Lauren Velazquez: España as Text 2022

Lauren in Coney Island, New York. Photo taken by Leslie Velazquez // CC 4.0

Lauren Velazquez is a sophomore at Florida International University pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biology on a pre-med track; aspiring to become an Anesthesiologist. Lauren loves to explore, which gives her the opportunity to not only gain new knowledge but a new perspective. And she is able to do this through John Bailly’s class: Spain Study Abroad: Miami y España: Ida y Vuelta. 

Madrid as Text

New P.O.V

By Lauren Velazquez of FIU at Madrid, Spain on June 11, 2022

Photo of Carlos III and Tio Pepe sign in Puerta del Sol taken by Lauren Velazquez // CC 4.0

As John William Bailly once said: “Madrid is a city that has nothing yet, so much at the same time.”

Madrid is not a city that is known for its beaches (though there are not any), there is not a large valley nor any enormous mountains to view and explore. It is a city full of history and a story in each corner you turn. Madrid contains many monuments around the city that exhibit the history that their citizens have experienced which has shaped Madrid to where it has gotten today. There are so many things around the city that have such fascinating stories. From the statues, monuments, and even the art pieces in the museum. These events that created these stories are the events that have shaped  Madrid to be the way it is today. Madrid did not get the “fame” it has until Felipe II pointed it out to be the new capital of Spain, which caused lots of attraction and attention to Madrid, causing an increase in population and later intense development of the city under Charles III. 

Photo of el Oso y el Madroño in Puerta del Sol taken by Lauren Velazquez // CC 4.0

Some of the most powerful, influential, and meaningful figures in Madrid are created by the Spanish artist that create amazing pieces that have not only made an impression in the art industry with new artistic styles but also the importance and connections these paintings have to society.  Pablo Picasso is a Spanish artist that had great achievements in the art industry. His talent and creativity got him very far in his career due to his ability to think outside the box to explore and create new styles. Art is a form of expression that can say many different things to those that view the art. Picasso was one that preferred to make his art open to interpretation. Everyone who viewed his art was able to come up with their own explanation and description due to the different perspectives that people have. Picasso (and Baroque) then began using a new form of art that they created: cubism. This new style of art came after impressionism.

Being able to go to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte: Reina Sofia, gave me the opportunity to experience this form of art that Picasso had started to use. Cubism is a style that allows the viewer to perceive time and movement. This is something that had never been done before in the art industry, it seemed to be revolutionary. It was very fascinating to experience such a “simple” yet such complex painting that created a new movement in person. This changed the way people were able to perceive pieces of art because it was no longer a still shot of a royal family, or of a train, or the landscape. With cubism anything could be painted and perceived to anything the viewer wanted it to be seen as. Experiencing this form of art to show movement and time, made it seem to me that this style of painting can display an object as if it were in another dimension. There are so many different angles, positions and movements that people and objects can go through in their time of existence. The style of cubism can be interpreted in a way which tells you that there are many different forms in which one may exist through space in time. This tells us that we are not just stuck in one position or just doing one thing. We have the ability to move as we please through time. Another way I viewed cubism was that there are many different perspectives to one situation (or object). Due to the difference in where you are looking from in your physical stance (from a physical perspective) or what you have come into contact with in life that has shaped you as a person; the variation in experiences will alter the perspective that the individual has. I believe this can come off as a very important lesson and I am amazed I can see that simply through a style of painting.

Toledo as Text

White Washed

By Lauren Velazquez of FIU at Toledo, Spain on June 15, 2022.

Photo taken by Lauren Velazquez // CC 4.0

Once our train arrived to the station in Toledo, and I hopped off and took a look around I felt as if I had time traveled. This wasn’t any regular train ride, this train took me back in time into the Medieval Times. The taxis weren’t taxis any more, they were horses that were pulling carts with people in them. The town was surround by large stone walls for protection with a river around it. In order for us to get into town, we had to cross a bridge. Once we entered the town, we were really transported back in time because of how the town was decorated. They were preparing for their celebration of Corpus Christi. It truly was like living in a fairy tale. Everything seemed to beautiful and perfect, nothing could have gone wrong. The town was smothered in flowers and there was a canopy that provided a nice cool shade while also paying respect to God and lead to the cathedral. Some buildings still had their original doors from approximately the 16th century; the doors were designed in a way where there were two doors in one. A large door with a smaller door in it. The large door was made for those that had horses and would enter their home with their horse. For these situations, those that had horses had a stall in the home for their horse. The smaller door was then used for those that traveled on foot, usually those that were poor. These details are the ones that take you back in time and make you feel as if you’re a princess waiting for a knight to come on a horse and sweep you off your feet. But of course those times have changed. 

