From Dismissing Study Abroad as a Possibility Due to Financial Constraints to Making it a Reality
Miguel Grado tells us his remarkable journey from overcoming doubts about studying abroad to seeing the world differently after his life-changing experience in Granada, Spain.
Getting to Granada-A Dream Come True!
Miguel Angel Grado, 26’ is currently a sophomore pursuing a major in Chemistry with a minor in Mathematics. On campus, Miguel is involved in Greek life as a fraternity Kappa Alpha Order member and works for “Upward Bound” a first-generation program. He is a first-generation student who graduated from this program.
As a child, he had always desired to travel the world and experience other cultures and languages, but as the son of a single mother who was the sole provider for him and his siblings, this didn’t seem possible. He would always joke with his mom that one day he would study abroad and see the world, even though he knew their family didn’t have the funds to support such an excursion. Miguel was raised in Jarrell, Texas, and attended a small high school before Southwestern. Since his high school’s main priority was getting students to graduate, there was little support for pursuing post-high school education. Due to this, he was unaware of opportunities available to him as an undergraduate student.
However, this changed after arriving at Southwestern, including learning about the opportunity to study abroad. Miguel attended a study abroad information session he had seen advertised. When he heard about all the funding available for study abroad programs, he couldn’t help but smile and called his mother immediately. She encouraged him to apply but cautioned him not to get his hopes up if it didn’t happen., Miguel moved forward on his study abroad journey by applying for the SU Granada faculty-led summer program and submitting an SU Study Abroad Scholarship application. When he received the news about his acceptance into the program and the funding he was awarded, Miguel eagerly shared the good news with his mother! Miguel’s mother burst into tears at hearing the news! It was a moment they both would never forget.
Life Abroad in Granada
Here is what Miguel has to share about his life changing experience abroad during the summer of 2023.
“Spain is a beautiful country, and for a brief period of time, I was able to call it home. I adored its culture, welcoming society, and rich history. My favorite memories from Spain were seeing the Alhambra in person. I was so fascinated to see the amazing Arabic architecture. The precise geometric shapes and biblical meanings were so beautiful.
Another impactful memory I have from Spain was seeing a bullfight in person! At first, I had doubts about going to one because of the harm they do to the animals, but on the other hand, it is one of the main cultural events in Spain. As I went, I was not expecting to see anything too impressive, but as I sat down and saw the huge stadium, I knew I would love it. During the show, I was so anxious during the show, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of the bullfighters. The amount of bravery these fighters have is so powerful. As I kept watching, I was entertained, but maybe for reasons you wouldn’t expect. The bullfighters would taunt the bulls, but at first glance, you may think they are trying to just aggravate them, but it is also a way to dance. The beauty of sacrificing one’s life to dance with an animal that can diminish your life in a matter of seconds is so beautiful to me. It did remind me of an old tale of forsaken love.
A significant part of my enjoyment from this study abroad experience was how our classroom was not only inside a classroom (of course) but outside as well. I find it difficult to talk to people since I am not outgoing. However, once a week I had to approach a Spanish local in the neighborhood and ask them a particular conversation prompt. I usually don’t speak to many other Spanish speakers, so this weekly task significantly increased my confidence in Spanish. It also motivated me to practice speaking more frequently with others by stepping outside of my comfort zone. Overall, I am glad that I decided to take this adventure to enhance my Spanish-speaking skills and step out of my comfort zone.
Influencing Others to Study Abroad!
Miguel shares that studying abroad was one of the best decisions he made! His dreams come true, and the experience gave him unforgettable memories to cherish for the rest of his life! This opportunity has also inspired him to return to Jarrell High School and influence other students to dream big and work hard. In Miguel’s words, “The opportunities are limitless if you just try hard enough”!