Senior reflects on study abroad experience in Spain
It is absurd to expect that every day of your life is going to be filled with beautiful revelations and drastic life-changing encounters. This doesn’t change when spending extended periods of time abroad.
Although every international student hopes for this, the reality is that some days just aren’t as spectacular as others, even when you are living in Sevilla, Spain. Bad days catch up to you no matter where you are, whether you are feeling desperate for some greasy American burgers or exhausted from studying all day for an exam. The difficult thing about any ordinary bad day is learning how to straighten the crick in your shoulders and raise your chin to the sky.
In my short month abroad I have found that there is no activity more effective in enabling this than gazing up and around the magnificent Plaza de España.
In 2002, my eyes widened in amazement at the Plaza de España as I sat next to my big brother watching “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.” This was the infamous scene where Anakin Skywalker and Padmé walked along the state building in Naboo discussing their passion for each other. Undoubtedly this is my favorite scene from all of the Star Wars movies because it added the element of romance to the intergalactic battlefield that had laid the framework for the epic saga.
Upon actually visiting the plaza I discovered that the magnitude of my connection with this monument was so much greater than the recollection of a beloved childhood memory.
There is a sense of welcome and importance that emanates from the beautifully tiled walls covering the semi-circle structure of the Plaza. The automatic emotional response that is reflected on the faces of many of the plaza’s visitors is no coincidence.
In 1914, construction of the plaza was ordered for the purpose of the Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929 to represent the open arms that Spain was extending to its trade relations of the Americas.
Anibal Gonzalez is the 20th century architect that holds claim to the creation of this breathtaking structure. His memory is alive and vigorously flowing in the fountain dedicated to him that is situated in the plaza’s center.
Along the outer lower wall there are tiled panels each illustrating one of Spain’s regions with images that represent their specialty and contribution to trade. No written description can offer an accurate description of the glorious hand-painted tiles, the powerfully situated towers, or the intricate columns connected by romantic arches. Writing about the Plaza de España is far more effective when the mood that exists there is the focus of discussion.
I often find myself lost in the silence of time or the depths of stimulating conversation as I cruise the interior pathway. I believe this monument holds the very spirit of Sevilla and its citizens in the columns and walls.
Spain is filled with many examples of breathtaking architecture from the Triana Bridge to the royal palace of Alcazar, but only the Plaza de España accurately and consistently reflects the kind and welcoming disposition that the city itself possesses.
The simultaneously relaxed and excited sensations that the plaza evokes in me have the invaluable ability to combine the once in a lifetime reality of my present being and the
components that have previously consumed my life.
When my stomach is starving for a bacon cheeseburger with jalapeños and a fried egg or when I am desperately watching videos of my precious pup I can always find comfort in the arms of the Plaza de España. This is the place in Sevilla where my worlds come together and I am brought back from my daydreams to the wonderful reality that is my study abroad experience.
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