Photo taken by Lauren Velazquez // CC 4.0
Photo of Synagogue white washed taken by Lauren Velazquez // CC 4.0

The town is filled with lots of history in it. Toledo was a city that was very religious and had lots of variety in the religion that was practiced. There was Christianity, Islamic, and Jewish. The influence of these parties are seen around the city with the architecture styles. As time passed and christianity began to dominate Toledo, those that didn’t practice christianity either had to convert or they were expelled from the city. What amazed me the most is how the city covered up traces of the other religions by converting the synagogues or mosques into churches and/or white washing them. Now white wash was a term I have heard before in the scenario of saying someone is white washed because they lack culture. The synagogue in the city had been painted white; this action removed all of the color off of the walls in the building. This altered the environment in the building. They say that white washing a building was to not only reflect heat off to keep it cool inside but to also disinfect the building due to the plagues that were reoccurring during the time. When these colors were removed the purpose and meaning of the synagogue inside has been stripped away. While the outside of the buildings should always be plain in order to maintain their beliefs of not showing off wealth. The inside shows off the richness. The inside of these religious buildings were colorful, displayed their wealth with gold decorations and a large beautiful alter. Put together it all represents their culture and a form of identity for them, it is their safe place, their sanctuary. But all of this is stripped away once the synagogue was white washed. They no longer have a culture or an identity. All that was left behind was a patch that wasn’t touched in order to show their history. 

Being white washed is something I can also come to recognize has possibly happened to me. Growing up with a Cuban background in American has also stripped me from my “true” culture and identity. I am in a ground between being seen as Cuban or American. If I were to visit Cuba, the culture and background I was raised with I would be considered “white washed” and “gringa” because I am from the states and not fully Cuban, I will be seen as a fraud. It will be as if my culture will shun me and I’d have to convert myself to fully American. In 1492, the jewish had to make the choice to either be expelled from Toledo or to convert to Christianity. Simply with these two choices, they were already being white washed by having to change their culture, religion and identity all because those that were rulers wanted to spread Christianity. 

Seville as Text

Is this my Origin?

By Lauren Velazquez of FIU at Seville, Spain on June 19, 2022.

Photo taken by Lauren Velazquez // CC 4.0

It is amazing to think that my ancestors had passed through Seville’s tower of gold in order to leave Spain to arrive to Cuba. Standing by that tower and I could already imagine my great great grandma getting on a boat to sail off to Cuba to start a new life. If it was the way she got to Cuba, it is unknown in my family. It also made me wonder why leave Spain? Could it have been that she was Jewish and had to leave in order to not convert ? But, yet again, all of this is unknown. Seville was the main city to be in, everything that left to the Americas went through there and everything that came back from the Americas too. This is also the start of the inquisition where they Muslims and Jews begin to either leave or convert because the Spanish have a mission to spread christianity. Seville was the “it girl” of Spain since it’s where everyone had to go through to enter and to leave, but after they Spanish Empire started to weaken so did Seville fame.

Because of the Seville lost some of its fame, they decided to build La Plaza de España. This was built in order to bring life and the spark back but this spark died down quick since the Great Depression hit. Today going to La Plaza de España is an amazing experience. Walking in there you are greeted by all the regions of spain and a beautiful river surround the front half. In this river you can row boats while looking at fish and ducks in the water. The best experience I have had at the plaza was watching the street Flamenco show. The dancers let of such a strong energy that show their passion and devotion  to the dance and their culture. It was a spectacular experience that I will never forget. Flamenco dancing comes from the Africans that have mixed with the Gypsy in Spain; which then goes to the Americas and turns into tap dancing. In my eyes Seville, is the origin that then spills out into not only the Americas but the rest of Spain. 

Photo taken by Lauren Velazquez // CC 4.0

Granada as Text

Outside of the Media

By Lauren Velazquez of FIU at Granada, Spain on June 21, 2022.

Photo taken by Lauren Velazquez // CC 4.0

When you close your eyes to imagine a Islamic influenced castle with a tint of red: The Alhambra should pop up into your head.  

Granada was founded in the 13th century by the Nasrid. Granada was a state that was heavily influenced by Muslim religion. Being and going to the Alhambra was like leaving to another world because it was so different from the rest of the town. The Alhambra had its own own water system that supplied water to the whole palace. The streets that surrounded the palace were all made to aid their daily lives with the needs of their religion; an example of this is the mosques, hammams, stores that shared interest of their cultural needs. It was paradise for the Muslim. 

The Alhambra is also know for its jaw-dropping architecture. The beauty in the Islamic culture and Muslim religion is shown through out the palace. Each of the choices made when building the Alhambra had a purpose and a connection to God. This shows their devotion to God. The Arabic writing along the walls that talk about God. The six foot pool outside that’s so flat and calm that it’s a mirror to the sky; mirroring heaven. The ceilings inside the Alhambra start as a square and spiral into a circle as an illusion. It is the perfection and infinity of God through architectural representation. Although on the outside, it still looks like a square. One of the largest domes in the palace is filled with stars and is seven stories high. These stars and the seven floors represent heaven and where you go to in the afterlife. All of these examples come to show the love that the muslims have for God and the beauty in the religion. 

