Posted on December 1st, 2008
For the past three weeks our group has been living in the vibrant country of Spain once again after spending five weeks in Morocco. The minute I stepped onto Spanish soil only a few kilometers from the African continent I instantly felt more relaxed, and as we drove up to the small town of Montoro that same day I noticed many stark differences between the two countries. I thought since we already lived in Spain for four weeks in September that going back would be non-eventful, but I seriously felt as if I was experiencing a cross-cultural all in itself by just going back to Spain. I saw more modern technology such as windmills, organized traffic patterns, and modern cars, and I watched the lush green landscape fly by in our spacious extended bus that we never had in Morocco. Some of these observations may not seem very different to an American reader, but after living five weeks in a third-world country such as Morocco they are.
In Montoro we’ve been taking two classes with one dealing with the Muslim influence in Spain and the other about discussion between Muslims and Christians in today’s world. Along with these two classes we’ve taken field trips to Córdoba, Medinat az-Zahra, an oil museum, and most recently, Granada to reinforce and enhance what we’re learning in class. The Islamic empire’s history in Spain is rich and fascinating, and I’ve enjoyed learning about it in both the classroom and through my own eyes. Sometimes I’ve actually put myself in the story and imagined what life would have been like in that time.
Back at home our group has been living all under the same roof making meals for each other, cleaning up after each other, and just having fun. Even though we’ve spent the past three months together, living together in the same house has been a different experience with its own joys and challenges, but we’ve settled in rather nicely. In the next week, we have some final presentations and essays to complete, a workshop on Islamophobia, and a trip to Sevilla before packing and heading home on December 8.