Annika Castellanos: Miami as Text 2023

Photograph taken on June 30, 2022, at Villa de Leyva by David Garcia/CC by 4.0

Annika Castellanos is a 19 year old student majoring in International Business at Florida International University. She plays on the Division 1 Beach Volleyball Team at FIU. Father from Colombia and Mother from Venezuela. Annika was born and raised in South Florida. She is excited to graduate from the honors college and achieve her dreams in life!


“Why Spain?”

By Annika Castellanos of FIU at Deering Estate, January 27, 2023

Photograph taken on January 27, 2023, at the Deering Estate by Sofia Meyer/CC by 4.0

Why Spain? Studying abroad has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. My mom shared her amazing memories from studying abroad in college and I really wanted to experience that as well. With my dad being Colombian and my mom Venezuelan, the hispanic culture has always been a huge component of my life. I am very passionate about learning the histories of our cultures and how they have mixed throughout time. I have never been to Europe and I am slightly nervous to travel on my own. However, my excitement and motivation are overtaking this feeling as I get more comfortable with the class. It is very comforting how well the class students get along. Everyone seems very friendly and welcoming. The inclusivity and unity amongst the class promotes a very healthy and conducive learning environment. 

My family has distant relatives in Spain and I am looking forward to visiting them. Not only am I excited to visit them, but I am looking forward to seeing new places and learning new things about the Spanish culture. I am a huge fan of Spanish food and music. Paellas are a traditional Spanish dish that is extremely delicious. I can not wait to try paellas and many more authentic dishes while traveling across Spain. Furthermore, Spanish music and dance is absolutely beautiful. One of my favorite Spanish singers called C. Tangana composes and performs a modern twist on traditional flamenco music. In fact, my cousin took many flamenco dance lessons growing up. She shared the basic moves with me. I really hope we are able to see traditional flamenco dancers perform live when we visit Spain. 

I picture Spain to be a peaceful and elegant wonderland. I know it sounds cheesy and cliche but it seems a like a beautiful country filled with so much culture and history. Although the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Spain is the traditional architecture and majestic scenery, I am very excited to witness the modern technology and economy taking place in Spain today. My cousin recently travelled to Spain and was mesmerized by the incredible public transportation systems available in Europe. Although the countries in Europe are smaller in size and can develop train rail roads more easily, I believe it is something the United States could invest in. 

I am expecting this once in a life time program to be challenging yet very fun. The fact that we are traveling with a group of peers my age experiencing the same things for the first time will be unique and not replicable. I expect this program to help me learn much more about history not only in Spain but Spanish influence throughout the americas. We have only had two classes with Professor Bailly and I already feel that I have learned so much. Sometimes I feel that the American education system overlooks various moments in history. Thus, I am very pleased to have a knowledgeable professor that will help guide us in Miami and Spain.

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