Photo taken by Lauren Velazquez // CC 4.0

The experience I had at the Alhambra has been one that is life changing for me. Being there present at one do the most beautiful Islamic influenced palaces and home of the muslim religion is eye opening. You see the beauty in their religion and see what their beliefs really are. This gave me a different perspective of the religion in terms of what the media portrays. Growing up, I have always seen the Muslim religion being shamed and made out to be this evil religion. It was said that they just wanted to harm themselves and others and did not care about God. While growing up every time there was a terrorist attack the media blamed it on the religion if it came from someone that was middle eastern. The media has shaped the perspective society had on the Muslim religion and after going to their roots and seeing their mosques and palaces I get to see the truth for myself. These aren’t bad people, their religion isn’t evil either. It is a beautiful religion that I am grateful I got to learn about and experience from where it started, when we were all one before we diverged. 

Barcelona as Text

Homeland vs Motherland

By Lauren Velazquez of FIU at Barcelona, Spain on June 26, 2022.

Photo taken by Lauren Velazquez // CC 4.o

Barcelona is known for being the capital of Catalunya. Catalunya is another region in Spain that is independent and are not considered Spainard, they are Catalonia. They have their own identity and culture compared to those that are from Spain. They have their own flag to represent their region and their independence. There is a tale tied to their flag and how it came to be. According to Robert Hughes, “Louis dipped his fingers in Guifré’s blood and dragged them down the shield.” This is where their red strips are derived from. Their flag also consists of a blue triangle with a star that was inspired by Cuba and their desires for independence. This is what Catalunya and Cuba have in common, they shared a dream of achieving independence. Knowing this information made me mentally transport back home to Miami. Each city I have visited in Spain has made me make a new connected to where I believe my culture and identify comes from: Cuba. It is remarkably interesting to see that Cuba had been heavily influenced by Spain, yet this time Catalunya was influenced by Cuba. I find this concept to be captivating because for as long as I remember, Europe, specifically Spain has been one of the largest influences on other territories in the Western Hemisphere. What came to mind when I was told that Catalunya’s flag was influenced by Cuba and their desire for independence it put a heavy weight on my heart. All I could think about is all the trouble Cuba has gone through to gain independence and get out of the terrible state they are in yet there has been no progress. They seem to be going backwards in time, further away from independence each day. It is almost as if the roles should be reversed, and Cuba be influenced by Catalunya since they achieved independence. At the same time, seeing their flag and knowing their history gave me a sense of hope for Cuba and what can happen for them later in the future.  

Sitges as Text

Here and There

By Lauren Velazquez of FIU at Sitges, Spain on June 26,2020.

Photo taken by Diana Cortada of Friends // CC 4.0

Before going to Sitges, I had visited Charles Deering’s home in Miami. This was an imitation of his home back in Spain. Visiting the Deering estate in Miami transported you to Catalunya Spain. The home consisted of Islamic, and Gothic influenced arches that were used in Spain, that he brought back to the Americas. Walking outside his home, the view you have is Biscayne Bay. I remember looking at the bay and enjoying the view; as I blinked, my next view was the Mediterranean Sea.

Photo taken by Lauren Velazquez // CC 4.0

I was transported to Sitges. I was at the Charles Deering property in Spain. Charles Deering donated to his home which became el Palau de Maricel. This is one of Sitges’ biggest pride. Exploring his home in Spain I was able to make connections between both of his properties. The style of architecture stayed consistent, as well as his love for art. Both properties had amazing views of the bodies of water that surrounded the homes. Sitges is a beautiful, whitewashed town; they have lots of passion for the town, as well as their identity of being Catalonian. Being in Sitges gave me a feeling of being closer to Charles and as if I were visiting an old friend in their home country. Being in his old home in Spain felt welcoming and gave me a sense of comfort, while being sent back in time, while also feeling at home. The beauty of the town and the amusement of the home filled me with so much excitement and warmth. Sitges was exceptionally good to me, making it an unforgettable experience because right after we left his home, we hit the beach. Being at the beach really made me feel at home. I pretended I was Deering leaving my home on a beautiful Sunday morning to share a fun beach day with friends that eventually became family. I will forever hold a special place for Sitges in my heart and recommend others to experience Deering’s home in Miami to then visit his home in Sitges.  

Lauren Velazquez: Ida España 2022

Ida: Spanish Influence on Fashion in the 16th Century

By Lauren Velazquez of FIU

Lauren in Coney Island, New York. Photo taken by Leslie Velazquez // CC 4.0

Lauren Velazquez is a sophomore at Florida International University pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biology on a pre-med track; aspiring to become an Anesthesiologist. Lauren loves to explore, which gives her the opportunity to not only gain new knowledge but a new perspective. And she is able to do this through John Bailly’s class: Spain Study Abroad: Miami y España: Ida y Vuelta.


There were many different aspects of the Americas (pre-columbian time) that were influenced and transformed due to the interactions of Columbus and the beginning of the colonization process in the Americas. The Europeans were more advanced in comparison to those who were previously settled in the Americas. Between the two parties there were lots of exchanges that occurred with their encounter, some beneficial others being disadvantages. 

