Studying Abroad in Spain with Professor John William Bailly
Spain is a place like no other. Everybody has heard about the Conquistadors, Christopher Columbus, the rise and downfall of a great naval power, and other historical points, yet those types of points are just a piece of the whole paella that is Spain. Walking around the streets, you can see and hear many things, but the things that grabbed me the most was the culture and how people spend their time here. From flamenco, music, theaters, and even siesta; Spaniards don’t operate like how I am familiar with. I have always seen the “live to work” style of life in the US as that is how I even model my life as I constantly have to be doing something. When I observe the residents of Spain it seems to be the opposite as they focus more on their leisure and happiness. That is what I plan to discuss as I explore how the Spaniards use there “tiempo libre” and how it reflects upon the American culture I am familiar with.
<<Cine en Madrid>> by Carlos Rojas of FIU in Madrid on June 7, 2019
Movies have always been a staple in my life. Watching them teaches me about stories from all walks of life. Thus, I immediately gravitated toward Cine Ideal when I was taking a leisurely stroll in Madrid. Noticing the placement of the theater, as it was kind of a whole in the wall location. Opened in 1916, this structure has open for over 100 years harboring the likes of many stories from plays to films. Even now being privately owned, it still has maintained its looks throughout the years. The stained glass was probably the most eye-popping part for me with the clairvoyant women in the middle looking into a crystal ball. When watching films, people tend to forget the stories that the venues tell themselves. Usually a film will be reserved for a family outing, a date, or a hang out with friends, but many people come and spend a couple hours of their lives taking part in a story. It’s crazy to think but the stories shown on the big screen might not be the most important ones with a venue with such an old age. Noticing these little small things in something so simple in everyday life, like a movie theater, are things were should enjoy as a society. A small movie theater in Lavapiés might not be the premier thing to do in a city with all the night life and museums of this city rich history, but I’m glad to see that these small places still continue to share stories with every generation that passes through Calle de Doctor Cortezo 6.
Toledo As Text
<<The Lock of Toledo>> by Carlos Rojas of FIU in Toledo on June 12, 2019
Love, commitment, a bond between individuals.
That what these locks mean to those who seal their fate by placing these locks on the Puente de Alcantra. Gestures like this are practiced all around the world, even in our own backyard with FIU and the kissing bridge. When you seal a commitment, everything from their worlds come together. I believe Toledo encompasses that aspect with its unique culture as we see it reflected all throughout the city. Once the capital of Spain, this city has seen work from those of the Arab, Jewish, Christian community come to flourish and be apart of one community.
Like the lock, certain parts are essential sealing this relationship. Landmarks of the city reflect this mixing of cultures like the synagogue of Santa María la Blanca, a place where Jewish people would come to worship in a place made by Islamic architects and it is now owned by the Catholic Church. This was just a prime example of something that was apparent all around the city. Also, like the relationships that lock themselves on the bridge, there must be communication for them to succeed. In this city, it felt like everyone knew each other as our tour guide would stop and greet people. That sense of community also spoke to me. And at the end of the day, when locking your commitment to each other, you must know to appreciate each other. There is no better way to appreciate your significant other than having a painting of your city’s landscape painted by El Greco.
Overall, when you lock yourself, you are making a great commitment to yourself and the other party. While not all parties end up together for the long haul (hopefully Jose Angel and Silvia did), I’m glad Toledo and its culture is still growing strong.
Sevilla as Text
<<Torre de Oro>> by Carlos Rojas of FIU in Sevilla on June 16, 2019
For some, the Statue of Liberty represents a new world. For others, it’s the Freedom Tower. For the residents in Sevilla and much of Spain, this was the start of discovering a new world. I walked around this structure easily 3 times before I was told about its history. A structure that never really struck me as a predominant figure in history turned out be such a huge figure for those who passed by during that time. So many materials, people, and ideas passed through the Guadalquivir River and stopped through this tower. Acting as a gateway between the Americas and Spain, it played a pivotal role in the foundation of our countries. When thinking about the history of this tower, the conflicting argument of how people view the conquistadors starts getting into my head. On one side we have those who hate conquistadors has they committed genocide and enslaved natives as they took their land in the name of the church. On the other, we have those that glorify the church and the conquests without any reprocessing that affected them directly. The reason I give this perspective is because this tower, which has facilitated so much movement of goods around the world at its peak time, is now just a simple landmark which harbors these thoughts to those who view them. To others, it could be looked over as just another tower. Yet to those in Sevilla, it will always the start of discovering a new world, el Torre de Oro.
Granada as Text
<<Reflection of Nazaríes>> by Carlos Rojas of FIU in Granada on June 18, 2019
“Observe my splendor and you will understand my importance”- Ibn Zamrak
As with many royal structures that I have seen in Spain, waiting rooms were always a staple when leading up to the throne room. It would build anticipation to any who would take the task of talking to a royal. Many rooms would show conquests, gold, and paintings but this place focused on other things. The gardens, the tile work, the views of the city, and so many other factors were apparent in this area. Yet it was the reflection that got me, the still water that showed the structure back at me was the most intimidating. This heavenly-like reflection gave me this chill that I haven’t felt before and it was amazing.
