Study Abroad: Spain

Spain is a wonderful study abroad location whether you’re studying languages, architecture, history, or, in the case of this CL intern’s trip, religion. Here, CL Senior Writing Intern Debra takes you on a tour of Spain, via her experiences, with beautiful locations, places to visit, weather tips, and cuisine to taste.

Hello CL readers! I visited Spain my sophomore year with Duquesne University’s Global and Cultural Perspectives class. Our assignment was to learn about the rich history of Spanish religion, which includes Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

We covered a lot of ground in just ten days, visiting Madrid, Córdoba, Granada and Málaga. These last three places, located in Andalucía (Southern Spain), were where we spent the bulk of our time.

For those of you who have studied Don Quijote in your literature classes, you can visit La Mancha, home of the brave (or crazed) knight himself.

 

We stopped at this beautiful plaza on our road trip from Madrid to Córdoba. The statue is Don Quijote de la Mancha.

Once settled into Córdoba, we visited the Cathedral Mosque, a structure that definitely shows the diversity of religion in Spain. The cathedral was built inside the mosque!

 

Photo by Debra Schreiber

The architecture and decorations have both Islamic and Catholic influences.

Within the next few days, we drove to Granada, home to the seat of the old Moorish kings and queens:  La Alhambra, a gorgeous palace, along with the beautiful  Generalife gardens.

Photo by Debra Schreiber

The Moors loved to incorporate light, beauty and water, and this palace had them all!

My favorite place was Málaga. It is right next to the Mediterranean Sea, and is home to an incredibly diverse population of very friendly people! More often than not, they were tourists, just like us.

Photo by Debra Schreiber

Photo by Debra Schreiber

 

Photo by Debra Schreiber

It was also home to some unbelievable views!

 Unfortunately, I missed a lot of this part of the trip because I was stuck in banks all day. Traveler’s checks may seem like a good idea, but two out of the three banks I went to had trouble converting mine. Best to stick to Euros. Also, if you plan to do any banking abroad, have your passport with you when you go to the banks. As my friend from Honduras told me, and I learned firsthand, the States is the only place where a driver’s license is an acceptable form of I.D.

Luckily, I got out in time to join our group in visiting the Pablo Picasso museum. Picasso is a central figure to Spanish history and culture, and his art, timeless.

Photo by Debra Schreiber

Now he even has his own bench!

From the pictures above, you may have been assuming the weather in Spain is absolutely gorgeous all of the time. WARNING: it isn’t. We went during the crossover of February to March. It is winter in Spain then, and trust me; the rain in Spain most definitely does not fall mainly on the plain!

Photo by Debra Schreiber

 And if you plan to visit ruins like the Medina Azahara on a rainy day, don’t forget to pack your rain boots and your umbrella!

A rain coat is also wise. The best thing you can do when packing to visit a foreign country is to pack layers. The weather can surprise you at any time, so be prepared!

CL Quick Tip: Check out our study abroad packing tips!

Something else that may surprise you is the food – I wasn’t prepared, but we had a tour guide to take us to some fabulous restaurants!

 
Tapas are like appetizers, and boy, are they yummy! The hot chocolate (my favorite – after gelato!)  is much thicker in Spain than it is in the States. Great for dunking pastries in!

We spent our last day in Spain in the capital city of Madrid. This city is bursting with culture and history!

Photo by Debra Schreiber

 It is also home to some of the best pickpockets. One student in our group had his phone stolen from his zipped-up jacket pocket. If anything like a phone or credit card is stolen, find a way to cancel your service IMMEDIATELY.

Other amazing places to  visit while you’re there are the Prado museum, the bullfighting rings, and the football (soccer) stadiums.

Photo by Debra Schreiber

I didn’t get to visit those places, so comment below and let us know about your experiences there!

 Debra Schreiber is a senior Spanish and journalism major at Duquesne University. She is a Senior CL Writing Intern. Her experience in Spain was unforgettable, and she hopes to go back and visit all of the places she missed!