Fashion was one of the concepts that changed dramatically during the period of the European explorers settling in the Americas. Fashion is seen as a form of expression which holds the individual’s identity and culture. It is known that before the Americas were colonized, those native to the lands had their own sense of fashion. Their “sense of fashion” branched off from their experience using their resources made available to them and the knowledge they gained from living on the land in order to survive. 

Prior to Colonization

The groups that inhabited the American lands were the: Native Americans, Eskimos, the Aztec, the Maya and the Inca. The way these groups dressed themselves were according to their geographic location and the resources they were able to obtain. Animal skin played the biggest role in all of their clothing items regardless of their location and environment. 

Painting of Sauk and Fox Indians // CC 4.0 Karl Bodmer, 1833

Making use of everything around them and not letting anything go to waste; Native Americans would skin the animal they were using as a food source to make clothing out of them. With the animal’s skin, dresses were made for the women and garments for the men. The common animals at the time that were used were: buffalo, deers and wolves (to name a few) (Medicine. B). This was accomplished through the process of tanning. The animal is skinned, then the hair would be removed and would be left out to dry with the use of oils in order to convert it into leather. During this time period, the Natives executed  the tanning process using the oils from the animals brain. This was a convenient way for them to use the resources made available to them whilst not wasting anything in their environment. It was known and recognized that the Native Americans were conscious about the resources they used in order to avoid destroying and taking advantage of their land. Their sewing was done using bones and the animals’ fibrous tissue. There were also accessories involved in these outfits for both men and women. These were fabricated with the use of feathers and buffalo horns to make the head pieces worn by their tribe (Britannica). Another feature included in their attires were the body paint included, usually being red or black. This “paint” came from the clay and mud. This paint was used for different reasons; those being camouflage and protection. The natives would use the body paint in order to camouflage themselves with their surroundings for either hunting or for war. In order to protect themselves from the sun and possibly any other threats to the skin, like bugs, the paint also came in handy. There were times where paint was used regularly in their attire, which makes it a part of the Native American fashion. These were all a part of their culture. 

The Aztec, Mayas, and Inca dressed similarly to the natives, having used similar resources. Although this group mainly used cotton fibers to create clothing. Men wore garments, women wore dresses or skirts with scarves around their breast and the children remained without clothing (Britannica). Their attires were considered to be colorful due to their techniques in dying the clothes. They had decorations on their closing as well, there were flowers sewed on to their shirts, blouses, and dresses. The Aztec, Maya and Inca also wore lots of gold jewelry. Their style of dressing had meaning attached to it, it was more than just a clothing item used to cover up: it was a day distinguished who they were and what they represented. The representation their attire expressed was the social rank, gender and even religion (Beltrán-Rubio. L). 

Painting of Inuit family from Alaska wearing fur parkas, early 19th century // CC 4.0 Library of Congress

Eskimos on the other hand had a different style due to the intense weather conditions they faced. Eskimos used animals that were heavy with fur, when they tanned their animals skins they left the hairs on. They made clothing with the fur on the inside in order to keep warm. They were sewed to fit the skin and keep the cold out; in comparison to the Native with loose attire to remain cool in the hot weather. The animal they used to make these articles of clothing was the skin and fur from a caribou (National Park Service). This type of skin was ideal for the conditions that the Eskimos were in. The skin and fur of a caribou consisted of caribou hide; the caribou hide helped with insulation and prevented the cold air from entering the fur into the skin as well as avoiding the water from the snow (National Park Service). Something interesting about the Eskimos is that they used the gut of the seal to make their trunks water resistant (Britannica). Again this is something they developed because of their environment, the snow is very wet and to avoid them from getting wet, they discovered that the seal’s gut would aid in this. 

Photo of Chief Iron Tail, Sioux Indian: Gertrude Kasebier // CC 4.0 by National Museum of American History, 1898

All of the attire worn in these groups had meaning. Usually, their head pieces held the most meaning and portrayed their rank. Each group and tribe had their own culture and meaning behind their headdresses and why they were made the way they were. These headpieces had various usages: used as war bonnets for those that were brave and displayed leadership, used as a fashion accessory (by the natives), and used for spiritually driven ceremonies (Hill. A). The headdresses used by Native Americans are seen as the most significant in their book of fashion. The headpieces were obtained in different ways. For the war bonnet, those who have gone to war and proven their bravery will collect feathers eventually obtaining enough for their piece to be made. For ceremonies, one that the headdress is commonly used for is pow wow and even weddings; these headpieces are also made and gifted to those who earn it. Giving consideration to the meaning behind the headpieces made by the Native Americans, it heavily impacts the way they are worn in today’s day and age. These are not pieces that should be worn to make a fashion statement. These headpieces have significant meaning to the Native Americans and their culture. When someone outside of their culture has worn a Native American headpiece, it is seen as cultural appropriation. It is disrespectful to wear a large feathered headpiece for recreational purposes without understanding the importance that the headdresses held for the Native Americans back in the day. The hardships that the Native Americans faced should be taken into consideration in order to pay respect to their culture and identity.  

