I would not have had as great of an experience had I not met some incredible people to enjoy the experience with.Each person in my program resided from their own corner of the United States, and none of us having met each other before, fell perfectly into a functional friendship. These were the folks that motivated a spontaneous trip to Córdoba to see the Mosque – living away from home is one thing but planning trips around was a daunting task I would not have been comfortable doing alone initially. In our time together we also met numerous locals that introduced us to unique experiences and made us feel comfortable so far away from home. In this picture, we had just hiked up the hills of Falange to get a view of the city and take a photo. This day was special because we got to eat paella on the beach, explore the local shops on our own, and enjoyed a game of volleyball against some locals.
It isn’t a trip to Granada if you don’t visit the Alhambra. This was an incredible experience that brought to life the connections I was making in the classroom. I recall vividly standing in the Generalife, imagining myself hundreds of years ago enjoying the castle on a hot summer day. The view from the watchtower was phenomenal and highlighted monuments in town like La Capilla Real or the old walls that surrounded the city.
One thing that I found unites everybody is food! I had the opportunity to take a cooking class that was also a Spanish learning class. We made chicken and rabbit paella, homemade sangria, and gazpacho, which called for an incredible dinner that evening. When we would go out to eat, I particularly enjoyed croquetas, which appear like a hushpuppy but are filled with delicious Iberian ham and seasonings that reminded me of an Easter dinner. The seafood, especially calamari, was not like anything I have tasted in the U.S. before and made me appreciate the Mediterranean gastronomy. Spanish tortillas, essentially egg, onion, and potato, are a cheap belly filler and go great with salted tomatoes for lunch.
Finally, I want to mention visiting the mosque in Córdoba. The beautiful colored arcs with unique column designs predates the large Catholic church centered in the middle of the building by centuries. This drastic switch made for an incredible tour of the ancient place of worship and brought to life the tale of the requisition. As this was a hot topic in my classes, it was rewarding to visit and see for myself what we were learning.
I would recommend anyone thinking about studying abroad to apply for this scholarship and find a program because this was an experience that changed my perspectives indefinitely. I am beyond grateful for the Rudolph family’s gracious contribution to my education and for an adventure of a lifetime.