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My Love of Spain

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In 1981, the summer between my junior and senior year at UCLA, I studied in Madrid for six weeks. I had declared my Spanish major the previous September because I could graduate in four years with AP units and because I loved the language. I saw a flyer for the summer program with Bryn Mawr’s Centro de Estudios Hisp├ínicos. I got accepted to the program with a scholarship. I packed my bags and backpack and began my first trip to Europe. Not many of my friends studied abroad, and no one in my family had traveled to Europe. Just a few years ago my mom told me she cried all the way back from the airport.
I had never been to a nation’s capitol, even our own. Madrid’s monuments, fountains, post office that looked like a palace, wide boulevards, narrow alleys and the expansive Retiro Park inspired me. I was taken by Spain’s romantic history of kings and queens, art, culture, buildings, the independence of food, I experienced the independence of travel and the journey with other students in d…