John Dewart – Granada, Spain – When I was a freshman at Wabash, the prospects of immersion learning and a semester abroad were always fixated dreams of mine. I look back at my days as a tour guide and reflect on the statistic “One in three Wabash men study abroad, and even half of a class will take part in immersion class,” and can’t hardly believe that I spent time in Ecuador, experiencing Quito, the rain forest, and the Galapagos Islands and now here I am sitting a top of my apartment’s roof in Granada, Spain listening to the songs of the birds against the clash of the cathedral bells and writing this entry. With such a rich culture, the beautiful Alhambra, towering cathedral, and vast Sierra Nevada Mountains before me, I can’t help but marvel in the splendors and wonders this semester will offer.
Granada is a wonderful city in the heart of southern Spain situated in the Andalusia. What makes it incredibly interesting is that Islamic and Christian influence is present around every corner. Ancient mosques, churches, and stone arches adorn the streets making every turn around a corner a new experience in Islamic and Christian architecture.
To date, I have had my fair share of Spanish exposure from walks around the city with my program, to two weekend trips including one to Alpujarra in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the other to Ronda and Seville. My program orientation exposed me to the richness of the city from great explanations of the mountains down to the simple cobble stone streets. Nonetheless, my first experience in Alpujarra was incredible. My program took me to the Sierra Nevada Mountains for a three-hour excursion tracing old water and irrigation paths. Last weekend, my program took me to Ronda where I visited bathhouses dating back to the 13th century, which are no longer in use as well as the oldest bullfighting ring in Spain, which is still used today.
In Seville, I explored a royal palace amassed with hanging gardens and beautiful fountains, watched a Flamenco demonstration, and visited the second largest cathedral in the world.
Living in Spain has given me the key to unlocking the complexities of the world and a greater understanding about myself. It is a constant challenge here living in an unfamiliar country, adjusting to the ceceo in the Spanish language, and being considered the ‘American’ to some. It is a constant grapple not having even basic necessities like a dryer, access to most stores during siesta (12 to 6 pm depending on the store), and standard meal hours in the United States. However, I am happy to say I enjoy adapting to my surroundings and taking these challenges head on with the strong academic helmet a Wabash College education has given me.
I hope this gives the Wabash audience a taste of what my few weeks abroad have been like. And to any prospective and current Wabash men, take advantage of every opportunity to experience the differences in other cultures.