My life’s adventure is made through faith in God and the opportunities He has given me. My name is Adam Vignau and I’m a student at Florida International University’s Honors College. I’m currently majoring in International Business with future ambitions of achieving a Masters in Finance. The lessons and experience I gain through Professor Bailly’s class will be translated as best possible through this blog.
Madrid As Text 2022
Pictures of Madrid. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0
by Adam Vignau of FIU in Madrid, Spain. 13 June 2022.
The first impressions of Madrid is the detail in every building and magnitude across the whole region. With a heat that cooks you slowly and a love from every small restaurant you enter. The “Tapas” are the snacks you get as you share a drink with friends. History is displayed in all directions in the many churches and political buildings sprinkled across the city. In addition to the impressions Madrid has shown me, I’ve noticed a strong love for knowledge through reading in particular.
During the first lecture of the week in Madrid, we passed by a row of book vendors on the street. The selection of books they had was enormous from classics like “Don Quixote” to modern non-fiction literary studies. Locals of all ages were browsing through these stalls and were bargaining to get a copy of a new book. This popular love of literature is something I have not seen in Miami personally. The closest my peers and I have come to buying a book is on an Amazon kindle.
There are bookstores in Madrid that are close to ancient and still have people keeping them in business. Whereas in Miami bookstores are few and far between. Being raised in the US I was taught very strong ethnocentric beliefs. Madrid has shown me that certain elements of “progression” have brought our society in the States further away from being critical thinkers.
Pictures of book stall. Photo taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0
With on demand learning from social media and other forms of entertainment reading books seems to become outdated. But with any solution I believe there to be many conflicts. When walking through the streets of Madrid there were very few obese people compared to the US. Similarly, without the interest of slowly gaining knowledge by reading there is significantly less comprehension long term.
If I could bring back something from Madrid to Miami it would be the love for reading.
Toledo As Text 2022
Pictures of Toledo. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0
Religion and Community
by Adam Vignau of FIU in Madrid, Spain. 15 June 2022.
Catholicism seems to be the focal point of Toledo as there are numerous churches in such a small city. While in Miami, it seems to be of the opposite extreme where secular culture is dominant. Every wall within the Cathedral of Toledo is extremely ornate and impressive in size. Over the years the cathedral has slowly been contributed by several religious leaders of the church. The church has continued to be given life.
Shown is an addition to the church where the ceiling was opened to add light. There were many critics when it was being done but modern architecture had been advanced because the architect proved them wrong.
Pictures of the Cathedral de Toledo. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0
Despite the progression of architecture and technology the Catholic culture in Toledo hasn’t changed much in the past centuries. Everyone seems to be involved with the church and its holidays throughout the year. While I was there, there was a holiday called Corpus Christi. The whole city was in preparation many days in advance as the streets were filled with people hanging decorations. This tradition of celebration has gone on for centuries and hasn’t lost popularity whatsoever.
Pictures of Corpus Christi Preparation. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0
Being a Christian in Miami, I was always involved in the church my whole life. Seeing such love for the church is not very common in Miami these days. Holidays like Christmas and Easter have lost their significance for many Christians. I believe the difference between Toledo and Miami is that the local government is largely dominated by Catholics and the celebrations done by the church aren’t fought by the locals. Instead, religion is what brings them together.
I don’t think religion should be forced upon anyone like in the inquisition but rather a beautiful way to make a community. When we were walking throughout Toledo, our tour guide recognized many people because of how tight the community is. When I walk through Miami I find it very hard to make genuine connections. I believe happiness is best shared and religion may be a great way to achieve that as seen in Toledo.
Cordoba As Text 2022
Pictures of Cordoba. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0
by Adam Vignau of FIU in Cordoba, Spain. 18 June 2022.
In aesthetics the beauty lies within the simplicity. In Cordoba the city doesn’t reveal itself from the outside. As you walk through the streets the whitewashed walls prove that the deeper meaning and even God is not formed from the ornate.
Most of the cities that we have visited throughout Spain were full of impressive feats of architecture to represent the greatness and closeness of God to the people. But in Cordoba the architecture was completely different. With the Muslim influences in the houses, no one wanted to show an outward abundance of wealth since it was against their religion. I thought this was extremely refreshing since I felt as though it made the neighborhoods more peaceful.
When we arrived at the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, the beautiful arches expanded the mosque to make it seem eternal. The Islamic influences were very simplistic until we started heading deeper into the Mosque.
Pictures of the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba Arches. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0
Standing out like a sore thumb was the Catholic Cathedral overtaking that the Mosque had to bear. In the middle stood giant sculptures of the Pope and different Catholic Saints. Personally, I felt as though it was overbearing and took away from God and focused on man. There are lots of great Catholics but seeing the influence the effects the historic Roman Catholic church had on the Muslim and Jewish people has put me off to their form of religion. It seems like religion had become politicized as shown by the architecture within the Churches.
Today, I’m glad that the government in the US can appreciate all religions and not destroy such beautiful culture. Though, the political parties seem to be very radical on both sides which has led to people of different religions and beliefs to become very segregated. Cordoba has shown that a mix of different cultures has created some of the most beautiful works of art. Through this study abroad experience I’ve had the pleasure to learn so much from my Muslim classmates that know a lot more about middle eastern culture than I. Learning from one another instead of having a superiority complex has been one of the greatest lessons from the magnificent Cordoba.
Sevilla As Text 2022
Pictures of Sevilla. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0
by Adam Vignau of FIU in Sevilla, Spain. 19 June 2022.
