College 101 Dedicated Feature Life

This is why you should study abroad – I went to Madrid

I’ve always been a little hesitant and unsure of myself. When I started telling people that I planned on studying abroad for the Fall 2019 semester in Madrid, I could tell that they were worried. I mean, how was I going to survive alone? I wasn’t fluent in Spanish, I didn’t know anyone else that was in my program, and I don’t exactly have a plethora of common sense – I’m more book-smart. I think that part of it was that they didn’t want me to get my hopes up. Studying abroad could be a really great experience or a really terrible one, and there wasn’t room for anything in between. 

But, I was determined to prove them wrong. I always have been. Ever since I was little I’ve always felt that people saw my capabilities as one-sided. I could do this but never that. To me, it seemed like an expectation thing. No one expected me to be so independent and sturdy, especially when I appeared in front of them as fragile or sensitive.

The truth is that I had never been given the chance to prove myself in this capacity. The second that I took too long or wasn’t doing something precisely the way that someone else would, they took over. And, as a result, I became apprehensive, kind of shy, and extremely nervous. 

However, it turns out that I was right. I had been largely independent all along, and studying abroad was a great idea. I slowly realized that I could do anything I set my mind to, even this, all the while holding on tightly to my emotional tendencies. I learned a lot about myself while basking in the Mediterranean sun. 

During my time in Madrid, I met people and made connections in ways that are indescribable. I don’t know if it is because I finally found myself in a situation in which I was free from implicit restraints and boundaries or if I became a product of my surroundings. But, I am sure of at least one thing, that being that I was entering a moment in which I was young enough to still have the ignorant belief that nothing mattered, but also wise enough to know that everything mattered much more than it had ever before. There were so many things, and so many people, clawing at me and insisting for my attention, and I finally let go.

For the first time I acknowledged the positivism of this sweet, even blissful, point in my life—one that I may never get again. So, I gave in to the extremities. In doing so, the whole world opened up. I found security in empathy, I learned about ambition, self-awareness, and I felt genuine longing for the first time. I spent days dancing in streets that were once touched by Goya, Ernest Hemingway, and Velasquez. I read poems by Pablo Neruda on the metro and I ate TONS of churros con chocolate.

What I found to be the most pivotal about my experience in Madrid, though, would be living in a home-stay. This is where I spent the most time, had the most laughs, and learned the most about myself. The day after landing in Madrid I met my host family and moved into their home. While they didn’t speak any English at all, and whatever Spanish I did know I forgot the second I opened my mouth, we managed to work through it. 

I knew I wanted to build a relationship with them, but before I could do that, I had to conquer my own confidence battle. I had to remind myself that yes, they were strangers with whom I would be living with for months, but I was also a stranger to them. Frankly, we were all in the same boat. Eventually, I got used to their habits, learned their family traditions, and studied their culture until I felt like I belonged there. They made me feel like I was as much a Madrileño as they are.

At dinner, my host parents would always ask about my day, my classes, and if I was up to anything fun. On the weekends, they would recommend countless restaurants or art museums to my friends and I, and then ask me if I liked it the next day. They even comforted me when I felt overwhelmed or insecure. What I appreciated the most, however, is that they actually listened to my stories, which I am sure that I told in broken Spanish, and always seemed interested.

We really grew to love and care for one another. In those four short months I am sure that they watched me grow exponentially. I truly became myself and started to feel comfortable in my own skin. Plus, I came out being able to speak and communicate in Spanish light-years beyond my ability from when I first arrived in Madrid. 

My memories from this time in my life are whole, and they always will be whole. I’m finally able to show off my independence and I’m never turning back. This just goes to show that a little bit of introspection and determination could go a long way. Of course, I was scared to be alone and so far away but I knew that it was what I needed.  Once I convinced myself to just rip off the band-aid my possibilities for personal growth became endless.

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

Love Wellness

Stop pretending you just got triggered. It makes you look ridiculous.

A proper definition of the word triggered is vital before we go any further into this, mostly because it’s highly misunderstood and misused on the internet nowadays.  

