“Communicating Culture” – Elizabeth LeBlanc, Honors Spanish Major, Salamanca, Spain

Elizabeth LeBlanc and Elizabeth Houbeck, Salamanca CastleI went to Spain in the hopes of examining the influence of Spain on the Latin American countries. Using Carlos Fuentes’ illustration of “The Buried Mirror”, I planned to examine the roots of the cultures of the Latin American people I had come to know through my work in Rhode Island. Not only was I able to observe the influence of Spain on Latin America, but I was also able to see the influence of Spain on the culture of the United States.

It was Spain’s far reaching influences into my own culture that surprised and fascinated me. My fascination was fed by the excellent and comprehensive courses that I took over my six-week stay in Spain. I attended courses at the University of Salamanca five days a week for four hours a day.

In addition to daily classes, I also participated in daily cultural activities throughout the city of Salamanca. These included touring the Salamantine art museums, cathedrals and runes; viewing plays about the history of Salamanca; attending jazz and classical concerts throughout the city; and visiting various market places around the city. But the truest taste of the culture came from walking. I walked everywhere around the city until my feet were covered with blisters and my city maps were falling apart with frequent use. It was while walking that I was able to slow down my stay in Spain and take in every sight, taste and smell. It was also while walking that I was able to practice my Spanish more, speaking with local merchants, asking for directions and inquiring as to the importance of local statues, cathedrals and museums.Elizabeth LeBlanc and Elizabeth Houbeck, Spain

My studies, the cultural activities, and travel all added richly to my experience and served as endless material for the blog that I was working on. The blog was part of my final project for Honors, but also served as a way to really digest and understand the Spanish culture. “Communicating Culture,” the travel blog, examined the culture and history of Spain especially as it applied to Spain’s influences on other cultures.

In Segovia, there is a castle called the Alcazar that served as the inspiration for Disney’s castles in Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. The story of the Alcazar made me realize the influence that Spain had on the culture of the United States and spurred a blog post about it. Living down the street from the site where Columbus asked for permission to go the New World allowed me to again touch on the significance of Columbus’ discovery on American culture and identity.