Arts and Humanities, College of Arts and Humanities, Spanish, Study Abroad, Uncategorized, World languages

CWU’s Life-Changing Experience: Hiking El Camino de Santiago

By Dean Stacey Robertson

Quick: Name a continent that has not been explored by students from the Central Washington University College of Arts and Humanities?

The list of college faculty-led, study-abroad trips continues to grow each year as Central Washington University strives to provide students with even more opportunities to expand their horizons, enrich their lives, and further prepare them for careers characterized by lifelong learning.

To date, College of Arts and Humanities (CAH) students have studied Roman art it Italy, communications in Spain, religious influences in Cambodia, theatre productions in Japan, architecture in France, folklore in Mexico, and creative writing in Ireland.


.Next summer, CAH students, faculty, and alumni are all invited to join Associate Professor of Spanish Dr. Eric Mayer and French Program Coordinator Dr. Michael Johnson for a 16-day, 190-mile hike along Spain’s historic Camino de Santiago or Way of St. James, Spain’s patron saint. Reportedly, approximately 200,000 hiked the world famous Camino de Santiago in 2014.

Mayer sees the hike of this beautiful ninth-century pilgrimage route as being both a “physical challenge” and a “life-changing experience” for students. The shortest hiking day will be 4.8 miles (including a visit to Templar Castle) and the longest will be 18.1 miles from Palais del Rei to Arzúa.

Shortly after arriving in Madrid, the CWU College of Arts and Humanities hike will begin in León and end at Santiago de Compostela (Spain’s Galicia region) and its renowned cathedral, reportedly the final resting spot for St. James (Santiago in Spanish). Along each step of the 16-day route, students will have their specialized Camino “passport” stamped, an eternal testament to their commitment to the pilgrimage route.

This past summer Mayer traversed the Camino de Santiago for the second time. The professor avoided repeating the mistake of trying to do too much, too soon. In 1998, Mayer and his wife, Jill, attempted to walk 30 miles on the first day of the Camino.


“The program appeals to me on different levels both physical and intellectual, but it holds special interest for me as a professor of Spanish language and culture,” said Mayer, reflecting on his personal philosophy behind offering the hike to students, faculty, and alums. “We will be immersed in the history and the culture of Spain. It will be an interactive experience, and we will be forced to use our Spanish.”

One Month of Spanish Immersion in León

Besides the more than two-week hike, averaging about 12 miles per day, students who have completed second-year Spanish or more will be offered an opportunity to complement the Camino de Santiago physical/cultural experience with a follow-up full-month of intensive language studies at the University of León.

One of the features of the study at León is the opportunity to practice Castilian Spanish, particularly the use of the vosotros-form of address, exclusively used on the Iberian Peninsula.

Students, faculty and alumni have the flexibility of only hiking the Camino de Santiago and/or studying intensive Spanish at the University of León. The excursion departs Seattle for Madrid next June 12 and returns from Spain’s capital to the Emerald City on July 6. Included in the tour is a visit to Madrid’s Prado Museum and the Royal Palace.

For more information about next summer’s hike of the Camino de Santiago and/or Spanish immersion study at the University of León, please visit:



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