Week One!

Finally, I made it to Granada, the first stop on my study abroad program.  I’ll be abroad until November and will be spending time in Spain, Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Turkey, and the Netherlands.  I’ll be spending most of my time meeting with feminists from different organizations throughout Europe and attending seminars with the students in my group.  The program focuses on queer theory, feminist theory, and feminist methodologies.  I’ll also be doing an independent research project on pro-choice activism, so I’ll be able to meet with many different people involved in the European reproductive justice movement.

So far, I have pretty mixed feelings about my experiences in Granada, mostly related to the NOISE program.  My entire group is participating in a two-week long program for people interested in gender studies in which we study European feminist history and how that relates to the future of feminism.  I’m so glad that we are able to meet people from all across Europe and learn about their cultures and unique perspective on feminist issues.  However, I am really dissatisfied with the structure of the program.  We spend three hours each morning attending lectures by European feminist professors.  Having gone to Simon’s Rock for two years, I am definitely not used to sitting in lecture.  Here, there is a hierarchy that places the teacher (very far) above the students.  Although the teachers have very valuable things to say, I don’t think their opinions should be valued solely because of their positions.  After this session, we have a three-hour break for lunch, naps, etc.  This is a great way to unwind and I definitely appreciate nap time!  Then we have another three-hour session of discussion-based activities.  Some of my favorite discussions were:

1) We started by talking about the dichotomy of public vs. private spaces.  I felt that this model was very utopian so I brought up the point that there is no such thing as private space.  Spaces that should be private include the body, the mind, the family, etc.  Unfortunately, all of these spaces are being influenced and controlled by institutions, social forces, etc.  For example, the body should be a private space.  However, there are many restrictions on reproductive rights, medical treatments, and self-expression that control how a person interacts with their body.  Therefore, we need to understand the issue of space along a continuum between public and private and realize the complex, cyclic relationship between the two.

2) Following this discussion, we started talking about the role of state involvement in the lives of the people residing in a given state.  We discussed how a state welfare system should operate and compared that utopian model to that of the United States and countries in Europe.  If you want to learn more about my thoughts on that, click here.

3) We had a great discussion about the relationship between feminism and psychoanalysis.  Many students in my group were not familiar with psychoanalytic theory because their teachers had told them that the theories were not applicable.  I was surprised that teachers would give their students such horrible advice; I was even more surprised that the students would listen.  Ultimately, we ended up discussing the elitist characteristics of psychoanalysis.  If we are going to refer to psychoanalysis as elitist, I feel that claim also applies to feminism and all of academia.

Overall, the discussions in my tutor group have been so interesting.  Everyone gets involved in the discussion and we end up learning so much about theory, other cultures, and each other.

I have already met some incredible people on this program and really enjoy spending time with them.  We haven’t been able to explore the city very much but we are having fun regardless.  The food here is absolutely amazing and I can’t get enough sangria; I am also slightly addicted to potato omeletes and yogurt gelato 🙂  Everyone is absolutely beautiful here, in the NOISE program and Granada in general.  We are going out every night and definitely taking advantage of every opportunity.  The people on my program are absolutely amazing and I’m really looking forward to getting to know them all over the next three months.

Well, there is one more week left in Spain before we head to Krakow and I can’t wait to see what will happen next 🙂

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