All my life I felt misunderstood and out of place because of my differences from the rest of the community. For example, I was peculiar, awkward, unattached, unrelatable and too much of a goody-two-shoes. Both teachers and students viewed me as a product of the rough environment I resided. I was too urban to ever be “one of them.” Moreover, in the inner-city neighborhood where I grew up, I was considered a disgrace. I was too “white” and “proper,” consequently, I became self-conscience of my existence and aware of my differences. Nevertheless, I pressed on and begin embracing my individuality. Instead of trying to become like everyone else, I created my own language that only I understood.
Upon arriving in Valencia, Spain I had to stop at an airport in Amsterdam, the Netherlands before taking a plane from Amsterdam and flying into Valencia, Spain. Once I arrived in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the same feeling of being an outcast had hit me again because I was the only person from America who spoke English. Besides failing to understand almost everyone, I received my visa and access to the gate.
Finally, after flying for what seemed to be 100,000 hours we landed in Valencia, Spain. I was ready to take on the world until I noticed the brand-new luggage my grandma had given to me as a going-away gift. The luggage was covered in dirt marks, scuffs, and one of the travel locks for my suitcase was gone. Oh no, is what I immediately thought, this was going to be the worst trip, ever, was the follow-up! I should probably get a ticket back home to Atlanta, Georgia, I decided.
Following the mental pendulum of should I go back home or remain in Valencia, Spain I decided to deal with the dirty luggage. If I made it this far from the dangerous depths of my community, why give up now? I spotted an older man holding a white loose-leaf paper with my name on it and assumed he was there to provide transportation to my host family’s residence. The drive was discouraging because he barely understood me, and I struggled to understand him. Finally, we had a connection when I sneezed and he responded, “Salut!”
I could tell he along with my house mother, when I met her, was frustrated with my lack of understanding. Ironically, I saw myself in them because as aforementioned, I have been misunderstood the majority of my life. I learned that the people of Valencia do not only speak Spanish but, they also have their lingo called the “Valenciano” language. By way of illustration, they take basic Spanish words and add a special Valencian ingredient to make it their own. Though many people like myself have a difficult time understanding the language, I appreciate it and look forward to tasting the words during my time here in Valencia.
I have always loved a challenge; hence I am willing to go through the process of learning not only Spanish but, the Valenciano language. Though we are different in some ways, we’re very alike in others, for example, being misunderstood. As a Mass Communication major and a Communication Studies minor, learning unique, effective ways to communicate are essential to my future goals and ambitions in the multimedia field. It’s the sole reason why I am enrolled in this study abroad program with ieiMedia.
I encourage everyone who may find themselves lost in translation to find new ways of understanding. Rather it is by poetry, music, interviews, video, or more, just do it. It’s easy to give up and doubt when things are a bit difficult, like when I was outcasted most of my life, or when my luggage was temporarily damaged. The joy of every journey we embark upon is to have a positive attitude on each level we encounter.
As one of the only African American students and the only student from a Historically Black College and University enrolled in this program, it seems fitting to feel self-conscience about my existence. Instead, I feel more powerful and grateful to represent a small group of minorities. I get to do something that not many people from my old community get to do which is translate the impossible to possible. I am a first-generation college student and I come from a low-income neighborhood. Henceforth, studying abroad in Valencia, Spain is one of the many items on the “Impossible” list where I am from. Thus, to be one of the only persons in my family/community to study abroad is something worth translating to those with a similar upbringing as me.
There are several crossroads I encountered on this journey to Valencia, Spain.
1. Not having enough funds to afford the study abroad program.
2. Having to change my study abroad program at seemingly the last minute. (I was initially accepted into the Bologna, Italy program under ieiMedia. However, it had to be cancelled due to low enrollment).
3. Failing to understand almost everyone I encountered at the airports in Amsterdam and Valencia.
4. Dirty luggage.
5. No service and WiFi. (I’m kidding… Kind of).
However, like the issue I had with being outcasted when I was younger, I continued to press on. I highlight the positives in every crossroad I meet during this journey. Furthermore, the Valencia Project allows me to network and communicate with other students who share the same interest as I do. We are different in some areas but alike in others because we all want to succeed. Conversely, we are finding a different way of doing it. I am still lost in translation but with the help of this program, I will find a new way to tell a story that’s never been told.