I traveled to Madrid through the Global May program in order to take a class on Spanish culture and to explore Spain. Our group visited Bilbao, Segovia, Santander, and Toledo while spending most of our time in Madrid. Spending a month in Spain greatly improved my ability to speak Spanish and opened my eyes to new foods, cities, and cultures.
Traveling abroad for the first time allowed me to grasp how different life is outside of the United States. I was immersed into a new culture, with a different language, style of dress, and pace to everyday life. I realized how much more there is to see in the world than just the United States. Immersing myself in the food, culture, and tradition of Spain greatly opened my mind to new ideas and caused me to question our way of life in the United States.
I have always believed the best way to grow as a person is by stepping out of one's comfort zone and trying new things. Other Ohio State students should go challenge themselves to get out of their comfort zones and go abroad because the experiences, memories, and knowledge you acquire in a foreign setting are things you cannot teach in the classroom. Journeying through Spain has made me feel more independent and confident in my ability to take on any challenges that may come my way. Learning how to thrive in a foreign culture allowed me to develop crucial life skills that are applicable both now and in the future. I am extremely grateful to both Ohio State and the Office of Diversity of Inclusion for this amazing opportunity, as it has truly helped me to realize how big the world is and inspired a passion in me to go out and see it.
As a result of my travels, I now want to take some time each year to visit a new country and immerse myself in their food, culture, and tradition. If you are reading this and are on the fence about traveling abroad, please go for it. I was nervous being to be so far away from my family and friends, but opportunities to travel abroad do not come up often in a lifetime. Seeing another country made me a more globalized, open-minded citizen. I can genuinely say my trip abroad was one of the best experiences of my life, and I cannot wait until the next time I get to travel again.
Written by undergraduate student Matthew Steffan