A Month in Madrid

 

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

My STEP signature project was participating in OSU’s Global May Madrid program. We went to many different areas of Spain and learned about the history of Spain, focusing on the topic of immigration.

  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.

Before I went to Spain I really had a narrow view of how immigration in the world works. I’ve grown up in a pretty conservative environment where I’ve heard how immigration seems to have a negative impact upon our world. The positives and negatives of immigration were presented in many different examples throughout my studies in Spain. Now my viewpoint on this topic of controversy is mostly positive thanks to the explorations of Spain’s diverse neighborhoods.

I also thought coming into this experience that it would be easy to make a lot of friends. But that was one part of the trip I struggled the most with. I never felt like I truly found anyone that had similar interests. This definitely inhibited me for a portion of the project until I realized that it did not matter if I came out of this experience with five new best friends. It is far more important to be able to internalize and process personal emotions in order to come out a changed person afterwards.

  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.

Learning in Spain took place in and out of the classroom setting, and it was mostly the out of classroom experiences that impacted me the most. Immigration was never really a topic of much interest to me before my travels. The group visit to the neighborhood of Lavapiés was a moment that led to the shift in my standing on immigration. This neighborhood was full of every ethnicity possible. The street would have an African market, followed by an Indian restaurant that would be next to a Chinese goods store. The diversity in the neighborhood was incredible. There were some points of conflict in between these groups, but there’s an overwhelming commonality between them in that they all want to make a better life for their families. Until this visit I had never seen the intermesh of cultures seem to work so seamlessly. It was definitely very cool to see and proves that the intermesh of culture due to immigration can be very successful.

The topic of family was something that was touched on pretty heavily while talking about immigration as well. The immigrants to Madrid were all very willing to do anything to make money to contribute not only to their family in Madrid if they had any, but as well as the family back in places like Latin America. People would attempt to wash cars in heavy traffic areas to make some change, as well as sell indigenous crafts on the side of the road. This may not seem worthwhile and profitable to most, but it really gave me a better understanding of why all these people travel to Madrid in order to secure a better lifestyle.

The moment on this trip where I realized that self-internalization was vital came fairly early into the trip. The group was taking a weekend trip to Toledo. The getaway from the heavily trafficked and lively city to this small city on top of a hill was a very unique change. It also didn’t hurt that this little city provided the most magnificent views over Spain. Our dorm offered a great layout of the overall city and it was just one house piled onto the next. Looking upon this city and thinking of all the people that contributed to this beauty and how it made me feel at peace was definitely a highlight to the trip. I could’ve locked my eyes on that view for eternity.

 

  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?  Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.

While studying abroad was not directly related to my major, I still feel as though I learned a lot about myself personally. Having a changed view on how immigration impacts society has already changed how I approach many daily situations. I spent the rest of my summer working in an area of low-income families in similar situations, so it was way easier for me to empathize with their situations. Going to Spain and having time to reflect on the beauty of the world was very special. I now find myself more deliberately looking at the world finding joy and beauty out of the small things. Being immersed into the Spanish culture for a month was a pleasure, and it has definitely made me think closely about trying to figure out more ways to travel in the near future.

I also kept up with a blog while I was abroad: maymadrid.blogspot.com

 

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Here I am in Toledo, Spain