Global Correspondents, Semester Abroad Finding Melanin in Madrid
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February 28, 2023
Tyeirra Lynch, Wharton '24
Comillas Pontifical University (ICADE), Spain
Tyeirra is one of the Semester Abroad Global Correspondents writing and sharing her experience abroad during the Spring 2023 semester. Follow along with the group of correspondents on our blog and look out for their images on the @pennabroad Instagram feed.
Obviously moving to a new country is set to come with challenges. Challenges one could say I have been preparing for by moving from my majority (90%) minority high school to a predominantly White institution like the University of Pennsylvania. However, when I arrived in Madrid, it was a much different scene. I could go days without seeing or talking to another Black person. Being the shy and anxious person I am, it was ultimately quite difficult for me to step out of my comfort zone and introduce myself to new people.
At a certain point I was prepared for this to be the entirety of my time here. I was content with the friends I had made. Even if they did not look like me, they were all nice people who I was having great experiences with. However, and gladly so, this was not the case. A friend of mine asked me if I was in the Black Madrid group chat, “Melanin Madrid”. At the time I had not even heard of this chat, but I was eager to be in it once I knew of it. She reached out to her friend and had me added to the chat.
Later that day, someone asked if anyone wanted to grab dinner at a vegan restaurant in Sol. I was a bit hesitant for a few reasons, the first being that no one replied to the message, so I was not sure if anyone was going. Secondly, I am not vegan, and I do not believe in beyond meat. Finally, although this may have been my fourth week in Madrid, I still had no idea how to take the metro here. This was the perfect opportunity for me to learn. I got lost. I accidentally took the metro the wrong way. Fortunately, the metro runs fairly often here; so, I was able to get off and get on the correct train to the restaurant.
Once I got to the restaurant, I relaxed a bit. There were people there and the restaurant had waffles (which do not include beyond meat). The girls I met were really nice and they could relate to my experiences here in Spain. It was the connection I had been missing. After dinner, we made a group chat to stay in touch and decided to have a picnic to have a Galentine’s celebration. It was a great time to relax and be around people that I felt understood me.
Ultimately, making friends is hard for me, but it is also very important to me. So usually, when I have the opportunity to meet new people and socialize, I try to put myself out there no matter how many ways I think it can go wrong. Even if it goes poorly, I tend to get a good story out of it. In this case, since it went well, I got good friends out of it.
The Semester Abroad (SA) program offers undergraduate students the opportunity to study in a new global community through extended study for a semester or year. Penn Abroad partners with top institutions around the globe and collaborates with Penn’s undergraduate schools to offer programs for students across academic disciplines.