Before Leaving the Home Land

Painting of Thomas Cromwell // CC 4.0  by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1537.

 In the 16th century, Europeans were in the process of developing their own sense of style during this period: The Renaissance. Those that inhabited the Americas had a very style different from the Europeans. The style was derived from the English, French, Italian and most influential the Spanish. This difference came from not only their location but the technological advantages the Europeans parties had. Europeans had clothing made out of silk and cotton shirts. These shirts were heavy in detail. The necks of the shirts were embroidered and the front of the chest area had big ruffles. The garments the men wore varied depending on their age. The younger men would wear loose shorts that were fitted at their knees in order to show their leg structure, whilst having the garments under. In contrast to the older men that wore: garments, shorts and a long skirt. The purpose of the gown was to cover their legs. The way the skirts for the men were made had an opening in the front, folded back to show the difference in what they wore while also keeping it covered (Britannica). With each of these outfits the men also wore hats that were made of velvet material in the shape of a triangle, worn at an angle. Shortly after, this changed leaving men to wear only trunks with thigh high boots and a fitting jacket with buttons down the middle. The women constantly wore gowns, long exaggerated puffy gowns. Under the gowns there were garments the women wore that were sure to be seen while wearing the gown. The lining of the gown for the neck was in a square shape, extending out into long sleeves (Britannica). European fashion was heavy on petite bodies for the women. Their gowns were worn with corsets that gave the illusion that they had small waists. The accessories worn by the women would be large pieces of jewelry in order to help in framing their face, usually consisting of gold or pearl pieces. Lots of colors and floral patterns were being used for these dresses. 

Settlement has Taken Place

After exploring the way the two parties dressed before their interaction, there were many differences. One of the differences seen is the material used for their apparel. Those native to the Americas resorted to animal skin converted to leather to create their garments and dresses. The Europeans did not use animal skin, they were ‘more advanced’ and used silk to create different pieces of clothing: garments, trunks, skirts and gowns. The way the Europeans dressed seemed to be more conservative in comparison to the Native Americans that usually just wore garments. At the same time, there were some similarities: there were accessories involved in their styles. Native Americans used headpieces made from feathers and buffalo horns while Europeans had necklaces made of gold and pearls.

When the Europeans began to settle within the Americans, there was more of a change in their style in comparison to the style of Native Americans. The Native Americans began to incorporate different items in their apparel. They began to use silk as the Europeans did in order to make some of their clothing. They also incorporated glass beads and metal pots to resemble jewelry that they made to wear. Overall, Native Americans kept their style in order to preserve their identity.  On the contrary, Europeans that settled had to change their style and what they wore in order to live comfortably in their new environment. Depending on where they settled, there were different climates they were experiencing that varied from the weather conditions seen in Europe. For the Spanish that settled in Florida, there was a similar climate between the two locations so they did not need to change the way they dressed. Other Europeans settled in places up north that had intense weather conditions. This resulted in them having to change their attire; they turned to fur and animal skins in order to keep them warm. This is knowledge the Europeans had gained from the Native Americans living on the land. Due to the change of environment and lifestyle the Europeans were facing in the process of settling; they were constantly working and completing projects. This changed the way they made their clothes to material that was more sturdy for the day to day tasks they were completing (Lepionka. M). European men began to wear “breeches”, which are full length pants with the fitting jackets. The women began to wear shorter gowns with short sleeves in order to also aid their daily tasks. The new environment had influenced the change in style for Europeans.

Fashion varies around the world depending on your social status, culture, identity and geographic location. It is also something that is subject to change depending on the development of not only your environment but how the individual lives their day to day life; as did the fashion of the Europeans that migrated to the Americas. Fashion can be used and seen as an art form to express emotions and stories. There are items in fashion that have significant meaning that can be tied to spiritual ceremonies like the Native Americans did. 

Works Cited

Britannica, “The Pre-Columbian Americas”, 2022

Medicine. B, “North America: History of Indigenous Peoples’ Dress”, 2020

Lepionka. M, “Native American Influence on English Fashions”, 2018

Hill. A, “Great Plains Feather Headdress”,2020

National Park Service, “Caribou Skin Clothing”, 2021

Rubio. L, “Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Dress”, 2021

Lauren Velazquez: Vuelta España 2022

Vuelta: Took Flight

By Lauren Velazquez of FIU

Lauren in Coney Island, New York. Photo taken by Leslie Velazquez // CC 4.0

Lauren Velazquez is a sophomore at Florida International University pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biology on a pre-med track; aspiring to become an Anesthesiologist. Lauren loves to explore, which gives her the opportunity to not only gain new knowledge but a new perspective. And she is able to do this through John Bailly’s class: Spain Study Abroad: Miami y España: Ida y Vuelta.

