Saturday, July 28, 2012

Philosophy With TJ

Earlier this Summer, our Philosophy class had a surprise trip to Cordoba! I was playing a game of cards with my roommates and halfway through our host mom, Lola, comes in and gives me the phone. A guy from the TTU Center was telling me to get over to the Santa Justa Train Station as soon as possible, because our class' bus to Cordoba was supposed to leave over an hour ago! Lunch was just coming out and the pasta was the quickest meal I've ever had, and in under five minutes I was heading to the train station.

Upon arriving, I was given a bocadillo which tasted like a chicken fajita. Soon after we were on our way to Cordoba. One of the reasons I've enjoyed Spain so much is because surprise trips like this may happen, but everything is just able to work out very smoothly. Unplanned activities in Seville are usually equally or more fulfilling and eventful than trips we may have known about for weeks. Things just kinda work out!

The main reason we were going to Cordoba as a Philosophy class was because it was the birthplace of three of the major philosophers we had covered up to that point. Seneca, and Averroes (Ibn Rushd), and Moses Maimonides all have statues scattered throughout the city and its famous Jewish Quarter. Around the year 1000, this city exemplified European progress through the Middle Ages. We visited a restored house that was at one point a Jewish house/Synagogue, but a Christian home was built on top of it. While being restored as a Christian monument it was discovered that before it had been Christian it was a place where Jews had gathered to practice their religion possibly even during the Spanish Inquisition. It is now a museum dedicated to Maimonides and the Jews who lived and died during this time period.

One of the ways that some of the courses taught in Seville differ from those taught at the Lubbock campus is the ability to go out and see what you're learning about. In Philosophy, we were taught about three philosophers whom we were told were influential thinkers who were highly involved in the politics of their times. We read about how some writings survived the fall of the Roman Empire, and how even as societies crumbled and failed around these men, their works demonstrated very advanced perspectives on how things should be done. The only problem with learning about stuff like that in class is that we really don't have any context to see where it occurred. Many of the students here had never been to Europe before, which makes it very hard to imagine a Medieval city that is very well preserved today. The advantage of taking Humanities & Visual and Performing Arts classes in Spain is that after you read and discuss key people, places, and events, you can take a bus to go see where it actually happened, or in the case of such a historical town like Seville it might be just down the road!

Although the trip was completely unexpected, many people enjoyed Cordoba as a more relaxed city. After the museum, we hung out a cafe and then in a nearby park until it was time to leave. Overall, it showed me how much stuff there is to do in a place like Spain, even on short notice.

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