Name: Ruchin Patel
Type of Project: Education Abroad
- 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 project was a study abroad to Barcelona through a program with ISA. In this program we took classes in Spanish about the art and architecture of the country and its cinema. We also traveled to different parts of Spain to get a feel for all that the country had to offer.
- 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.
When going to Spain, I was immersed in a completely new culture and experience. Much of what I experienced was completely new to me. In this new environment, I found that throughout the world, there are many different outlooks on life and how people understand things. It was neat seeing the vibrant culture all around me that was so different from the one I am used to. This experience gave me a great interest in understanding how different experiences and histories of people can affect a people and their culture.
- 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.
One of the first things that I noticed in Barcelona is that while I was in Spain, many of the signs were in 2 different languages-Spanish and Catalan. The people of Barcelona are part of the autonomous region of Cataluña. They have their own language and a slightly different culture from that of those from the rest of Spain. This was very obvious when I saw yellow ribbons painted everywhere and Catalan flags hanging from windows. These were symbols of their identity. These people were historically part of a different kingdom before the Spanish kingdom annexed them. It is this history that has lead them to have the cultural identity that they maintain to this day.
Another important experience I had was seeing all of the buildings of the city. The buildings were very interesting as there were historical buildings that were still being used for commercial and residential. Others were used for their original purposes, such as the Cathedral. Another portion were used as museum spaces such as the underground Roman ruins. But there were some historical sites that were just part of the city, almost like decorations such as the ruins of the Temple of Augustus. These buildings were next to the buildings of more modern eras juxtaposing the Baroque and Romanesque with the Modern and Contemporary styles. This really highlighted how the rich history of the area was still a part of their culture and daily life still effecting the people living there
Probably one of my favorite things was the food of Spain. Each region of Spain has slightly different cuisine, but you can also find many common dishes. You can also find food from all throughout Europe and even the world. Through the cuisine of the area you can appreciate the influences that have shapes the people and their culture. From the types of paella to the prevalence of Italian and Middle Eastern cuisine, the food really reflects the environment, culture and history of the country.
- 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.
This understanding of how important these different factors influence a people, their culture and their beliefs has helped me understand how better to understand and relate to other peoples. As one of my goals is to work with people from all around the world, it is critical that I be able to understand them and their cultures. By going on this trip, I was able to expose myself to people and cultures unfamiliar to me and learn to understand them. It is this newfound ability to recognize the influences on a culture and its people that will help me in my future as I try to understand people from around the world.