Jenesha Robert ‘21 is majoring in Government and Arabic Studies. As a CSTEP student she was motivated to study the aspect of the Covid-19 pandemic. Her research focused on how the implementation of state mandated stay at home orders, or the lack thereof, impacted the wave of Covid-19 cases in the summer of 2020. After she graduates from St. Lawrence University, she is interested in studying legal advocacy in the healthcare field. Jenesha also studied abroad in Jordan during the fall semester of her junior year and is active on campus as a Community Assistant to first year students.
During the Fall semester of 2019 I had the opportunity to spend a semester abroad in Amman, Jordan. Being fully immersed in a culture that was different from my own, with its own customs, history and traditions. I learned so much about the language, the food and how people interacted with each other. Since I was fortunate enough to receive a travel grant to go to Malaga, Spain I also wanted to look at how the Spanish culture still had influences of Moorish rule and it was the adventure of a lifetime.
On my first day of the trip I arrived late at night to the city of Malaga just in time to watch the Castles that were once made by the Moors light up. Malaga is a city that is rich in history and culture and even though it is a tourist hub it is still able to retain its authenticity. The next day I went on a tour with a local guide to discover the city of Malaga and its rich history. The tour guide took me across the entire city and gave me a better context of the place I was staying in. I learned that the city of Malaga was one of the oldest cities in Europe. When the Phoenicians settled they named the region Malaka and it only took 10 years for the Muslims to conquer the entire Peninsula. When they designed the city center they used expensive materials like marble for the streets and they designed the square in such a way that foreign enemies would be confused by all of the streets with their different twists and turns. The guide also suggested that it take a day to visit the two castles in the city that served as fortresses against enemy attacks. One thing that stood out about the Moorish influence was definitely the architecture. There are many Cathedrals that were once Mosques in Spain and I learned that after the Christians reconquered Spain they hired Moorish architects to transform them into Cathedrals but the Moors still used a type of design that was influenced by their culture or even kept some elements that were once in Mosques. I was also able to visit the city of Granada not too far away from Malaga. Granada is also rich in Moorish influence and architecture. I went to a Moroccan style restaurant for lunch upon my arrival and I was able to connect their food with my experiences I have been having in Jordan. One thing that I liked the most was the tea that they served which is common among many Arab nations. Although this tea looked and tasted different than what I get served in Jordan it had the basis of a similar influence. This example gives an insight into the way that I viewed the architecture and influence of Moorish culture in Granada. I went on a hop on hop off type of tour because it allowed me to travel around the city and see more sites than I had anticipated. I spent the day going to 10 different sites where I was able to see the Arabic Baths, Alhambra Palace and the magnificent Granada Cathedral.
On my last full day I took the time to visit the Alcazaba fortress and the Gibralfaro Castle. They both had architecture that was influenced by Moors and the views at the top of Gibralfaro were stunning. I also learned that Malaga was the birthplace of Pablo Picasso. I was able to see where he was born, go to one of his museums and go to the church and see the site where he was baptized as a child. Overall during my short stay in Malaga I managed to have an experience that will remain with me for the rest of my life. I plan to go back to Spain and Jordan in the future and spend more time exploring its beauty and its mixture of old and new histories.