The serene and spiritual city of Santiago de Compostela in the northwest of Spain is known worldwide as the culmination of the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. It also serves as a pilgrimage of a different sort for HBU students—a pilgrimage of language, culture, and history.
The purpose of the trip is to immerse the students in the Spanish language. For HBU graduate Erica Coronado, who was a senior at the time, it “was exactly what I needed to feel comfortable and help me become more fluent.” But the learning experience was more than just getting the opportunity to use Spanish in everyday interactions with native speakers.
Dr. Encarna Bermejo, assistant professor of Spanish at HBU, led the trip. According to her, “Languages are like people, they are all different and unique. Languages are constantly changing, making them a challenge to learn. Learning a language is not just a subject you take in high school or college, it is a tool to gain knowledge about yourself, other people and cultures.”
This location was chosen because both the city and the university help support the academic, spiritual, and professional excellence in the mission statement of HBU and the ninth of the ten pillars—cultivating a global focus. Coronado said, “I could not stop thinking about how much of a rewarding experience it was. I felt immensely blessed to be given the opportunity to study abroad.”
But the learning experience was not merely academic either. The students stayed with host families and got to take in the life of the city. One of the students, Sarah Mosqueda, said, “I loved the small city vibe I got from Santiago de Compostela. Everything was within walking distance. The cathedral was also one of my favorite things about the area. I went many times just to take it all in.” During the four-week trip there was one free weekend where students could take a side trip to Madrid, Paris, or Oporto, Portugal.
Mosqueda sums up that agenda very well: “I realized that adventures are the best way to learn.”