Studying Abroad (Story 1)
When I was 20 years old I went on a journey that changed my life forever. I had no idea what I was signed up for, but a friend of mine convinced me to register to study abroad in Barcelona. My parents took me to Japan when I was 7 weeks old (don’t really remember much) and I had been to Mexico for spring break earlier that year, but going to Barcelona was my first, real experience abroad. My first night there was absolutely insane, I instantly made 5 new best friends who were my random roommates, partied, stayed up all night long, and stumbled to McDonald’s when they opened up during the wee hours of the morning. This is how I started my my summer abroad - at McDonald’s. As I began to learn about Barcelona, the culture, and the food, I realized, for the first time in my life, I HATED the food. I have always been a foodie, but in Spain they eat lots and lots of jamón - it’s pig, or better known as ham, that hangs from most ceilings of restaurants, markets, and bars in Spain. It was so disgusting, I did not look at it and think, “Oh, look my dinner.” I was genuinely grossed out. But to make matters even worse, one day my roommates and I decided it would be a good idea to go to go to a bull fight. Being the naive American that I was, I again didn’t really know what I signed up for. My roommates and I cried during the entire “show” of seeing this poor animal get murdered in front of our faces. I heard the bulls (yes, I sat and watched more than 1 bull get murdered, which my vegan brain thinks is crazy now) cry and scream in agony. I heard them suffer and I didn't necessarily realize right away what had happened (even though my roommates and I ordered salads for dinner after the bull fight). Looking back now, I believe seeing the bulls die in front of my face is something I will never forget. Maybe if more people saw animals die in front of their face they wouldn’t want to eat them. My time in Spain also made me recognize that even though I had been told my whole life, America is the best, I realized that there was so much MORE to the world then just America. This is why I hope to see and travel the whole world. There is so much to learn, so much to know, and so much to gain from experiencing new people and places. When I returned from Spain, that is when I went through what is commonly known as culture shock. Suddenly, everything that I began to know as true, didn't seem so true anymore. This is why I believe studying abroad in Spain was the first of many experiences that opened my mind to new things, especially veganism.
I hope by sharing this story with you, you learn something about me, who I am, and why I am a vegan today. If you're feeling brave or vulnerable, or just want to make a new friend, please leave a comment below, sharing something about yourself, so I can get to know you too. (Photo above is of my roommates and I in Barcelona, having the time of our lives)