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Los Toros

Debora Estrada Lobo

The corridas de toros has been cultural tradition in Spain for many ages. Although it was the romans who started this tradition during their Romanization of the Iberian Peninsula, it wasn’t until the eighteenth century that the modern corrida de toros was established. Since then, this tradition has become one of many emblems of Spain and its culture. Although this tradition remains, there currently great debate about its continuity as many Spaniards and animal lovers consider this tradition a cruel abuse towards the toros.


Last weekend I attended my first corrida de toros with a group of friends. I was personally not very affected by what I saw, as I had a good understanding on what to expect. However, many of my friends were repulsed by the spectacle. I think there are two ways we can think about the tradition. We can see it as a cruel abuse towards the bulls or an art and
cultural tradition.151007d

This current dispute has caught my attention and so I have researched both sides. Yes, there is no doubt that the bulls are being hurt with the final goal of having them killed. Yes, people are watching a spectacle and will most likely watch a bull die at the hands of a torero. The antitaurinos claim the tradition to be destructive, cruel and torturous towards animals. If we were to see the corridas de toros in just this way, everyone would probably be against such a show. However, the people who want the tradition to continue also have good points.

According to my research, toros bravos are some of the only animals that are well treated, and roam freely, throughout their life outside of the arena. Like many other animal meats, the meat of the toros killed at the corridas are also eaten. Not only is the meat used but their skins are also used to produce leather goods. Aside from the goods that may come from the bull, the animal is one of few that can fight for its life and “die with dignity.” With this information we can also see the other side of the dispute.151007b

I personally think that the art that some claim the corridas to have comes from the toreros. On average, toreros start training from a very young age and have to not only be physically and mentally prepared but also have to perform with a certain aesthetic manner and technique. This is what I think make the fight interesting to watch. Throughout the last portion of the fight the matador and the bull are in close proximity of each other; at some points, the matador can even have an arm around the bull as it circles the matador.

If there was not the possibility of death to either party, I think anyone could see a certain beauty in the movement of both parties. As this is not the case, the corridas de toros are certainly not for the faint hearted as in the end, either the toro or torero will die.

Debora Estrada Lobo - exploring contemporary Spain

Too Good to Charm?

Debora Estrada Lobo

It’s been almost a month since I first arrived in Seville, yet I feel as if I have been here much longer while also feeling as if yesterday was my first day here. Seville is a beautiful city, its streets are always busy and there is a contagious and calm lifestyle. My fellow classmates and I like to describe it as a “pueblo” within a city. A city that is not only rich in culture but also with an interesting history.

Throughout these past weeks, every person in my group has experienced different hardships or experiences; however, my experiences have sometimes been very different from the rest of the group. I should start by saying that I am both bilingual and bicultural. And although being completely fluent in Spanish has its benefits, it also seems to have some restraining aspect.

Being fluent in Spanish does allow you to better communicate with Spaniards and fend for yourself; however, speaking Spanish so fluently seems to take the charm away from being a foreigner. This does not mean that I’m not interacting and making friends with locals, it simply means that locals seem more interesting in talking to those who do not resemble or talk like Spaniards. Maybe they just like having a hard time talking to someone! Oddly enough, I’m not the only one with this interesting setback—a fellow bilingual Hoosier is also experiencing this phenomenon. Having been on the other side on many occasions, I think the charm comes from the interest and the effort a person makes to get to know the culture and country that he or she is visiting. Nonetheless, the fluid interactions we have with the locals can be deeper, more interesting, two-sided and very rewarding. While I’m in Spain, I will take in as much Spanish interaction as possible, foreign charm or not.

The non-language barrier has also had an effect on my host family. Concha, my host mother, has commentated on the ease and difference it makes to have a fluent Spanish speaker in her home. Not only do we easily talk about our days and deeper subjects, but my biculturalism has also been appreciated. Since I arrived I have become involved in the kitchen and other small house activities that other students have not been engaged in due to a difference in culture or simply due to some communication issues.

However, whether you are bilingual, studying Spanish or just starting to learn the language, your experiences will be eye-opening and a great adventure! With only a month into my study abroad, I can already claim that some of my most wonderful memories are those that I have formed during this experience abroad.

Debora Estrada Lobo - exploring contemporary Spain

Panic sets in

Debora Estrada Lobo

I only have two weeks before my departure date and I still have not started packing. Although this seems as procrastination, the truth is I haven’t been home for most of the summer. I’m starting to panic and it’s really just the fact that I’m not home and therefore can do nothing about it.

A week is more than plenty of time to pack for this extended trip; and even more so if you have some travel experience. Yet my anxiety continues to build as each day passes and I’m still not home. To calm myself down I keep telling myself “You are only going to focus on the essential once you get home and you most certainly won’t over pack”. At this point, I also decided to challenge myself to pack only one suitcase and my weekend travel backpack. To an over-packer like myself this really seems impossible.


It is now only a week before my departure and I’m finally home. First thing I do is start piling a list of the clothe items I need to take with me. The list looks something like this: 4 jeans, 6 short-sleeved shirts, 12 long-sleeved shirts, one “heavy” jacket… And so it begins. All clothing items are packed airtight using Ziploc packing bags; which are really useful to free up a lot of space. It is on to cosmetics and toiletries and a similar list is compiled. In all honesty, I know that I will over pack this section but I had enough space and decide to do it. A list for electronics, documentation and currency is created and throughout the week all packing is completed.


It’s now departure day and everything is ready! It seems unbelievable, but I did it! I managed to complete my challenge. Let’s just see how I manage with these three pieces of luggage will I take to taxis and a train from Madrid to Seville!

Debora Estrada Lobo - exploring contemporary Spain

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