Christina C.

I really enjoyed the last sections of Pagan Spain because Wright touches on several aspects of Spanish life that I found to be very interesting. Not only does Wright mention certain characteristics about Spanish culture, but he searches for the reasoning behind them. For example, Wright mentions how Spanish children are brought up being spoiled and admired by their family. Wright notices that every child is called “guapo”, is hugged, kissed, worshiped and made the feel like the most special person on earth. I have noticed this particularly in one of my younger cousins – his parents (my aunt and uncle) worship him and he can pretty much get away with anything!
I also thought the chapter on Spanish women was appropriate. Wright points out that Spanish women are basically the backbone to Spanish society. His commentary on Spanish women reveals the irony of their role in society. The Spanish woman is strong, resolute, loving and essential to Spain. However, at the same time, they are all held by the traditional hands of men and the Church.
The last few chapters of the book are also really interesting because they retell the brief encounters Wright had with Spanish people of different professions an perspectives on Spain. I liked these chapters because they provided some insight to a question I have often found myself asking – What is it that makes Spaniards different? Wright meets with a journalist, Senior G., who has a similar opinion as Wright about how Spaniards’ problems begin at birth, and are inevitable; that Spaniards are taught nothing and learn nothing, but are still allowed to grow. I think its interesting to hear a Spaniard speak this way of his own country.

While brainstorming about our itinerary project, I seem to be most drawn to a gastronomical focus. After spending a great deal of time in Spain, I have noticed how culturally important the food is. Not only is gastronomy an important element of the Spanish culture in general, it is unique in each different region of Spain. That is to say that the food you find in Andalucia is very different from that which you would find in Galicia. Furthermore, there are several dishes that are specific to small cities within a particular province that are famous throughout the country. Another reason why I find it interesting to do a itinerary project based around food is because the process of cooking and dining in Spain are such a huge part of the social life. Families and friends gather together for meals that are elaborate and often last hours. I think that by making a trip to Spain and exploring the vastness of its gastronomy, one will see a very important characteristic of Spain. In terms of my itinerary, I would like to include about 5 different regions or cities. At the moment, I definitely would like to include Andalucia, Galicia, the Basque country and Valencia.

Looking back on my time spent abroad, I think the moments I felt most integrated happened with my host family. For me, a huge part of fitting and feeling integrated was making that special connection with my family. There is one night in particular that sticks out in my head. It was the second semester in Malaga and we were having a small dinner for my host mom, Maria Eva’s, birthday. It was to be Maria Eva, her two daughters (Mae and Marta), Mae’s best friend and boyfriend, and Maria Eva’s boyfriend, sister and niece. Before everyone came over I was in the main house helping Maria Eva prepare the food and set the table. I guess it’s important to mention that I lived in what we would refer to as the pool house. It was a guest house with a bedroom and bathroom that was separate from the main house. Therefore, although I spent a lot of time in the main house, I was still somewhat secluded.
Anyway, we were to eat the usual things we ate when we had people over for dinner: olives, bread, cheese, ham, chorizo, pate, nuts, and of course, tortilla. The first time I had one of these dinners with my host family I was incredibly awkward. Because we were all suppose to picar, I ate only the food that was within hands reach for fear of reaching over the table or having to ask someone to pass me the tortilla. My host mom could sense my discomfort and would often pass me whatever was across the table without my asking. This night, however, was different. I had such a strong sense of belonging that evening that when the guests arrived, I felt as though they were coming to see my host family and to see me as well. I was connected not only to the family but to the house itself. Throughout the dinner I made trips back and forth to the kitchen to get more napkins, or more bread, as if it were my own. My host mom asked me to do I wasn’t afraid to reach for the soda across the table, or say to Marta, “pasame el pan por favor”.
At this point in my stay in Malaga I had met everyone at the dinner several times and slowly became more open to them. I noticed that on Maria Eva’s birthday, however, I was the most talkative I had ever been around all of them together. I was engaged in the conversations they were having and never became bored at all. Although this may not seem like such a huge deal it really meant a lot to me. It was as though that night I went from being the foreign student living in the house to becoming a part of the family. From that night on I felt a different connection between me and my family.

Next Page »