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AUK Students Discover the Wonders of Andalusia

The Department of Arabic and Foreign Languages at AUK organized a trip to Spain to discover the wonders of Andalusia.

On the night of 28 March, 20 AUK students and faculty, along with some family members, departed Kuwait heading to their first stop, Granada. "We found Granada in a festive spirit, as our arrival there coincided with Good Friday and the beginning of the Easter weekend. Colorful processions filled the streets," said Dr. Raymond Farrin, Chair of the Department of Arabic and Foreign Languages at AUK and the trip chaperon.

The highlight of the Granada stay was the visit to the Palace of Alhambra (Qasr Al-Hamra'). A notable feature of Alhambra is plentiful water, such that its fountains are always supplied by means of aqueducts and pipes. According to Dr. Farrin, the day of the tour was rainy and the group was soaked. "But the rain did not dampen our spirits, and we forgot it as we became increasingly amazed at the wonders of this monument built by the Arabs many centuries ago," said Dr. Farrin.

The group's next stop was Cordoba, former capital of Al-Andalus, site of the Great Mosque (now converted into a cathedral), and scene of the famous, high-drama love affair between Princess Wallada and the poet Ibn Zaydun. As the hotel was conveniently located right next to the Great Mosque, the group enjoyed numerous strolls in the old city. They also spent an afternoon visiting the ruins of Madinat Al-Zahra' and got invited for lunch by a Muslim family at their farm "that seemed more like a little paradise". An interesting discussion followed about the state of Muslims today in Christian Spain. "Memorable as well was a lively and colorful Flamenco performance witnessed one night in Cordoba," said Dr. Farrin.

From Cordoba, the group also took a day-trip to Seville, former home of the poet king Al-Mu'tamid ibn 'Abbad, where they toured the palace and the large cathedral, and then took the opportunity to see more of the city by way of horse-drawn carriage. "Particularly beautiful was Seville's park, which might remind one of an orange grove," said Dr. Farrin.

On the last day in Spain, the group rode the bus north to Toledo, once a center for translation of Arabic books into Latin. Many of the group then chose to spend the afternoon and evening in Madrid. In that city, some of the group members visited the Santiago Bernabeu and even descended to the field where the Real Madrid players sit during matches. The tour ended at the press room and led into the team's store. There, and also in the fashionable shops of Madrid, and likewise elsewhere during the visit, shopping opportunities were not missed by the group; "our suitcases came back fully packed," said Dr. Farrin.

On Friday morning, April 5, it was time to return to Kuwait. The group left Madrid, excited and happy to be seeing family and friends again but sad to be leaving Spain, and filled with memories of a unique educational experience.

Images from the Trip

Released by the Office of Public Affairs on the 19th May 2013

Photo Courtesy of Abdullah Al-Shaheen

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