Medically speaking, a “trigger” is something that can set off or activate the symptoms of a physical or mental illness in a person who is prone to it, having suffered from it or is suffering from it in the context of it being spoken of.  Being “triggered” automatically connotes a condition where the person would not function normally once they have come in contact with their trigger.

And this is apparently funny to some people.

It’s simply beyond me just how this can be considered hilarious when it’s a serious and dangerous situation to go through. Being triggered is not a joke – it can cost someone their life, if not properly handled.

I’ve seen this pattern on the internet where someone will voice their opinion on something that has bothered them and at least one or two people (mostly Men’s Rights Activists) will respond to this with “Oh you’re triggered” 


 I’ve even seen posts titled as “How to trigger a feminist/feminazi”.

How the hell is this funny?

How is using a medical term used to denote an illness something to laugh about? 

And why do MRA’s think it’s supposedly “witty” or “sassy” to use triggered as a retort? Using the term “triggered” out of context does not make you seem smart or sassy. 

It just makes you look ignorant, insensitive, and ridiculous. It’s not funny.

Let me elaborate on this with an example.

A person who suffers from anxiety tweets out something pertaining to their anxiety that has happened to them, and you (being the wonderful MRA you are) choose to respond to that with “Who triggered you?” instead of trying to be even a little bit sensitive. 

You know what will happen? 

They might actually end up getting triggered due to your so-called wittiness. They might suffer from an anxiety attack all because you lack basic decency and education on this topic. There is a reason why “trigger warnings” are a thing. There is a reason why blood, gore, graphic imagery, etc. are provided with such imminent warnings in movies, music videos, etc.

Even social media websites, in general, recognize the importance of triggers wherein they label certain photos and videos as “sensitive content” before outright displaying it to the audience. That is a responsible use of social media

Casually using the term in an argument just to prove a point isn’t. 

It’s extremely important to be respectful and have at least basic decency even if you don’t agree with someone’s ideologies. You cannot cross the line between arguing and go straight to slandering.  

And it really isn’t that hard to refrain from using the word “triggered” itself when what you’re actually trying to imply is far from the actual meaning of the word. 

Don’t be an asshole, and don’t be offensive.

Love + Sex Love Life Stories

Yes, my Tinder date forced himself on me – but I didn’t realize until much later

Editor’s note: Content below might be graphic and disturbing.

I met him on Tinder. Dinner and drinks turned into more. I asked for that, but I didn’t ask for that. He stuck it in my ass, and through my muffled whimpers, continued to maneuver inside me.

That was the beginning of our casual dating relationship that lasted three months. We went out to dinner and parties and slept together many times after that first time.

But yes, he raped me.

The problem is that I didn’t even realize it because I thought it was okay. I hadn’t been taught to think otherwise.

I don’t think he meant to rape me. He also hadn’t learned that it wasn’t okay. But he still raped me. And he’s not the only guilty one. His lack of knowledge became my problem.

The absence of ‘no’ is a yes right? And a ‘no’ might actually be a yes?

The fact of the matter is there are more Rush Limbaugh’s and Brock Turner’s than Prince Charming’s out there.

Youtube: Jonah Chavilo

Writing about it helped me to heal. It’s not easy to admit to being raped. It’s not easy to admit to being harmed in any way. But if even one person doesn’t have to go through what I did, it’s worth sharing. Maybe even necessary.

I didn’t realize that I had been victimized until months later when I attended a Taboo Tales event in West Hollywood. Comedians, actors and regular people took the stage to tell stories no one wants to hear.

Comedienne Courtney Pauroso spoke about being raped by her emotionally manipulative and semi-famous boyfriend. Pauroso, along with fellow comedienne and victim Beth Stelling, outed the offender in question in a vlog. That night, Pauroso told the crowd that her new motto was to “be scary, not scared.”

Why, though, should she have to be scary or scared?

