My Time in Spain Seems like Another Life

Mark Majcher
Senior: English: Secondary Education and Spanish: Secondary Education
Universidad de Burgos, Fall 2017
Spanish Culture, Spanish Language

It is difficult to justifiably capture my study abroad experience in words. It was such a collection of sights, tastes, feelings, experiences, etc. that I can’t really coalesce my thoughts around any particular statement.  I do know it will take me years to process these months, they are so distinct from the others of my life. I have some anecdotes however.

Church outside of Bilbao- Mark Majcher
Image: Church with mountain outside of Bilbao

I went with my girlfriend to Granada for our break from classes in late September. On our second night there, we met up with another friend from the program and decided to go to a Flamenco show. Prior to Spain I knew very little of Flamenco. Furthermore, anything I knew was incorrect. We wound our way through the narrow streets up a mountain, and eventually found the venue, a nondescript cave-house.  The venue was colored in various shades of light, and tables filled the narrow, rocky room. The performances were impassioned, though it was difficult for me to understand the lyrics. The dancers moved to the melody with improvisations throughout. The guitarist and drummer moved to the dancers. It was half-folk melodies and half improvisational. The vocals were a mournful and strained wail. My favorite line that I overheard was “Yo te quiero verde” (I want you green) which was adapted from a Frederico Garcia Lorca poem. He was native to that region, so it makes sense that a poet of such renown would translate into its music. After the show had ended, we climbed up the mountain for a view of the city. I thought—how must this view have looked before all these lights in the city covered up the ones in the sky? It was strange to imagine how old the city was. It’ll be here a long time after I won’t.

Along the River Arlanzón-Mark Majcher, Burgos 174.jpg
Image: Alongside the river Arlanzón in Burgos

Those days in Granada were some of the most memorable I had. The accent in Andalucía was difficult for me to understand, the roads and alleys were as tangled as curly hair on a humid day. I learned later that the illogical city design was to confuse invaders, and in the modern age tourists as well. I was definitely very confused at times—it’s good that I had data.

I didn’t end up going inside of the Alhambra—the big cheese, but I imagine I’ll go again someday.

Spain has an odd pull for me now, it is this collection of memories like a cd I keep replaying. I remember all my classes at the University of Burgos in an almost ghostly way. The university is a collection of modern and ancient structures. My favorite part was a little chapel in the center I visited once. Catholicism is certainly much more prominent in Spain. The cathedrals rise like smoke. I always found the Cathedral de Santamaria to be eerie and otherworldly-especially at night. I can look back at all this with distance now, both physical and mental. Emotionally though there is a piece of Spain, and particularly Burgos and the cities I visited. They are not names on a map anymore, as they were. Now they’re vibrant and beautiful, and I can go back and live in them anytime.

Cathedral de Santamaria silhouette-Mark Majcher, Burgos 174
Image: Silhouette of Cathedral de Santamaria at sunset

At this point my time in Spain seems like another life, it was so distinct. I definitely will miss going out for churros and patatas bravas. Or going to the mercado for gazpacho. It’ll inform my life going forward though, and I do want to go back when I can. Studying in Spain was life-altering in many ways. I’d never spent so much time away from home, and I think through that experience I grew into myself a little more, and gained a wider lens to look at the world.

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