So last week I was in Galicia. It was such an amazing trip! I’d never seen such beautiful beaches and cool sea critters. It was a very hands-on experience, where the professor actively encouraged and expected us to put our hands under rocks, dig around on the beach for species and explore. I loved it! But I also couldn’t help be reminded of how different things are here relative to America.
A professor in the states would no doubt have had us sign a bunch of things, and tell us repeatedly to step with caution over slippery, sharp, barnacle covered rocks, and provided us with gloves and goggles, and maybe bubble wrap for good measure – you get the idea. Here however, a person’s safety is in their hands, and while our professor might’ve gotten in trouble if we had been hurt, the expectation is that we’re adults and know how to handle ourselves. Plus people here apparently don’t really sue for things, i.e. walking into a manhole would be on you for not looking where you were going. And I kind of like that idea, well not the manhole one, (put up a sign for god sake!), but this notion that you can’t blame others for things that you unintentionally inflict on yourself; it’s very much a culture of taking responsibility. Something which our, sue-for-anything U.S. culture does not have as much of a grip on.
In any case, rant over, it was a really cool trip and the last day we had a queimada (burning the liquor off of a typical gallego hot drink; a parting tradition). Our professor came out in a witch’s hat and proceeded to play with the blue flames and recite a “spell” using the latin species names of worms we’d found – he’s a large, burly man with a full beard – it was awesome. But perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects of the whole trip was getting to know the people in my class. For so long I’d just sat next to them, with minimal interactions, but by the end of the trip we all knew each other, and I felt so much more connected to the academic experience. I just wish we could have had that experience sooner since after this next test I probably won’t be seeing them again.