Amanda Ruiz-Diaz: Miami as Text 2023

Encounter As Text

Photograph by Amanda Ruiz-Diaz, 2016

“Transcending Experience” by Amanda Ruiz-Diaz of FIU at Modesto A. Maidique Campus, January 26th, 2023

My grandparents have ultimately motivated my passion for traveling.

As the eldest grandchild, I was spoiled rotten. My grandparents took me on solo trips almost every year. I shared my first plane ride with them, I experienced the mountains for the first time with them, and they even took me on my first cruise. Many other family vacations I’ve experienced have been filled with chaos and frivolous adventures, and while they have been fun, my quiet, introverted self loved the peaceful getaways my grandparents provided me.

Since their days as a young couple, my grandparents traveled all over the US. As they traveled the states, they visited numerous national parks, engaged in a copious amount of antique shopping, and took pleasure in learning about the history of the country. Despite being immigrants, exploring the states made them feel connected to the land. I learned how to travel just like them. Whenever I travel, I seek out connections to the places I visit. I want to learn about their regular daily life, their unique traditions, learn about their architecture, and the stories they pass down to their children.

The study abroad program was the main reason I joined the Honors College at FIU, as never in my life have I been granted such an amazing opportunity. I would not only get to travel to Europe for the first time, but I would get to do it the right way. It did not matter much to me which program I chose since I had never traveled out of the country (besides some cruises in the Caribbean). Spain intrigued me because that is where my family originated from, but I wanted to save that trip so that I could one day take my grandmother to her ancestral homeland. The Italy program also called to me as I am deeply in love with their food and architecture. However, once I learned all that the France abroad program had to offer, I was sold.

Out of all the programs, France is the one I least expected to choose since I know so little of France, and all I have ever heard from friends and family was negative stereotypes, but I am so happy I chose it. I am thrilled to learn all about France from a French professor. I am excited to go in-depth and ready to have a transcending experience that will change my life forever. I understand that this experience is not just a vacation but one that will require discipline and higher thinking, which is what makes this opportunity so unique. I will be able to take something away from this experience that will change the way I view the world. I am also prepared to step outside my boundaries and get accustomed to international traveling as I plan to travel to other countries a lot more in the future. I cannot wait to share all my new knowledge about France and Europe with my family so I can encourage them to step out of their comfort zones and join me!

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