Daniela Alvarez-Sierra: Miami as Text 2023

Photograph by Isabella Ojeda // CC by 4.0

Daniela Alvarez-Sierra is a second-year student at Florida International University currently majoring in Finance on a pre-law track. Daniela was born in Lansing, Michigan to Cuban immigrant parents and moved to Miami, Florida at 6 years old, allowing her to connect more to her Cuban heritage.


Encounter as Text

There are many emotions I am feeling after having the first official class of España Study Abroad. The main emotion I am feeling is excited and positive towards this journey and everything it entails, and although I am not exactly sure of what is to come, I know it’ll be an experience I will never forget. Growing up in the United States and taking history classes throughout the school years, I had always heard of people from Latin America having Spanish roots, and as a Cuban I was always intrigued at how I am of Spanish descent. After taking this course and visiting the country, I hope to become more connected to my roots and culture, as well as learn about traditions I partake in now that come from España. I have never been anywhere in Europe, but España has always been somewhere I have wanted to go since I was a child since my mom has visited many times and has always told me how much she loved it. While the reason I chose this class was rather random and not planned, I feel like that has allowed me to come into the course with no expectations on what I want to learn about, see, or do, and will allow me to enjoy the class and the different directions it may lead to.

As of right now, I have basic knowledge on the culture of España, such as the traditional foods Spanish people eat, like paella and their love for tapas. Additionally, I am familiar with Flamenco music and dance, as well as musicians and actors from España such as Rosalía, Julio Iglesias, and Antonio Banderas. It is interesting to realize how much figures such as these have an impact of the entertainment industry around the world. On the other hand, when it comes to important buildings, churches, and monuments in España, I know little to nothing about them. Off the top of my head, I can only think of knowing about the Sagrada Familia, so I am looking forward to learning more about the history the places we will visit have and why they are so important to Spanish culture.

Before having the first official meeting of España Study Abroad, I was nervous about meeting new people and traveling alone for such a long period of time without someone I am close to; finding flights and coordinating dates was particularly nerve-racking and stressful. Now though, I am excited at these new opportunities, and I believe doing this Study Abroad program will allow me to become more independent, as well as confident in my abilities to travel on my own and have to navigate myself through airports and trains to get to Madrid as well as when leaving from Barcelona. Because I am a commuter student, I have never been away from home for as long as I will be, and I am looking forward to placing myself out of my comfort zone while exploring a country I have never been to with my peers.

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