Learning and Living among History: A Reflection on my first two weeks in Trujillo, Spain by Will Spencer

It’s been two weeks since arrived in Trujillo, my Spanish home for the semester, and it feels like it was both yesterday and three months ago at the same time. I’ve learned and experienced so much but I’m still only beginning my study abroad experience. I came to Trujillo with plenty of goals but few expectations or ideas about what life was going to be like in a medium-sized Spanish town for an entire semester. I knew I wanted to be immersed in Spanish language and culture, learn lots and do well in my classes, and make plenty of friends and memories. However, I don’t recall ever wondering about how the storks would sound at night, what food came free with a drink vs. what I would have to order, or how much sugar was too much to put into the tiny Spanish coffee cups we would drink in between classes. My first two weeks have been filled with surprises, challenges, and incredible experiences.

As a history major, I’ve loved learning about and experiencing the history and culture of Spain in and out of the classroom. I was already familiar to some degree with much of Spain’s history, but it was still fascinating to re-learn such an interesting history in a different language and then see the very places, things, and buildings I was learning about. It’s one thing to learn about the Reconquista from a PowerPoint in a history class in Maybank, but it’s something else entirely to then walk outside and immediately see a castle built by the Moors a thousand years ago. Our faculty-lead trip to Mérida afforded me ample opportunities to learn about history and imagine the stories playing out in the very ruins where it all played out millennia before. It was a wonderful experience to be able to see firsthand an ancient gladiatorial amphitheater, gaze upon the faces of past Roman Emperors on still-shining coins, and walk the same streets and bridges people have been walking on for so many centuries. I live amongst history and the city is my classroom, primary source, textbook, and home rolled into one. It’s a dream come true. There’s still so much more to learn and so many more adventures to have!

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