Hiking the Camino de Santiago: Video Transcript

Rachel Baker [senior double major in Political Science and Spanish, Class of 2018]: One of the primary aspects that drew me to Miami was actually a lot of the student body is involved in study abroad, and trying to fit that piece into swimming can be a little difficult sometimes, but the timing of the trip was great because it was over the summer, and I received information about this from the Office of Study Abroad, and that was just a super great opportunity to get involved. I had always wanted to go to Spain. I thought that was so incredible that they were leading a trip there, and there was also a component where we hiked the Camino de Santiago, which sounded really cool and interesting to me.

We lived in a little city called Gijon, which is in the north of Spain in a region called Asturias. We started pretty close to France, and we biked a portion, and then we had a couple tours in between, and then we ended up walking the remaining 100 kilometers to the city. The whole trip in total was about two weeks. We were up every morning, sometimes before dawn, getting ready to go, and hiking until dusk.

We were really encouraged by our professor to interact with pilgrims along the Camino, and several of us had the opportunity to do that. There were actually several Americans. It was really popular for the German tourists as well. I remember meeting a group of older gentlemen who had actually been on the Camino for several months, and I had only been on it for a week, so it was interesting to have that in perspective.

What is at the finish is the Cathedral de Santiago, and when we got there, it was just this amazing experience, knowing you've been on this grueling journey and then seeing the final kind of place. It is the supposed resting place of the body of Saint James, really big for the Catholic faith, relics of that sort. And we attended a church ceremony in the cathedral, and it was attended by people from all over the world. The message was given in many languages, and that was just an incredible feeling to be there, feel like you made it, and that you're sharing this experience with people all over the world.

My host family almost exclusively only spoke Spanish, so right off the plane I was already having to switch into that mode of Spanish all the time. My classes were taught all in Spanish. Often times my friends and I would just speak in Spanish outside of class because it was easier.

I think that it really just opened my eyes to the world. I'd been to Europe before, strictly for vacations though. You make new friends, you experience a new culture, you're really just placed into a situation where you have to communicate with others and learn as you go.

[January 2018]