While I was in Spain to study, I think I learned a lot more outside of the classroom than I did within the classroom. Learning the culture first hand was much more beneficial than learning about it from the stories and lessons I could learn in a classroom. One of the best and most memorable cultural experiences that I had during my time was meeting the owner of Tia Vicente’s, Jose. This was a very small bar right near the plaza. Jose became like a father figure to the majority of us on our trip as he gave us advice about which bars to go to and where fun events were being held. Every night before going anywhere, we would all meet here. Even though it was a small bar that wasn’t very popular, it was our favorite place to start our night. We would always tell Jose our plans for the night and he would always let us know the best way to get there and if it was a safe place to go. He truly did look out for us throughout our entire time in Santiago de Compostela!
Throughout our time there, he took us to many great cultural events including a fiesta in the park and a winery. The fiesta in the park was similar to a carnival, with games and food carts set up. There was also live music and Jose taught us the dances that went with the different songs! He even helped us navigate the cultural food stands, steering us clear of the more exotic carts. He also took the time to set up a private event for us at his friends winery, where he explained the different types of wines and which tapas are supposed to be served with each kind.
On the wall of his bar, he had many photos of large groups of college kids much like us. So, when our time in Spain came to an end, we too got a large group photo with him and he even let us stand behind the bar! Capturing a photo within the place we all first went out together as strangers on the last day when we were all friends was not only a great gift to give to Jose for his great hospitality throughout our time, but a great reminder for me as well. Next to the Spain flag and map of Galicia on my wall, is this photo. It is one of the most important photos that I have as it conveys so much emotion through a single photo.
It is funny how even though I visited beautiful places and met amazing people, it is the small things that I experienced in Spain that I remember the most. The people like Jose that I met during my time in Santiago de Compostela are the people I am always going to remember and speak of fondly whenever I tell people about my short six weeks in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.