There will be two parts to this because this weekend was long and I realized many things, so bear with me for some paragraphs.
This weekend, Spanish Studies made the 4-hour journey to Granada. It was amazing to be back in Andalucía, my first Spanish home. Granada has a reputation of grand beauty, amazing sights, and absolutely freezing weather. I am pleased to report that this past weekend, Granada was beautiful. It was about 70 degrees the two days we were there, a wonderful opportunity to grab some sun as we walked around the beautiful city.
Granada is known for La Alhambra. I don’t know how many people have heard of La Alhambra, but it is one of the most incredible structures I have ever seen. The architecture is the most detailed and most beautiful handwork I have ever seen as well—you have to see it to believe it. Everything about La Alhambra is beautiful, and its place in history is even more impressive. As we were standing in the throne room, our guide told us Christopher Columbus’s journey to the new world started there—right where we were standing.
There is nothing quite like hearing one of the most important moments in human history took place two feet and several centuries from where I stood. My head got light as I realized the enormity of this history. Let me tell you, world events certainly have a way of making you feel tiny and insignificant. I don’t think I am the only one that has had an existential crisis there.
There was a moment in Granada that I want to describe to you, so maybe you can understand just how awe-inspiring the presence of La Alhambra was. We had two hours of free time after we spent three hours exploring La Alhambra. We were in Plaza Nueva when we decided to walk along the river. The river was small and shallow, with walls on both sides that reached up to the road on one side and up to La Alhambra on the other. Water weeds, grass, and vines covered the walls and crept along the cobblestones where we were walking. We decided to sit on the wall, La Alhambra to our backs, the sun shining brightly and hotly. In front of us was a small shop selling items like hookahs, prayer rugs, and colorful clothing. Above the shop, a man sat on his balcony and played guitar.
Absolutely everything about the half hour that we sat there was peaceful and perfect. When people think about Spain, I image that they have a similar picturesque moment—well, I experienced it. Right then, I realized just how extraordinary life is. Who knew something as simple as a guitar and sunlight would make my world a better place?
I love introspection and I spend more of my fair share of time living inside my own head, but introspection requires one to have experiences every day—you can’t just sit in your room and expect great revelations to arrive by themselves—you have to seek them out!
I want you to know that even though I am an American living with Spaniards, two distinct cultures, there are some things that are just shared no matter what.
· Pop culture is pop culture. Did you watch the Walking Dead this weekend? My Spanish peers did. (My host family and I watch Masterchef every Wednesday night, too).
· Vulgarity. The language may differ, but the sentiment is the same.
· All students are bored by 5-hour lectures. I swear, I have never been closer to my Spanish schoolmates than when we sat through a grueling 5-hour lecture about Art in Alicante. We all exchanged meaningful looks—in that moment, we were all the same.
· Along the same lines, we all dread the final projects that lie between us graduating.
· We also are wary of life after college--the great unknown. We may have an ocean between our two countries, but that doesn’t change the fact that our generation faces similar instability and scarcity that the economic crisis brought to us all.
Sure, there is a language barrier and cultural obstacles that you just have to figure out how to navigate through trial and error, but with effort, you can start to see that maybe we really aren’t that different. It’s not “us and them”, it’s just… us.
So, whether you are getting lost in La Alhambra or sitting through the most soul-deadening 5 hours of your life, you can be sure of one thing—we are all in this world together.