Participants in the Hamilton College Academic Year in Spain (HCAYS) recently visited the Spanish region of Galicia as part of their orientation trip. Twenty-six students from Hamilton, Colby, Grinnell, Scripps, Swarthmore, Davidson, Bates, Bryn Mawr and Williams are participating in HCAYS.

Director-in-residence for 2016-17 is Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies Edna Rodríguez-Plate.

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The Hamilton College Academic Year in Spain offers students the opportunity to develop true linguistic proficiency and in-depth knowledge of the many facets of Spanish life.

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Galicia is an autonomous community with a cultural heritage, climate, and geography that are distinct from the rest of Spain. Its economy is based on fishing, farming, and agriculture, and has a rich cultural history, all of which the students were able to experience.

The students started by walking a short distance of the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James), a pilgrimage which more than 200,000 people walk every year. Although today pilgrims walk for many reasons, it was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during the Middle Ages, making Santiago de Compostela the third most important place in Christendom (and resting place of the apostle Saint James).  The group spent two days in Santiago experiencing the historic city's culture. The group also visited Castro de Baroña, a Celtic settlement containing 20 roundhouses that were built on a peninsula that was inhabited from the 1st Century BCE to the 1st Century CE.

The group had the opportunity to taste the local, yet internationally recognized Albariño wine in a rural bodega dating from the 16th century. They also hiked in the nature reserve area of the Cies Islands, an archipelago off the coast of Pontevedra, where they learned about the local ecosystem and efforts to combine tourism with sustainable ecological practices.

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