Photo taken by Lauren Velazquez // CC 4.0

Studying aboard has been an unforgettable experience, that has not only shaped me but has altered my perspective in many aspects. You are thousands of miles away from the place you call home and those who you call family. Growing up, in school we are taught that Spain is where it all began, where the Americas were “birthed” from once they were discovered by the Spanish. In many ways, many different things in the Americas were shaped and influenced by the Spanish; even if we want to disagree. Going to Spain was seen as something deeper to me than just taking a class in Spain to experience the food and the beauty the country has to offer. Being in this country was a breath of fresh air to me, offering a landscape I had never witnessed before. This is an opportunity for not just to gain knowledge but to grow as a person. Although we were with friends and a professor we were still alone at the same time. You were free, independent with no worries in the world except for what is the next thing you are going to see. As someone in your twenties in Spain; the possibilities are endless. Young and hungry for an adventure, this trip was the perfect opportunity to seize and give just a taste of what else there is for us to see in the world. Spain study abroad was just a sneak peek.

Photo taken by Lauren Velazquez // CC 4.0

It is known that some way, somehow the Spanish have influenced the Americas in many different ways; since they are basically the founders of the new land. An example in my scenario, is that I always thought that croquettes were a Cuban dish and that they created. But come to find out, they were Spanish all along! As someone with Cuban origin, I was transported back to my actual origin: where my family had been and started before going to Cuba. I took it as a chance to find myself and who I am and what I derive from. Before this trip and during this trip there were moments where I was left in awe due to the information I found out. Foods, culture, music, and religion that I believed were from Cuba; really had been originated in Spain. It was very shocking to see how comfortable and at home I felt in a foreign country I had never been to before just because there is so much in common with where my cultural identity stems from. Right before arriving to Spain, I found out that my great grandma was Spanish, and she migrated to Cuba. Learning this made me extremely excited to explore and learn about where my family tree comes from. One of the most touching moments I encountered was in Seville visiting Tore del Oro. This was where everything came in and out of Spain from the Americas. From produce, materials and even people. When I heard this, I immediately imagined my great grandparents hopping on a boat sailing off to Cuba after they went through el Tore del Oro where they kept documentations. In that moment, my mind took me back in time; I imagined an extensive line of people wrapping around the tower with so many things in their hands. From objects, food and even animals while waiting for the green light to hop on a boat to the Americas. On the other side of the tower is the water; here I imagined I would see people directing the boats as they arrive back home from the Americas.

Photo taken by Lauren Velazquez // CC 4.0

A crucial factor in this trip was getting to know the history of the buildings and neighborhoods we visited. Having this knowledge shapes the way you observe your surroundings, the interpretations you have as well as the interactions you experience. Every place that was visited had a meaning. During my visit, I had many moments when my imagination took over as I learned information about the places we went to and buildings we saw as a class. Every place we visited left me fascinated. I feel as if every corner you turned you see their history, the good and bad (portrayed as good) as well as the pride and passion for their country. In was specifically seen in Barcelona with the flag of Catalunya. Before visiting Barcelona, I was completely clueless to the fact that they independent from Spain. Catalunya has their own flag that is inspired from the Cuban flag. It has a blue triangle with a white start, with red and yellow strips. The story of how the red strips happened resembled a fairy tale: “Louis dipped his fingers in Guifré’s blood and dragged them down the shield.” said Robert Hughes. But again, the inspiration of making it look the way it is came from Cuba and the desire they have for independence. The passion Cuba has to reach independence is seen around the world and Catalunya had the same passion. It was remarkably interesting to see how different they are from the rest of Spain despite being a part of the same country. Their pride, passion, and love for being part of Catalunya is shown by its people: representation of their flag, claiming to be from Catalunya (not Spanish), as well as speaking Catalan. This is what shocked me the most; the fact that they even have their own language. It was intriguing to see how separated Catalunya was from the rest of the country. In a way, it felt like I left Spain to a different European country.

Photo taken by John Bailly // CC 4.0

I came to learn that there are many different tales that the Spanish have for how some things came to be. These tales are tradition to them and their identity. It kept me on my toes waiting to see what was going to be the next tale being told by Professor Bailly. There was even a tale on why the rocks in the mountains of Montserrat look the way they do; they were sawed by Angels that came down from the heavens. Hiking Montserrat and getting up on the rocks carved by Angels was one of the most unforgettable moments on the trip. I have never been one to be athletic, or into sports and much less into outdoor activities to be completely transparent. Before that moment I never saw myself as one to hike, or to even get on top of a mountain, due to my fear of heights. But this trip was a trip for adventure and before leaving Miami I was determined to get over my fear and try something out of my comfort zone. During the journey, you are surrounded with nothing but nature: trees, twigs, leaves, rocks, birds and even the sound of the wind. This is a change of scenery compared to what is experienced back at home. Being disconnected from everything with just one goal in mind: get to the top. On the way up there were many moments when I cursed my life away (although it really was not that bad to get to the top) but at the same time appreciated mother nature and the way I felt embraced and safe with how she surrounded me. Once I arrived at the top, I have never felt so free spirited in my life. I was so proud of myself; I had doubted myself the whole time thinking I could not have done it. In that moment, looking over the rocks, being able to see miles and miles into the distance: everything stood still. I had done it, I was there; anything was possible, and anything is possible. To me this was one of the most impactful experiences on the trip. It showed me that I have the ability do whatever I set my mind too, which is an important and very useful skill for someone in their twenties. These were one the moments and experiences I was hoping to find on the trip to Spain with FIU.

