TSU Salamanca 2018July 9, 2018
Since mid-May a cohort of twenty Truman students, and professors Dr. Stacy Bryant and Dr. Andrea Nate have been enjoying a full immersion experience in Spain. The students hit the ground running upon their arrival in Madrid, where, shortly after landing, we took them to the Museo de Jamón (Ham Museum) to enjoy Spain´s most ubiquitous tapa: jamón ibérico, a cured ham similar to Italian prosciutto. After visits to Madrid´s central sites (Plaza de España, Templo Debod, Palacio Real, El Museo del Prado, and el Museo de la Reina Sofía), we engaged students in a practical, hands-on activity: ordering Madrid´s legendary bocadillos de calamares (calamari sandwiches) at the mythical cafetería El Brillante, a traditional, neighborhood bar/restaurant popular among Madrid taxi drivers. After two days in Madrid we embarked on our marathon tour of southern Spain. The first stop was Granada, home of the spectacular Alhambra, a medieval Moorish palace and fort, which is nothing short of a wonder of the world. In addition to their visit the Nasrid Palaces, students were able to wander the narrow, tiny streets of the Alcaicería (the old Moorish bazar). After a daunting, steep trek through the Puerta de Elvira up to the Albaicín (Granada´s historic neighborhood), the students´ faces communicated all that was needed to be said: no words were needed to describe the view of the Alhambra lit up at night. After an evening of flamenco in the gypsy caves and learning how to order tapas in Granada, we took off the next day for Córdoba, home of the Great Mosque of Córdoba, whose construction began in the eighth century. Our visit coincided with the Feria de Córdoba, so we shared the streets of the judería (old Jewish quarters) with locals dressed in colorful trajes de gitano, apparel similar to the clothing worn at the Feria de Sevilla. The adventure continued in Seville, where students learned the importance of this city´s connections to the New World, and in Mérida, where we had the opportunity to sit in the amphitheater were Roman gladiators once fought to the death for the sake of entertaining a blood thirsty crowd. Finally, after a week of exquisite Hispano-Muslim mosques and fortresses, busy Baroque and Gothic cathedrals, simple yet beautiful synagogues, and lots of tapas, we arrived in Salamanca: home for the summer, with the exception of day trips to hike in the Sierra de Francia and visit the Castilian castles and cathedrals of Segovia, Ávila, León, and the chocolate museum of Astorga. Students will return to the States knowing how to dance sevillanas, make tortilla española, and, most importantly, communicate effectively and empathetically with people of another culture.