2013 Fall External Programs Kira Billman Spain

Diversity and Stability Across the Atlantic

There seems to be an abundance of elderly people here. Which is odd, because University of Alicante boasts an enrollment of more than 25,000 students with a massive influx of non matriculated students from abroad, like myself. Yet the small city of Alicante feels far from a college town. On the other hand it feels like it’s over flowing with elderly and children.

Old women meet on park benches that youth manage to fill with two bodies and pop six of their round, floral booties on it. They lean in and around each other gossiping with their wrists folded over and mouths agape, teenagers giggling over the new boy.

But if you walk to El Barrio on a weekend night you find the “Old Quarter” transformed into a young one, an entire neighborhood of parties. The streets are packed with college kids drifting in and out of the clubs, throwing up in corners, and gathering phone numbers of new friends.

Stroll down the central street late in the evening (8:00 or 9:00), past the miniature play structures and small children run under your feet. Strollers are lifted on and off of the bus carrying babies only a couple of months or weeks old.

I think the diversity of age comes from the stability of the cities. People don’t want to move away from their parents or their home. They want to live where they’re born, if there’s a University close by that offers what they want to study, they hope to get into it.

When they graduate they might move out of their parents house and find one of their own close by with some friends. Thus they work on friendships for years so that by the time children are born they enter into a circle of close friends and families. When their parents want to hang out for an afternoon on the town, the children tag along to play with their friends. Here children become a part of adult life, instead of adult life halting to support children.

The view from the top of Castell de Guadalest. Picture courtesy of Benedetta Torsi, thanks!

This weekend we went to Guadalest. Guadalest is an ancient town and castle built by the Moors over 1,300 years ago. It winds up the top of a peak, which makes for spectacular views and ease of defense. Indeed there is only one way into the castle, a thin tunnel about 15ft long. Today the town looks much the same as it did when it was built, white walls and tile streets. It also over looks the a reservoir with water so blue I took our guide seriously when he joked that they hire people to paint the bottom blue. A friend’s sister got married there and they ended up cropping out the water in the background, because it was so blue it looked Photoshopped.

After Guadalest, we went to the beach by the town of Calpe. While the Mediterranean is undeniable beautiful and warm I have found it so salty it stings my eyes, nose, and throat. Photo courtesy of a friend Benedetta Torsi, thanks!

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