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Koret Fellowship Program

Marilynn Escun

Psychology & Philosophy major, Class of 2018

During the fall of 2017, I studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain. It was an incredible experience with a variety of challenges and successes. I learned about various cultures through a study of Catalan and Spanish history, which was very eye-opening and insightful. For example, I took a class on discrimination and persecution in the West, which mainly focused on the persecution of Jews in Europe. In addition, I was fortunate enough to receive the opportunity to to stay with a Spanish family during my time in Barcelona, who taught me various local customs that were quite relatable to my own culture. I found another home in Barcelona and am incredibly grateful for the tremendous opportunity to become more educated and experience other cultures.

Additionally, I traveled to a total of ten different cities in Europe, which includes Paris, Venice, Lisboa, and Seville. These weekend trips gave me a more comprehensive experience of Europe. I tasted new dishes such as the crepes in Paris, the pastel de nata in Lisboa, and Belgian waffles in Brussels. I visited various monuments and museums such as the Eiffel Tower, the Coliseum, and the Louvre. Lastly, I walking through countless sacred buildings including many Catholic churches such as La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, St. Paul’s Church in London, the Cathedral of Seville, and St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. I thoroughly enjoyed merely roaming around the streets of Barcelona, Venice, and Paris to merely explore the beautiful architecture and lively local culture. These experiences taught me the simple beauty and value in our surroundings if we take the opportunity to truly appreciate it.

Despite the various invaluable experiences, I also encountered some obstacles during my time abroad. I was not able to connect with a majority of my peers at our study abroad center due to mainly cultural differences. However, I did find a solid group of friends whom I traveled with and my roommate was thoroughly amazing throughout our time there. I encountered various professors whose teaching methods were very unusual and not beneficial to my learning about the topic at hand. In addition, I was very homesick at various points during my time abroad. This was the first time I traveled internationally and there was a tremendous distance between my family and I, which did not provide the possibility of frequent travel. It was slightly nerve-wracking, but confiding in my friends and family helped me grow accustomed to the distance and alleviate some of my fears.

My experience revealed the diverse cultures that exist outside of my immediate sphere. I tried to adapt to various customs in the Spanish culture, which was slightly difficult. However, I quickly noticed how looking at situations or things with a fresher and newer perspective provides a lot of insight into one’s life. My travels around Europe provided me with a reiteration of the fortunate opportunities that have been presented to me. In addition, it gave me more motivation to seek those opportunities and privileges for others. This aligns with my current goals, which is to find a career or path that will allow me to serve others.

As of now, my path is leading towards a career in the field of law. Learning about the law provides one with a lot of knowledge and power. One can understand what is appropriate conduct or not and what laws may be unjust and immoral. With this career, I hope to serve underrepresented and impoverished communities. I can see the consequences and benefits of the laws, which I aim to utilize for the benefit of impoverished communities. There are numerous immigrant and criminal lawyers who do not advocate enough for their clients, which is quite frankly very disappointing. I would like to aid these communities after personally witnessing the destructive consequences of the broken criminal and immigration system of this country. I hope that with the utilization of my experiences, ideas, and knowledge that I can reach my goal.

Marilynn in Barcelona