I am a super big animal person, and this trip definitely fueled my love for animals. To start off, people walk with their dogs unleashed all the time. That meant the dogs were free to roam and come up to as they pleased. I definitely got a few pets in at those times but I was also jealous because my dog was never that good off leash. The Bioparc was probably one of my favorite places I went this trip solely because of how active the animals were. There was a section where the lemurs were just allowed to free roam. My classmates and I also spent almost an hour looking at the gorilla because he was moving around and doing a lot. The elephants were also really cool. We got to see them super up close and they did a bunch of stuff. I had wanted to go back to the Bioparc at some point during the trip, but I never made it there. Hopefully in the future I can go and see it again. The last thing was the cats in the garden next to the Museum of Fine Arts. There were so many of them and I wanted to pet them all. I could have spent hours in that garden just watching and petting the cats. I wanted to go back with food and water for them but I never got the chance to. I’m glad I got to see them though, because seeing stray cats like that isn’t normal in America. At least, where I live stray dogs and cats don’t really exist, because people will pick up any animal they see as soon as it looks lost. I still want a cat but my mom is allergic. However, I am glad I got to spend so much time with the cats before I left.
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Social Anxiety and Traveling
Honestly, I was originally not going to go on this trip and participate in this program. I was a big homebody and didn’t really like doing things outside of my comfort zone. There was also financial factors that contributed to that, but that is a whole different story. I was someone who had a very hard time making friends and talking to people in a general setting. Therefore, being in a new country where the main language was a language I didn’t speak very well made me nervous. When someone has social anxiety, their brain provides all these negative scenarios on how people would react to them and what they think about them. I didn’t want to be put in one of those negative scenarios my brain came up with especially in a place where I wasn’t familiar with the culture or the social norms. When I got to Spain, I noticed that it wasn’t much different from America, except that the people there had a staring problem. I think it was because we looked different and sounded different, and as a result, they weren’t accustomed to that, but it was still a huge turn off for me when it came to interacting with people. I didn’t want someone to give me a hard time because my Spanish wasn’t good, or I didn’t want them to make fun of me because of that, but to be honest, I realized how similar this was to the reverse in America with non English speakers. I could understand how frustrating it was when you couldn’t get your point across, or when people made fun of how you spoke their native language. That was one of my biggest takeaways from this trip. Overall, I think it went pretty okay when it came to my social anxiety. I didn’t do anything that I knew would be out of my comfort zone except for maybe a few times when I had friends with me. I don’t know how this trip affected my social skills over all, but it was definitely a good experience for me and was beneficial to me in becoming more comfortable socially.