Student Adventures Around The World

Daniel — Medieval Pilgrimage

Map of Pilgrimage

Daniel is among a group of SMU students who are traveling throughout Europe for class credit March 9-18, 2007. The Medieval Pilgrimage, sponsored by the University Honors Program, takes students through France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain to experience the actual Pilgrimage of the Middle Ages. The course fulfills one of the Cultural Formations requirements and is team-taught by Honors professors from English, History, Art History, Medieval Studies, and Music departments.

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March 9, 2007

As I perform my usual morning rituals today (brushing my teeth, taking a shower, etc.), I start to contemplate the rituals I am about to partake in for the next 10 days. Along with 45+ students from SMU, I will be spending my spring break traveling to Europe to get a taste of the ever-popular pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

Before I go into too much detail about the trip itself, I’d like to start by answering the basic questions: who, what, where, why, and when?

Who: Myself, other students signed up for this course (3 Honor CF credits), some SMU alumni, and faculty members.
What: A compact trip focused on getting a quick snapshot of the pilgrimage experience.
Where: The trip begins when we leave Dallas, TX and fly to Paris, France. From there, we will be visiting a variety of important sites to pilgrims who have walked these routes for ages. After spending a few days in France, we will travel by auto-bus down to Spain until we reach Santiago de Compostela. This is the “final destination” and the focal point of the trip. Santiago de Compostela is perhaps the third most popular pilgrimage site: right behind Jerusalem and Rome.
Why: Why not? People used to take pilgrimages for a variety of reasons. For many, a pilgrimage was necessary to purify oneself, for others, armed pilgrimage or crusade, was your duty. For me, this trip fulfills multiple roles: I am receiving course credit and it’s part of my Richter fellowship.
When: The next 10 days (Spring Break).

In preparing myself for this trip, I decided to also enroll in the separate Pilgrimage course that has been taught for many years. This course is lecture and discussion based taught by five faculty members. I highly recommend this class - it requires a lot of effort, but it really serves as a good preparation for the actual trip.

I have set three goals for myself on this pilgrimage:

  1. Gather data for my Richter fellowship research
  2. Gain a better understanding of el Camino de Santiago de Compostela
  3. Begin preparations for future pilgrimage trip

I hope that this trip is not only academically enriching, but also a good chance for me to scout out and prepare for one of my long-term goals to walk the Way to Santiago de Compostela.