“Buenos días, ¿cómo estás?”

Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

When my dad first began working in Mexico, I nonchalantly changed my schedule to include seventh grade “Intro to Spanish.” Naturally, I didn’t think twice about what would later prove a crucial decision—few seventh graders realize how such simple choices can affect his or her future. Now, a mere five years later, I realize just how important that choice was and how much it has affected who I am and who I will become. Choosing to learn Spanish has provided me with irreplaceable experiences which have given me insight into what I hope to achieve in the future.My Spanish studies took me on a trip to Mexico City to stay with a family whom I had never met. After the first few rather awkward hours, my initial culture shock gave way to an undying respect for the hospitality of this family and the Mexican people. My “sister” gave up her room, sleeping on her brothers’ floor in order to make me as comfortable as possible. Her ten- and twelve-year-old brothers even went out of their way to include me in their habitual backyard soccer matches. An everyday occurrence, trivial in most Hispanic countries, made me realize just how different the people and culture of Mexico are from those of the United States. At a routine doctor’s appointment for my “sister’s” uncle, we sat in the waiting room reading magazines and looking out the window of the hospital as we would in any other doctor’s office. However, when the receptionist finally called us in to see the doctor, I noticed what I had been taking for granted thus far on the trip: when the doctor entered the room, he did not simply say, “Buenos días” and proceed with his examination. He made a point to greet each person in the tiny room individually with a “Buenos días, ¿cómo estás?” as well as the usual Latin peck on the cheek. The expressions on the faces of the others remained unchanged as they turned their attention to the uncle’s checkup, but I, unsure of exactly what was happening anyway, sat in that doctor’s office in Mexico City silently swearing an undying love to the Hispanic people and their hospitable manner. All it took was one genuine greeting and kiss on the cheek from a complete stranger to make me realize just how much small gestures can distinguish a culture. From my experiences with Spanish-speaking cultures I have learned that there is something fulfilling about understanding those who are different from me and trying to bridge the barrier that exists between languages and cultures. Although I have always aspired to be a doctor so that I may help people, my travels and education in Hispanic culture have made me realize that doing so may mean, not only continuing my dream of studying medicine, but also pursuing Spanish language and studies.

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