Written by Alexandra Veverka
After my first week and a half in Valencia, I have learned to identify so many more plant pests after hours in the lab with my internship, use the metro to go all around Valencia, and speak to locals about the best places to get paella, one of Valencia’s famous dishes. I have not taken for granted challenging skills as far as cooking for myself decent meals other than ramen noodles, learning to survive without fast food, and the advantages and disadvantages of not having a car. I have stepped right in to a brand new lifestyle. However, from this I have and will continue to be able to grow so much.
First and foremost, I have learned how to connect with people I work with and the community I live in. I may only speak some Spanish, but with what I know, I am able to practice and develop in talking to others. Developing connections with other leaders in my studies, and the amazing general community of Valencia, has made me feel so much more at home in a place over 4,000 miles from the small town where I grew up.
This week I visited Valencia’s Central Market, where I was able to try a few of the many
Iberian ham sandwiches and other meats that my dad insisted I tried while I was here for only 1 euro. They were very cheap, but incredible! Seeing all the people there enjoying good food, from chorizo to fresh strawberries, made me thankful to be able to try something completely new. Walking around the European city, I was amazed by the beauty of it all, and the deep underlying history. Even in the small division within Valencia that I live, the history is rich and the people are just as kind.
Under my professor here at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, I have been kept busy learning about biological control in crops. The cultural views are evident here as many people within my team are trying to steer away from pesticide applications, whereas in North Carolina, pesticide applications for farmers are quite common. The research I am developing involves valuable skills to evaluate a different outlook on agriculture, and the real life lab and field skills to make my own contributions. I look forward to developing research and better understanding Spain’s agriculture and what I have to learn from their practices.