Photo taken by Lauren Velazquez // CC 4.0
Photo taken by Lauren Velazquez // CC 4.0

The country was also heavily influenced by religion; there were two dominant religions that were seen in the history of Spain: Jewish and Muslim. Before the inquisition, these were the two religions that were not only running the country but have influenced almost everything in Spain. The architecture in Spain has relied heavily on Islamic and Moorish influence. Many of the arches and styles used by the Islamic people that lived in Spain before, are the same buildings that are praised by the Spanish. Some of the most beautiful buildings that carried the most history was those that were Islamic. While on this trip, one of the biggest changes of perspectives I have had was my thoughts on the Muslim religion. Their mosques had the most beautiful tiles as well as words on the walls. All about loving life, trusting God, having faith. None of these words match what the media portrays the Muslim religion to be like. On the media, they show us that is all violence and hatred. In reality, it is the complete opposite. On the trip, some of our classmates were Muslim. This made the experience even better because we were able to have more of a personal connection with the religion when learning about it. We have built relationships with these people, and they have expressed their thoughts and beliefs; which again did not match what the media portrays. Once again, there was a drastic change in my perspective while being on this trip. My experience with the Muslim religion is not even close to what others believe it is. It is such a beautiful religion that I think everyone should be open to learning about and accepting it; create their own moment and experience before agreeing with the judgement of the media, which is not always right.

Whilst being in Spain, I learned that art is also a very large factor in their history. There are many amazing and powerful artists that came from Spain that have influenced artist styles. These artists are also very important to the history of Spain. Two of the most influential artists were Picasso and Diego Velazquez. It is said that Picasso was the artist that invented and spread Cubism. This style of painting was significant because it brought the idea of time and motion to painting. Before this, everything was still: only one moment from one perspective that was being captured. With Cubism, there was more than one moment captured at once. This made it possible for the audience to form their own thoughts and perspectives on the piece instead of a fixed portrait. One of the most famous pieces is: Guernica. This piece had traveled before it got to its home in Spain. This painting was a representation of the effect the bombing in Spain caused to its citizens. This horrific event is now one of the most powerful paintings. Seeing this piece in person truly was life changing. To start, the size of the painting is extremely overwhelming; it seems to grasp you. And just when you think you have looked at it long enough to see it all you have not, there is always more that Picasso must show you. There are many different aspects of the event that he shows you; it is up to the audience to distinguish what is outside and what is inside. It is seen how not only women, children and men were affected but even the environment around them. Just looking at the painting made you feel consumed by it and as if you were present in the moment. You were able to feel the emotions; the pain that was felt by the mothers that lost their children. The fear that the people felt in the moment of the event. As well these were one of the moments that will stick to me, I have never had art make me feel the way the bombing of Guernica by Picasso made me feel.

Overall, studying abroad in Spain was an unforgettable experience; full of adventure and beautiful memories and a beautiful class.  

Photo taken by a stranger on the mountain // CC 4.0

Lauren Velazquez: Miami as Text 2022

Lauren in Coney Island, New York. Photo taken by Leslie Velazquez // CC 4.0

Lauren Velazquez is a sophomore at Florida International University pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biology on a pre-med track; aspiring to become an Anesthesiologist. Lauren loves to explore, which gives her the opportunity to not only gain new knowledge but a new perspective. And she is able to do this through John Bailly’s class: Spain Study Abroad: Miami y España: Ida y Vuelta.

Deering as Text

History in the Rocks

By Lauren Velazquez of FIU at Deering Estate on January 28,2022

Photo of a Solution Hole taken by Lauren Velazquez // CC 4.0

Deering Estate is more than just an aesthetic environment for you to go have a picnic and take pictures. And more than just a hotel for you to stay at before getting to Key West. There is a story behind every single item in that location: from the way the windows are structured, to the trees in the trail. Deering Estate contains a history of identity and culture for many people without them knowing. 

For Charles, his property was a recreation of his old home in Spain; bringing the style of architecture used by the Spainards to Miami. What should be noted in this is that the upbringing of the buildings on the property were built by Bahimans. This ties into the diversity that Deering Estate holds. Not only from an ecological point of view (Deering Estate has 8 ecosystems), but the diversity of people who have inhabited the area. This was a site that was lived on by Tequesta people, there is even fossil evidence of it to this day on those grounds. The tools they used during their time (shells) and even a cemetery. 

It was eye opening to me having to realize that the Tequesta people from thousands of years ago are considered our geographical ancestors. This shows the importance of the historical identity that Deering Estate holds. One way or another, it seems that we are all tied to the Deering Estate through either geographical ancestors or cultural ancestors, which both lived on those grounds.To me, Deering Estate can be seen as the roots that Miami grew from to become what it is today.