It got me thinking about how this place was once abandoned and how it took an American writer, Washington Irving, to bring back this structure to the protection it deserves. I appreciated how this palace was a place preserved even under Spanish rule as it is a site to behold. I also appreciated the religious aspect of the refection as this water is supposed to be a reflection of Heaven and it had the structure in that reflection. This made it all worth wild. Religion is such an important topic and I loved the way this structure was constructed. There were many small details that made it show their devotion. From the use of water, reflections, and the garden, this was definitely a nice blend of religion and architectural beauty.
Barcelona As Text
<<4 Strips of Independence>> by Carlos Rojas of FIU in Barcelona on June 21, 2019
4 strips of blood going down that yellow canvas. The symbol of a land, eager to be its own.
Seeing this flag for the first time hanging near a random apartment really didn’t have any effect on me. Even learning about it in class and understanding the meaning of the flag felt just like a normal lesson for me. Yet as I walk around the streets of Barcelona, I understand that this flag is much more than a piece of cloth.
It represents a group of people trying to be something more. These people who provide so much for themselves through their tourism and other profitable industries are trying to just gain independence. The biggest thing that struck me the most was their sense of nationalism. In every monument, apartment building, and with every yellow ribbon, this sense of nationalism with their bloody stripes is something that I find really moving especially at a time where they are not fully considered independent.
It reminded of another place that is dear to my heart, the United State of America. At one time, it too was a place fighting for independence and thriving as a new land. This connection between these two lands really made me appreciate the struggle that Catalonia faces even more. I believe that one day this land will one day be fully independent and get to experience the honor of a free and proud nation. So, I say to that random person with their flag hanging out by the balcony, ¡independència de Catalunya!
Sitges As Text
<<Sitges to Miami- Ideas >> by Carlos Rojas of FIU in Sitges on June 27, 2019
In September of 1909, a lunch in Cau Ferrat changed the course of Miami and Sitges forever. Charles Deering, Ramon Casas, Miquel Utrillo, and Santiago Rusiñol in one room sharing ideas and thoughts about artwork and their philosophies. A table seems like such a simple item to base my thoughts on, but this has always been a place to me in where ideas are formed. Whether it’s a napkin sketch of an idea or the latest argument on a favorite topic, a table has always reflected to me to be a place of harboring conversation and ideas.
These ideas brought inspirations that would change both Sites and Miami forever. After Charles Deering was unsuccessful in buying the Cau Ferrat from Santiago Rusiñol, he decided to still purchase an area near there and make it his own. Using techniques that he had seen in the Cau Ferrat such as the ancient columns, tile work, and an admiration for the ocean by allowing the views; he had built his own place. This location that admired art and the location around it was based off its neighbor, Cau Ferrat, yet it wasn’t the only time that Cau Ferrat inspired a location of Charles Deering. That leads us to the Deering Estate, in which Charles also influenced this of the Cau Ferrat. Again here, we see his love for art, the column work, and the use of its location of water. The biggest thing to me though was the use of the same symbol both in Maricel and Deering Estate. The symbol of the sun with the 3 strips of water is shown in both locations. All these connections really show us that we are not far from one another. The craziest thing about this all was that this started during a lunch in September 1909, possibly in a table just like this, just exchanging ideas.
España as Text: Montserrat
After going to look at the Black Virgin in Montserrat, we were told that we were going to partake in a 4 hour long hike up to the peak St Jeroni. I had never been hiking in Miami and I believe this was our 3rd hike at this point of the class. I had never really had thought much of them other than the amazing views, but then we were told to look at it in a different perspective. We were told that many would take this hike as a religious pilgrimage and if anything, to take this hike as a time of contemplation.
Contemplation? I’m usually the type of person that goes from Point A to Point B, not really much thought. Yet I took this approach and found it quite rewarding. Going through the hike, it felt like we were going through different areas as one moment you are in a rocky, hot area and then you take a turn toward a forest type of area with large trees. Focusing on the landscape, it got me lost in my thoughts. Going up and just enjoying the whole process. Before I knew it, I was in the final steps toward the peak of St Jeroni. Going up, I felt extremely accomplished and couldn’t wait to get to the top. At the peak, I just stood around and just got lost in the views. Sure, the views of the hike are one of the main reasons you go up and I enjoyed that. This hike was different as I took that approach of contemplation and just enjoyed the whole journey. I sat down and continued to admire the view. I sat there for literally an hour, just contemplating and taking it all in. Then, I heard those dreaded words, “Alright time to come down.” That was a different experience, but I am glad I got to see this path in a different light.