Written by Emily Syrjala ’18
This post was written while in Professor Elena Iglesias-Villamel‘s spring 12-week trip to Santiago de Compestela, Spain in 2017.
It’s one thing to sit in a class room and learn about a country halfway across the world, but when you are sitting in a city full of history dating back hundreds of years it is a whole different entity. While in Spain we took a total of three courses. Two of them were with Elena our professor from Hiram and the other with a professor from the University of Santiago.
The two classes we took with Elena were history based. The first class was a more traditional history class as we followed a text book and learned about the first inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula. We eventually made our way to the 19th and 20th century when we switched to our new class where we learned about the Spanish transition to democracy through the movies. How might you ask did learning about Spanish history enhance my overall experience in Spain? Well while there we took many trips to small cities in Galicia (the province Santiago de Compostela is located) and to bigger cities such as Madrid, Granada, and Sevilla. In those cities stood various architectural cites, such as the Alhambra in Granada (pictured above) which was one of my favorites, many of which we learned about in class so being able to stand in a building that we had just spent weeks learning about was a very rewarding feeling.
The third class we took with the Spanish professor was my favorite class because that is where I believe I learned the most Spanish. Academically speaking it was rewarding to actually see my Spanish improve throughout the twelve-week span of this class. However, this class didn’t only enhance my experience because of the Spanish that I learned, in this class I also met many other students that would become my best friends while in Spain. All of the students I met were from other countries. We had students from Norway, Thailand, Japan, and Vietnam. So not only did I get to learn about the Spanish culture I also had the opportunity to learn about these other cultures from all over the world and if you know me I have a serious case of wanderlust and now a bigger bucket list of countries I want to visit.