In honor of the upcoming event, International Night, here on campus, I would like to explore the possibilities that the cultural event could have in store for us. This year's theme is Europe, which is a large category, but here are some highlights of popular and favorite cultural foods, dances, and more that originate from the entire continent.
Starting in the far West of Europe in the Iberian Peninsula, when one thinks of Spain, usually flamenco comes to mind. It originated in the South of Spain in what is known as Andalucía, and now the staple music and dance of Flamenco can be found all across the country. It began as a dance among various minority cultures of the region, such as the Romani or the Moors and Jews that inhabited the region. Through time Flamenco flourished into the popular genre we know today. Don't know the music or the dance of Flamenco? Be sure to search it and watch videos to see what it is all about!
No, we are not talking about a stomach disease but instead about what goes inside the stomach! That means great food and drink. Trying to narrow down the choices of fantastic foods from Germany is like trying to nail gelatin to a tree: pretty much impossible. From schnitzel to sauerkraut and bratwurst, Germany offers variety to please those with all different preferences! Germany is also famous for a certain beverage, but just make sure to drink it responsibly!
Honorable mention: Krampus
While not based solely in Germany (Austria can claim him too), Krampus has now become a famous and at times satirical Christmas icon all over Western cultures, and he hit mainstream media with an American adaptation of the character. While creepy in appearance, his history and lore are fascinating, even if it does keep some up late at night! (Don't know what he looks like? I won't spoil the surprise, look him up for yourself!)
Italy- Leaning Tower of Pisa
When one thinks of Italy, the most stereotypical response is pizza. However, from personal experience in Italy, I was truly astounded by the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The slant of the tower is truly unique, and being able to go inside is a sight to be seen. Even going up the stairs you can feel the changes as you circle around. The stairs change from wide to narrow on the way up, and looking out the tower provides a lovely view of Pisa (and Tuscany in general if you look hard enough.) While their pizza is unforgettable, Pisa is a must-visit, and the tower is an absolute must when traveling to Tuscany.
Credit: My personal photo album
Romania- Bran Castle (AKA Dracula's Castle)
Regardless of your belief in vampires, Bran Castle is still quite a culturally rich castle within Romania. However, the story of Bran Castle and Vlad the Impaler (and his lore) are not the exact same story. During Vlad's campaigns in his reign, he did ally and pass through Bran, but Vlad and Bran Castle are now connected through the story by Bram Stoker. Inside the castle you will find all sorts of rooms and sights to see, even some secret passageways built in the castle. Like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, this castle is a must-see during a trip to Romania.
Credit: http://www.bran-castle.com for photos and amazing information. Be sure to check out the site!
Rounding out the cultural highlights is the home of modern democracy and Western philosophy, none other than Athens! Within the ancient city of Athens one can find the Parthenon, one of the most famous symbols of this city! Dedicated to the goddess Athena, on the walls of this structure chronicle many of the stories in Greek Mythology. Fantastical stories and the home of democracy? What more could someone need?! This site is a must-see for any traveler to Greece in order to see ancient history in person and remember that much of the world's political philosophies grew out of this city.
See any that I missed? Is there a must-try food that we should include? Is there any location in Europe that deserves a spot on the list? Comment below and be sure to let us know!