I take issue with the shifting of responsibility from him to her. Although female sexuality has become much less taboo in recent decades, the dominant sex culture continues to be on males’ terms. By agreeing to be in a relationship, you are apparently consenting to any and all forms of intercourse. There exists a general – and false – notion that if someone is your boyfriend, they can’t technically rape you. This is problematic, particularly in the era of dating apps, where “dating” has become a loose term.

Speaking from personal experience, I realized retroactively that I was a victim. It was not until I heard Pauroso describe and label her experience as rape that I realized that I had been victimized as well. The problem goes beyond silence to the way society teaches sex and gender roles.

In recent years there has been a push against victim blaming and efforts to redefine consent, particularly on college campuses, where rape is a salient issue. There has also been a rise of the blanketed approach to controversial topics.

The Atlantic calls it “the coddling of the American mind.”

Students are increasingly demanding protection from subjects that cause students emotional duress, for example, rape law. My problem with this approach is that not talking about rape helps rape happen.

Knowledge can mean pain, but it also means growth. Sexual education is important. So is the discussion of controversial, salient issues. Maybe if I had learned the standard of rape in a classroom, I would’ve spoken up while it was happening.

Maybe if my perpetrator had heard other women illustrate their experience with blurred lines, he wouldn’t have taken it that far without my consent.

How are we supposed to combat the most pertinent issues of our time, like sexism and xenophobia, if we refuse to talk about them?

Sensitivity in speech is important. Professors are present to referee discussions that go out of bounds. But outlawing, or worse, sugarcoating, important issues from our diction, or telling certain individuals that because of past experiences, they can sit the subject out, doesn’t change the facts.

The facts are that most women know their perpetrator. Women enrolled in college between the ages of 18-24 are 3 times more likely than women, in general, to be victimized, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. In a study on sexual victimization on college campuses, 9 out of 10 female victims knew their perpetrators, demonstrating how vulnerable young women placed in sexually conducive settings are to rape. Young women, who may not yet be comfortable with themselves or their sexuality, are being taken advantage of at alarmingly high rates.

I would know.

I want girls and boys to sit through the discussion, to hear the personal anecdotes. That way, maybe, when the girl who is a couple of years behind me in school hears my story, she knows how to be stronger than I was at that moment.

There’s no right way to talk about rape, but we must talk about it nonetheless.

TV Shows Pop Culture

I’ll watch anything that isn’t CSI: Miami

I don’t want to watch the actual murder, mind you. I relish the detection, the clues, the red herrings, the backtracking and the final reveal that it really was the butler all along. When I channel-surf of an evening, those are the shows I keep an eye out for – Castle, Law and Order, Monk.

But when I see CSI: Miami, I move on.

This is partly because CSI: Miami, like its other iterations, is needlessly gory. But it’s mostly because I think CSI: Miami is racist.

It’s not just me: Complex Magazine’s list of the top 50 most racist shows on television puts CSI: Miami at number 23.

The show is set in one of America’s most diverse cities, so obviously you’re going to have victims and perpetrators of every race. If you watch the show over time, however, you’ll start to notice a disturbing pattern: Hispanic offenders are almost always linked to gangs and drug cartels, and are therefore not only enacting violence but also tearing at the moral fabric of our society. Black offenders are a notch up – as violent criminals usually without gang ties, they’re presented as just bad people.

But white offenders are nearly always shown as being remorseful for their crimes, and there’s about a 50 percent chance they killed the guy on accident.

On CSI: Miami, white criminals, unlike black or Hispanic ones, feel bad about what they did. They were scared. They made a bad call. They weren’t trying to hurt anyone, things just got out of hand. They feel guilty. They cry. The narrative of the show makes it so that you can sympathize with white murderers, but not black or Hispanic ones.

[bctt tweet=”On #CSIMiami, white criminals virtually always regret their behavior. Not so for other races.”]

When I first began to notice this pattern, I tried to ignore it. I figured that while the show was definitely racist, I could still enjoy the murder-mystery aspect of it. Then season four’s Mala Noche mob arc killed the show for me. The beautiful but ill and weak Hispanic woman, hounded mercilessly by evil Hispanic drug dealers only to be rescued by the dashing white man with his head-tilting and sunglasses and penchant for justice – give me a break. And then she’s brutally murdered by the evil Hispanic gang, and of course Horatio Cane honors her and remembers her and avenges her needless death.

