Spending 4 weeks in Alcalá de Henares, Spain was the first time that I have had to rely entirely on my Spanish skills. I was used to using only Spanish in my classes at IU, but being completely immersed was entirely different. I spent my days attending classes on Spanish culture and Spanish literature, and after a short siesta, I explored my new home. By just wandering the streets and talking to the locals, it was obvious to see that the whole country operated at a different pace. Spanish life is much more relaxed and carefree than it is in America. Everyone has time to leisurely walk around the plaza and enjoy the sunshine. Everything runs on a slower schedule. Dinner typically never started before 8 PM and was time devote to spending a few hours with friends recounting the day. Luckily, the food was always amazing and worth the wait. Spain truly is a country of 3 cultures: Christian, Jewish, and Muslim, and it is reflected in everything from architecture to cuisine. It was fun to see how the cultures had blended together and formed a beautiful culture that was entirely Spanish.
Seeing all of the history in Spain was by far my favorite part. A quick tour of the Royal Palace in nearby Madrid was extremely eye-opening. By being in such a historic place in the heart of Spain, it was easy to see the country’s priorities from long ago: religion, arts, and colonization. Spending time in Spain allowed me to better understand just how much Spanish influence has spread around the world. I had always enjoyed learning about Spain in my classes at IU, but being able to walk where history had happened truly allowed me to understand its importance.