These past few months I have been going to many different places and experiencing the culture of Spain in all its glory. However, this week’s blog is going to be a little different from the rest of my weeks in Spain. This past week I had to do a presentation on what I learned from my time here in Spain for my Spanish Culture and History class. There were many different places and pictures I wanted to share, but my professor asked us to do it through our own narrative. It was difficult for me to find what my “narrative” had been in Spain, and as many of my classmates presented it made me even more nervous since I felt I had no angle. A lot of my classmates had traveled plenty of times to Europe and had studied abroad before. It made me feel a little intimidated since everything about Spain had impressed me, my lens of how I viewed everything was novice.
However, as I began to reflect, I realized that I most definitely was overlooking my own identity. Many of my classmates had been used to hearing from the perspective of someone whose family had traveled abroad before plenty of times. Many of them even mentioned that their parents had studied abroad in college so it inspired them to do so as well. It was then that it clicked for me and I knew that I could explain to my peers my journey as a first generation student. Additionally, I thought it important to also mention my identity as a person of Mexican descent living in Spain. Combining both of those experiences, I was able to create a presentation I was very proud of. During my presentation I was able to talk about the differences between Mexico and Spain, and some of the similarities they both shared. I also mentioned that I was the first in my family to study abroad and how I had no one to ask for help or questions within my household, yet it made my journey that much more enriching since I learned a lot along the way. Some of the last things I talked about were the findings my family and I discovered about my grandmother before she passed. Through her many stories, we gathered that her father immigrated from Spain and my great great grandfather has converted from Judaism to Catholicism. Through the date of her birth I was able to trace back to around the time my great grandfather had immigrated to Spain. From what I had learned in class, I was able to identify and justify some of the possible reasons why historically he had immigrated to Spain. My father was able to take an DNA ancestry test and found that we did have jewish descendants so my grandmother’s story aligned with the results.
At the end of my presentation, some of my peers came up to me to comment that they had enjoyed listening to my story. I felt really proud, however it still saddened me that there was a lack of first generation students in the classroom. It also reminded me why I was really grateful for scholarships like the Fund for Education Abroad that allowed me to experience some of the best months of my life. As my time here is coming to an end, it makes me think about how much I want to help recruit other people like me to study abroad. I hope that when I go back home, I’m able to convince someone like me abroad. Traveling is one of the biggest ways to grow as a person and everyone deserves that opportunity without financial hurdles.