thinking about the idea since my first semester at William and Mary three wonderful years ago, but at first did not feel emancipated enough from my own family and home in Falls Church, Virginia to leave for so long without them. Perhaps I still felt I had some growing up to do in that sense. Well, last Fall I began to feel restless. Despite being blessed with a family who has always encouraged me to see the world, and who has even on numerous occasions uprooted me somewhat by force in to new countries and cultures, I can honestly say each experience abroad brings with it its own, unique beauty. Above all else, I decided to take the plunge abroad all on my own this time around, and I think that that is exactly what is making the experience so rewarding! I look forward to each and every day of this program.
We were on our way to Pittsburgh. When we passed gallant windmills similar to those described in Cervantes’ Quijote, I feared we might be lost. But, it wasn’t until we read the sign that said “Welcome to Ohio,” that I became certain we were indeed lost. That’s always been a staple in my life: getting lost in new and (hopefully) exciting places. On a good day, I used to call this type of event an adventure. On a bad day, I might have regarded it more as a nightmare. Well, I believe that almost every day is a good day if you look at it in just the right light, so here’s to adventure.
It was late March and I felt excited—a brand new adventure had just begun. I was taking my learning outside of the classroom. Throughout my entire college career as a Hispanic Studies Major at The College of William & Mary, I’d jumped at the chance to learn about the cultures and literatures of Spanish-speaking countries as well as their histories. Now, I was traveling to the University of Pittsburgh to present a paper at a conference with some colleagues and Professor Regina Root, whose Fashioning the Nation class I had taken the previous semester.
I had attended Professor Root’s book discussion and signing for ‘Couture and Consensus’ the week prior to the Pittsburgh trip, during Spring Break, at the Library of Congress, since I felt inspired to learn more about post-colonial Argentina’s cultural history after reading her book for the class Fashioning the Nation. Also at the Library of Congress, I met several experts in the field of Hispanic Cultural Studies who have in due course become mentors to me. I spent six weeks of the summer helping the Hispanic Division organize and locate rare and reference books that were a part of the Jay I. Kislak Collection, a special gift given by Mr. Kislak of over 4,000 books, artifacts, and maps that dealt primarily with pre Columbian art, but which covered closely related topics as well.
We finally did make it to the conference, albeit somewhat late (We actually made it to Ohio first!) There, I presented my paper, written for Professor Root’s class—Martín Fierro: La encrucijada del dolor y la política, for which I won the Juan Espadas Prize for best undergraduate paper written and presented at the 2011 Middle Atlantic Council of Latin American Scholars. I have submitted it for publishing in the MACLAS journal. It was not the prize I won, though, that convinced me I was right for this field of study. Nor entirely that others might be interested in reading my work. It was my discovery that research was an adventure in more ways than one, and precisely that sense of adventure made me eager further to pursue my research interests.
In fact, I am confident that I will continue my work in Hispanic Studies, as I have already begun my honors project to be completed next semester, which I intend to present at MACLAS 2012. In it, I am conducting an ecocritical and socio-political study of the 20th century poetry of Pablo Neruda and César Vallejo, and definitely can see myself studying 20th century Latin American literature from a similar perspective in graduate school, where I hope several professors might have an interest in working with me to further research of this type.
I won’t always have the right answer, I may not be able to always comprehend numbers, I may mistake left from right sometimes, and I may end up in Ohio while heading for Pittsburgh, but as long as I keep that sense of adventure, I’m not lost.