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Spain’s Melting Pot

Spain’s Melting Pot

Coming from Chicago, I am very used to having many different types of people live in one place at the same time without any problems.  For my whole life, I have been surrounded by diversity: in religion, in race, in everything.  But coming to Spain has greatly expanded my definition of diversity and coexistence.  I came to Spain only knowing one or two other people from Loyola.  My hopes were that I would leave my comfort zone and make lots of new friends.

When I came to Spain, I knew no one who lived with me or close to me.  But the house I am living in has 17 girls and the first day, I met a wonderful girl from the Netherlands.  I slowly met everyone and made friends from so many different countries at both my house and at school.  In the university, every one of my classes has students from at least three different countries.  I have learned so much about so many different cultures and about myself as well.  Most importantly, I know that I know almost nothing about the world; even if I were to travel my whole life meeting new people and learning about different cultures, I would never be able to know everything.

The melting pot that I found in Spain is unlike anything I have ever seen.  In Spain, especially in Andalucía, there are three major groups of people who have peacefully lived together for thousands of years: Christians, Jews, and Muslims.  Within the first few days in Sevilla, I experienced the unique atmosphere that has been created with this mix of different life styles.  The architecture, the food, and even the language has traces of all three of these groups.  This is quite different than Chicago, where there are many different cultures; but they have stayed separate, each keeping to their own people and culture.  

I went to Córdoba yesterday, and this is another city who truly shows this unique coexistence that is present in Sevilla.  Walking through the city is such a wonderful experience, seeing the influences of each culture at each corner.  In the Christian part, there was a monument of two hands that were almost touching, and our tour guide from Erasmus told us a beautiful story of a forbidden love between a Spanish princess and a Muslim prince.  Once outside the walls of the city, we saw the Roman aqueducts and the Arabic gardens.  There was a statue of a Roman poet overlooking crystal-clear fountains from the Moors which led to the entrance to the Jewish section of the city.  This amazing sight with the three cultures seeping into each other really stuck with me.  It is so wonderful to see the possibility of people coming from such different backgrounds living harmoniously. 

The most breathtaking part of Córdoba was the Mosque-Cathedral, or the Mezquita.  The name itself shows this fusion of cultures.  In high school, I had learned of the rotating use of this building, how one century it was a cathedral and a mosque the next depending on who was ruling at the time.  The pictures do not start to do justice to the extraordinary architecture of this building that has resulted from each religion calling this their place of worship throughout the centuries.  The massive cathedral that is situated in the middle of the building is surrounded by the Moorish arches and columns.  I left in complete awe of the beauty and shear size of this impressive place.  

Looking back on the past month and a half that I have been in Spain, I have been exposed to so many different cultures and types of people.  I have learned to never assume anything, to be open to change, and to always be curious.  This curiosity has lead me to new friendships, beautiful reading spots in the city, and unforgettable cites.

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