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It is hard to put into words the many changes I have gone through since the start of my semester in Madrid. I do feel that leaving the Amherst “bubble” has been good for my own personal growth. I was constantly challenged to adapt and step outside of my comfort zone. After two years at Amherst, I am guilty of falling into a predictable routine. The semester in Madrid gave me a chance to shake things up and live more …

Public Parks in Madrid

Parks provide a haven for wildlife and allow people to connect with nature. They perform an essential role in both our ecosystems and our communities. During my semester in Spain I sought to expand my perspective on public parks in the United States through a comparison between parks in Spain and parks in the United States. My hope was that experiences abroad would inform my understanding of the creation, use, and management of parks. This coming fall, I will be …

Gayborhoods of Madrid

Spain is well-known for being one of the most accepting countries for LGBT+ people. In fact, Madrid hosted World Pride in 2017. As an openly gay man, choosing an accepting study abroad location was a key deciding factor in my choice of locations. Since arriving in Madrid in early January, I have found several occasions to visit the major gayborhood of Madrid. The neighborhood or barrio, is located a short fifteen-minute walk from the city center and is located just …

Expectations and First Impressions

I would like to say that I arrived in Spain without fully-formed expectations, but that would not be entirely honest. Before arriving in Madrid I spent hours imagining what it would be like to walk down picturesque streets (such as the ones pictured below) and to eat traditional Spanish dishes like croquetas and paella. Once I decided to spend a semester in Spain, I began to feel a hunger: the need to make a checklist of “must-have” experiences that if …

My Identities Abroad

Now that my time is ending in Spain, I thought I would share some of my thoughts about my various identities and traveling abroad in Spain and other countries in Europe. I will discuss my black, American, and New York City identities in hope to show how each one shifts my power and privilege in different contexts. Let’s start with my black identity. I must admit that it was difficult to be black in Europe. I remember the first week …

Possessing Language

“No way, I can’t go to the store by myself! My Spanish is not that good…no one will understand me! Please come with me!” I blurted this out to my friend Zaq in my hotel room before heading out to get some more toothpaste. He gave me a rosy smile and said “No, I know you can do it.” I shook my head. I put on my shoes. I made my way towards the door after sucking my teeth. I …

A Beautiful Strange Place

Granada is beautiful, yet it is a very strange place to me. I adore the sun that glows bright on Granada, the tall vibrant green trees, and the sandy orange-colored rooftops. Every day has felt like summer and I enjoy every minute of each day. However, as beautiful as Granada is I cannot shake how peculiar the city, people, and customs are to me. There is so much I don’t understand and I realize that this place is more than …

What it is Like to Return

Written by Ruth Manzanares ’18 The date is January 4th, 2017. It’s 4 in the morning and I can’t sleep. I don’t know if it’s from nervousness, excitement, or a combination of the two. All I know is that I’m about to embark on the journey of my life. In just a few hours I will be on a plane to Spain, a longtime dream of mine. I could not tell you when this dream began only that it was …