In Sevilla the social environment is extremely peaceful. You can walk long into the night and see others doing the same. Even the small shady alleys didn’t seem as scary as when my group was in Madrid. At the center of everything was the Cathedral of Sevilla with its beautiful gothic architecture. But when seeing such wealth and diversity as shown in the architecture it’s hard to see the same Sevilla from back in the 14-15th centuries.
Beautiful structures such as the Giralda reflect the cultural diversity in Spain as there are mixes of Moorish and Catholic architecture blended. Before the inquisition in 1492, most of the great monuments of Sevilla were founded by this mixing pot of religions and artists. Today, the success of the city seems to surround itself with the works of the past. Tourism is most likely the largest part of the economy in Sevilla.
Back in the 14th century when Spain was exploiting the resources found in the Americas, Sevilla was the main port for all goods. This led to a large influx of wealth since Sevilla was able to control and tax imports. This situation gave Sevilla a significant amount of power that it has lost over time. The channel that used to carry large ships full of cargo is now empty and used for city tours.
Picture of El Torre de Orro. Photo taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0
I don’t think there is anything wrong with Sevilla’s use of tourism to boost their economy but I would love to see a revitalization of culture and wealth through other means. I noticed a large population of the tourists in Sevilla are older. If there were possibly new attractions for younger generations maybe Sevilla can see some new life that has been gone for centuries.
Picture of Sevilla at Night. Photo taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0
Sitges As Text 2022
Pictures inside Charles Deering’s House. Photo’s taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0
by Adam Vignau of FIU in Sitges, Spain (Catalonia). 26 June 2022.
While in Sitges my class and I had the opportunity to visit Charles Deering’s old house. This experience felt as though one of the first times that we interacted with the people from Spain, and they were the ones to make the initiative towards a more intimate connection.
Throughout the compound of buildings that made up the Deering house, there were beautiful works of art from world renowned artists such as El Greco and Picasso. It seemed as though you could walk right past them and not even notice their significance. This made the experience less intense and more like I was walking through an ordinary home. At my Abuela’s house, there are pictures and art works covering the walls that seem to give the house life and comfort. This same element is what I really enjoyed about the Deering house. Even though the house was magnificent in detail, I didn’t feel as though I couldn’t live in it myself.
Picture of Picasso paintings amongst others. Photo’s taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0
To end our tour the guide brought us into a separate room so that we could share a rare collection of wine that they made there in Sitges. This was one of my favorite memories in Spain since I felt truly welcomed. I believe my classmates felt the same as we were all in a great mood and laughed the whole time.
Picture of my friends and I drinking the wine. Photo taken by Franco Fuertes /CC by 4.0
Leaving the house, we planned on going to the beach and on the way, we were greeted by a street performer playing the saxophone. This put me in a euphoric mindset as it seemed almost out of a movie to be able to live such a carefree lifestyle and enjoy the more native culture in Sitges. I now understand why Charles Deering chose to build his house there since the water was absolutely gorgeous and the people were just as nice.
If I have the opportunity to come back to Spain, I will go immediately to Sitges for its beauty and intimacy.
Barcelona As Text 2022
Pictures of the city of Barcelona. Photo’s taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0
A Celebration of Life and Nature
by Adam Vignau of FIU in Barcelona, Catalonia. 27 June 2022.
Barcelona seemed to me as the city in Spain with the closest ties to nature. Everything from the architecture to the environment was a breath of fresh air. This motif gave Barcelona, in my belief, an edge over other cities and towns across Spain. Proven by the large number of tourists that go to see the Sagrada Familia or the beautiful beaches.
By far my favorite Cathedral I saw during my time in Spain was la Sagrada Familia. This beautiful church designed by architect Antoni Gaudi is a masterpiece in short. The use of Modernism to incorporate God’s creation and art created by man really brings heaven to earth. In the other Cathedrals that we visited it seemed as though they were all very dark and ornate. This church instead was very open and colorful with fluorescent stain glass pouring color from every angle. As professor Bailly had mentioned, you really can’t notice if you are inside or outside within the church. This church made me the most emotional since I could really see God in the beauty that is in His creation of our soul and the environment.
Picture inside La Sagrada Familia. Photo’s taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0
While on my day off from class in Barcelona, my group and I visited the aquarium in Barceloneta. There was so much diversity in aquatic species. We were able to see huge gar, penguins and beautiful little jellyfish to name a few. The aquarium was a large attraction for many visitors as it was a place that was clearly well made and had something for all ages. It was right by the beach which made it fit right into the personality Barcelona held.
One of the great monuments towards nature was the Palau de la Musica Catalana. A great concert hall that was designed using Modernisme architecture by Lluis Domenech. This place was awe inspiring with its use of stained glass and plaster to create representations of animals and plants.
Picture inside Palau de la Musica Catalana. Photo taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0
When I was in Madrid it seemed as though I was in a desert city. It was beautiful but it didn’t seem to draw its life from nature but rather from the buildings and the people. This revelation almost made the city seem far away from God in a way. In a sense it was as though the people were honoring their own creation and living within it. This made the streets and buildings seem aged and almost dirty. In comparison, Barcelona had elements of the old but also life with the new, as popular hotspots all by the shoreline. At night you can see hundreds of people gathered by the beach socializing. This was relaxing since nobody was forced to be packed into a small building to have fun. Nature truly gave Barcelona its pathway to success in the modern age.