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España vs. Me: Round Two

The history and culture shock of Spain continued down its path with me as I began to more fully comprehend the  amazing accomplishments that took place in the last five thousand years or more.

La Granja Royal Palace was an interesting find on our tour throughout Spain. Just outside the small town of San Ildefonso, the summer palace and its gardens were a wonderful delight that I did not think any king would ever want. The 1,500 acres of gardens, trees, groves, and amazing flowerbeds and fountains were stunning.

A flower bed of the La Granja gardens.
A view looking down at one of the main fountains at the garden.

The most incredible thing was how the king had Red Woods shipped from the United States to Spain just so he could have them in the garden. The fountains and architectures were modeled after Versailles, and I found it interesting how the palace now belongs to the people and that they are allowed to visit inside of it. The garden continues to grow all of the original species of plants that were originally planted, and the palace itself contains all of the original furniture and architecture from its original conception as well.

The Mezquita that we had the welcomed pleasure of seeing is the ultimate symbol of how the three cultures of Spain, Jewish, Moor, and Christian, came together and completely redeveloped a new mosque-cathedral as new kings ruled over the area.

View of one of the old entrances to the Mezquita of Córdoba, Spain.

Though the mezquita is mainly a representation of the Moor and Christian cultures, I believe that the history behind it was influenced by all three cultures, even if it wasn’t at the same time. Each chapel represents a different part of the religions and I found most fascinating the pillars that were inscribed with different meanings.

A neighborhood of the “Village of Three Cultures”.

Frigiliana is a town that takes the time to celebrate the Festival de las Tres Culturas (Festival of Three Cultures) at the end of August. This festival commemorates the coexistence between the Christian, Muslim and Jewish traditions, as well as the regions historic confluence.

One of the most pure colored houses of the “White Village”.

This special town, also known as the “White Village” inspired me to find the time during this study abroad trip and visit it again. Though I did not like all of the stairs that we had to climb, this white village full of artists and flowers was the push I needed to continue my journey through the Spanish culture and the Spanish Language.


Grace Englehart is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Creative Writing and Spanish. Grace is spending the summer term abroad with the faculty-led UMKC Spanish Program in Granada, Spain.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

España vs. Me: Round One

España has displaced my mind from my life and has put it inside of my history books and National Geographic Magazine issues that I praised as a child.

Throughout my first week in Spain, I was shown that no matter how ‘small’ she may be compared to the states or other European countries, the people and history of the Iberia Peninsula have stolen the empty spaces of my mind and have replaced them with all of her glories and wonders. Madrid became the city of maze-like buildings that trapped me, only to show me the history inside of each maze turn. Interestingly, the street names in Spain are placed on the sides of buildings, so I found myself looking up a lot and missing the sights of the streets below.

A memorial text for Cervantes, reading: To Don Miguel de Cervantes, on the fourth century of the publication of the first part of Don Quijote.
One of my favorite streets to get lost on: Calle de Cervantes

The first night I spent in Madrid left me puzzled and restless because I knew that I could not possibly learn a culture by its language or history alone.

As the night went on, my mind began to rest and the morning of our trip to Segovia awakened the adventure I did not think I could have on a study abroad trip.

One of my life-altering fears shattered: Heights

It is amazing to have encountered one of the most magnificent structures from the Roman times that is still standing and still being used today. I have spent years in history classes, reading and studying the use the Roman Aqueducts, but I have never imagined how intense their presence may be until I saw them for myself.

My first impression of the Aqueduct of Segovia: How is history alive in front of me?

Since they were built without any mortar, the thirty-six semi-circular arches blew me away. Ironically, I was almost afraid to climb the stairs and see the view from the top of them, but thankfully the history behind the entire structure gave me the confidence to take the climb.

My history book selfie.

The Plaza de España is one of my favorite outdoor descriptions of history that I have experienced thus far on our trip (besides the Mezquita and the beautiful town of Frigiliana). The plaza is in the Parque de Maria Luisa in Seville, Spain. It was built for an exposition is 1929 and is an example of Regionalism Architecture, meaning that it mixes elements of the Renaissance and the Moorish revival styles of Spanish architecture. Essentially, it’s a Neo- Mudéjar style.

View of the Plaza from the far right.

The half-circle complex contains four bridges representing the four kingdoms of Spain. Inside the semi-circle are tiled alcoves that represent each province of Spain. Out of the forty-eight alcoves, everyone has a relevant tableau and map that gives a representation of the history of that said province. This in an amazing and beautiful piece of tiled architecture because it not only gives a historical aspect of each province and the four kingdoms, but of how the culture and people reflect on each other.


Grace Englehart is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Creative Writing and Spanish. Grace is spending the summer term abroad with the faculty-led UMKC Spanish Program in Granada, Spain.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Ir a Granada: Before the Flight Frights

This book has been my focus as my flight anxiety has become prevalent in my travels.

Spain will be my home for six weeks while I attend classes in Granada and tour the country for almost two weeks. What was once just a minuscule possibility in Spanish 221 has become an amazing experience that I will begin in just a few days. The only thing from stopping me now is my flight anxiety. 

I have traveled before: in high school, I crossed the U.S. via plane to Hawaii, where we were invited to march in a Thanksgiving Day Parade.  The first flight, about an hour or so, went well enough, but as soon as the second flight came around, my confidence began to deteriorate and the anxiety overwhelmingly took over my fight or flight responses. But on a plane, there is nowhere to go.

Since that particular flight, I have grown in excitement for the landing in Madrid and cringe at the sight of my plane ticket. My carry-on and personal bag are full of distractions: an iPod for music, my textbook for classes, an amazing journal made just for travelers going to Spain, my boyfriend’s hoodie, practice worksheets to brush up on my Español, and multiple other trinkets to keep me calm when all medicine fails.Ironically, packing has only exasperated this fear of mine, because as soon as all of my bags are packed, the sooner I will be boarding the plane that has recently haunted me into anxiety-dwelling research.

If I am so scared to travel to Spain via aircraft, why I am still continuing this journey?

The concept of studying abroad sparked joy in my mind and my heart. Studying a language that one I that would like to become fluent in is not something that will happen overnight, and probably not in six weeks, either. But it is what I want to do, even if I must travel across the globe on a plane, I have everything I might possibly need to get on that plane, and I will not let my anxiety stop me.


Grace Englehart is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Creative Writing and Spanish. Grace is spending the summer term abroad with the faculty-led UMKC Spanish Program in Granada, Spain.

 Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.