OSU Madrid Global May 2018
From May 7th to June 2nd I studied abroad in Madrid, Spain. While there I lived with a host family and attended class. We learned about the culture and history of Spain with a focus on immigration.
I learned a lot about myself and the world through my STEP signature project. I feel after living in foreign country for a month has made me into a more independent person. I also have become better at adapting to change and the unknown. It is very easy to become blind to the fact that people all around the world live differently than me and this trip opened my eyes to that. I was able to step outside of my comfort zone and experience a new culture and learn how other people live.
I had many experiences during my trip that transformed me and my way of thinking. One of the biggest influences to me was living with a host family. I lived in a home with a native Spanish family with 2 roommates who I had only ever met at orientation. One of my first experiences in Madrid was having name called out on the bus to go meet my new host mother and roommates. My host mother spoke no English at all and I had two new roommates who I did not know, because of this I had to quickly adapt to change. My roommates and I became well aquatinted quickly when our host mother showed us the room we would all be sharing in her apartment.
The relationships I had with my roommates and host family made the trip so much more transformational and influential to me. I have included a picture of me with my host mother, Dulce I was able to learn about the normal Spanish way of life through my host mother. Then I could share my observations about the day with my roommates. Every night we would journal and have a group discussion on some of the similarities and differences we had noticed throughout that day. We noticed the importance of conservation of water and electric when we were told by our host mother to take short showers and turn off the lights. We also noticed the importance of family time by watching our host family interact. We saw this first hand when our host mother went to see her son and sister every and spoke to us about how close she was to her family.
Another influential experience was how we got around the city. We were expected to navigate the city and public transportation system daily to arrive at wherever our class would be for that day. By the end of the trip I was able to effectively use the amazing transportation system in Madrid. This experience made me more independent and improved my planning and navigating skills. This also helped us learn about public safety. One of the most beneficial things we did to learn about the layout of the city and how to use the metro was when we searched the city for Las Meninas. Las Meninas is painting that we saw in The Prado museum in Madrid painted by Diego Velázquez. Throughout the city of Madrid over 80 statues of the girls in the painting were decorated and placed in various areas. It was a temporary art exhibit that decorated the streets of Spain. My roommates and I were able to find over 50 of them. This was a great way for us to learn and see a lot of Madrid quickly. We would get off at random metro stops to find these statues and then navigate our way back to our apartment.
I come from a small town in rural Ohio and sometimes it is very easy to live inside my own little bubble, but I think it’s incredibly important to see how the rest of the world lives. What I learned about the Spanish culture, history, and language will benefit me in my studies as a Spanish minor. This transformation will also benefit me in my personal and professional life with the changes it has helped me make to become a more well-rounded person. After living in a foreign country for a month in a stranger’s home I can say I have become more outgoing, independent, and adaptable.
I chose this program specifically for the home stay that it offered because I wanted to be immersed in the culture. I think my experience on this trip went above and beyond my expectations. I learned something new every day about Spanish culture and myself.