Vizcaya as Text

Come in for a Good Time

By Lauren Velazquez of FIU at Vizcaya Museum on February 20,2022

Photo of Vizcaya’s back entrance taken by Lauren Velazquez //CC 4.0
Photo of Bacchus, Roman God of wine and ecstasy by Lauren Velazquez // CC 4.0

When you enter Vizcaya, you get the feeling you’re going to have a good time; whether it is now in 2022 or back in 1916 with James Deering himself. The vast space in every area of the house, in and out, makes you feel free. The house is exposed yet so private at the same time. Surrounded by a moat and lots of trees for privacy from the outside; but once you enter it is nothing but open space embracing the lifestyle that Miami now portrays. The life of being free and having fun, born to party, is what is first seen as you walk in embodied by a statue of Bacchus.

Photo of Ponce de Leon taken by Lauren Velazquez // CC 4.0

While this could have been the beginning of Miami’s reputation, there was still appreciation of Spain all over the house. Before entering the house, you walk through a trail, and in that trail there is a statue of Ponce de Leon. Deering’s appreciation and recognition of how Miami, Florida came to be is implied by having this sculpture present. There is significance in Ponce de Leon’s pose and him standing on the globe; he was the one that gave Europeans “access” to Florida, as he discovered it.

The house invites you to more than just the party life style of Miami and Deering, life by the ocean is also a big factor. The view of Biscayne from all the windows in sight and a tiny caravel as detail in the windows and stone. All of this was significant to Deering because of the expansion and success of the Spanish. But it should also be recognized all the harm that was done to native Indigenous people in the process, by the taking of the land. As well as the harm down to Bahamians for the house to be built. There are many different types of European styles that are shown in different rooms of the house, which creates an adventure for those visiting, you never know what you’re going to see.

Miami as text

When life gives you oranges

By Lauren Velazquez of FIU at Downtown, Miami on March 11,2022

Photo of Dropped Bowl by Lauren Velazquez // CC 4.0

Behind all the beautiful beaches and the flying sky scrapers, there is lots of ancient history. Miami was not always as modern as it has come to be. Before it became known for its night life, it was the hot spot for settlers to settle. The Miami River was an amazing spot due to the variety in the environment, and connection. between the Everglades and Atlantic Ocean. Along side the Miami River lies the Miami Circle. The Miami Circle is a sacred spot to the ancestors of the land: the Tequesta people. It is more than just a pretty circle in the middle of a dog park. It holds some of the most fascinating artifacts used by Tequesta people. It is such a significant area that it has even been blessed by natives.

Since the interaction between the Tequesta people and Europeans, the city has grown and developed tremendously while still keeping the history alive with buildings and monuments. The Fort Dallas park will take you back in time to when Flagler was around. The homes will show you the past, but if you look around it will bring you back to present time; so you absorb the history and see how the city came to be. Around Miami you have the newest buildings 100 feet in the air surrounded by windows for a great view while also having some of the oldest buildings telling you a million stories of what they have seen.

All of this is represented by the Dropped Bowl in the center of the city. The explosion of the city growing and becoming what it is today.

SoBe as Text

Locals Only

By Lauren Velazquez of FIU at South Beach, Miami on April 1,2022

Photo of Fisher Island by Lauren Velazquez // CC 4.0

A place where you can feel free, taste the salt in the air and look at a variety of different architecture styles: South Beach in Miami. This part of the island that is off of Miami, has some of the most popular beaches in the world. The life style this area carries is what attractions many people to vacation on these beaches. These famous beaches have two perspectives depending on who you ask: a tourist and a local.

From a local’s point of view, South Beach is constantly crowded. It is a place for people to go vacation if they aren’t from Miami. A saying most people that are from Miami follow: “We live where you vacay”. It is sometimes a mission to get to South Beach due to the traffic on the only bridge available to get there. As a local, it is important to know the right day and time to go to the beach and enjoy the beautiful scenery South Beach has to offer. The creation and growing of South Beach has caused environmental problems. Since it is only a piece of land made of sand, there are constants flood concerns. The main support of the island was ripped away years ago when it was it was first being built. The island was originally surrounded by mangroves. These mangroves were the back bone of the island; protecting it from erosion and floods. Mangrove forests also have a variety of life that depend on them to maintain their ecosystem. They are the habitat for many species. Due to the absence of these mangroves, South Beach will one day be a city under water. Although for now it is holding up.

Photo of Avalon by Lauren Velazquez // CC 4.0

From a tourist point of view: South beach is the best place for you to get some sun during the day, have some brunch with a show, and enjoy some architecture. There are three main styles that dominate the streets of South Beach: Mediterranean, MeMo and the most attractive Art Deco. Art Deco is used to show how society was becoming obsessed with the new styles being created reflecting spaceships and appliances.

At the end of the day, weather if you are a local or a tourist, South Beach is going to be one of the best places for you to go and relax to have fun.

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