I don’t know how the people who write this stuff can take themselves seriously.

It was when I found myself actively rooting for the mob that I made the conscious decision to stop watching the show. The relentless stereotyping and racist narratives made it so that I no longer enjoyed the story or sympathized with the characters.

Since then, I’d like to think that I’ve become more aware of problematic narratives in popular culture. Art in any form – movies, music, books – should be enjoyable on some level, and there are some things that I actively avoid because I know that I won’t enjoy them, at least not enough to make them worth the time I would spend consuming them. Shows like Homeland, Tyrant, and anything else that portrays Middle Easterners as antagonists, I don’t even bother with; I just don’t need that kind of negativity in my life right now.

Music where the lyrics are entirely focused on sex and the body parts most commonly associated with sex I avoid like the plague – it just makes me feel gross. Rap and and hip hop are by no means the only offenders when it comes to this, for those whose mind immediately jumped there; country music is just as fraught with such images.

There is still a lot of problematic content in the media that I will consume, however, and quite happily at that. Gilmore Girls is one of my all-time favorite shows, and one of its major relationships is the friendship between the preppy, blue-eyed, all-American Rory Gilmore (her actress, Alexis Bledel, is actually Hispanic in real life), who gets to go out to concerts and dates with dangerous bad boy types and talk to her mother openly about love and sex, and the glasses-wearing, trumpet-playing, Korean character Lane Kim, whose mother won’t let her receive phone calls after 9 p.m. and forces her to attend Bible camp.

Mrs. Kim, who is antagonistic with everyone unfortunate enough to cross her path, is a walking, talking tiger mom stereotype. I know that. I know that the dichotomy between Rory and Lane perpetuates the idea of repressed women of color whose immigrant parents need to loosen the hell up and embrace “the American way.” But I still love the show for a number of reasons: first, Gilmore Girls is a good show. The characters are well-developed, the dialogue is hilarious, and the show is just generally fun to watch.

Second, unlike CSI: Miami, Mrs. Kim is not portrayed as all bad. It would be so easy for her to have just been written as the evil mom, but Mrs. Kim is a three-dimensional person who is often portrayed as being a caring mother who genuinely has her daughter’s best interests at heart.

Third, and most importantly, Mrs. Kim’s point of view isn’t dismissed by the other characters. Rory’s mother Lorelai, whose relationship with Lane can best be described as the embodiment of the white savior complex, nevertheless respects Mrs. Kim’s rules concerning her daughter and refuses to lie to her on Lane’s behalf. It’s not that Lorelai believes Mrs. Kim has a point; she clearly thinks the woman is terrifying and insane. It’s that Lorelai recognizes that Mrs. Kim has the right to make her own rules, even if they seem ridiculous and unreasonable.

Regardless of what we’re consuming, it’s important to be aware of the subliminal messages we’re being exposed to. Some of those messages are going to be offensive one way or another, and some of those messages are going to affect you differently. We’re naturally more sensitive to things that hit closer to home, and I’ve learned that it’s perfectly acceptable to recognize that in yourself and say, ‘Hey, when I hear derogatory comments that touch on my identity or the identities of those close to me, I feel hurt. I don’t want to expose myself to that.’ Don’t let anyone tell you you’re being too sensitive. You have a right to your feelings.

[bctt tweet=”Don’t let anyone tell you you’re being too sensitive. You have a right to your feelings.”]

At the same time, I don’t believe in cutting off something that you genuinely enjoy just because there are aspects of it that are offensive. Watching CSI: Miami doesn’t make you a racist. Heck, watching Homeland doesn’t make you racist. As long as you can maintain your awareness of problematic content and address it internally so that you’re not internalizing negative messages subconsciously, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy yourself and do what makes you happy.

There are always going to be problematic narratives in the media. And I don’t see that as a problem, because those narratives prompt dialogue about our society and our perceptions of ourselves and others. Ultimately, it’s that dialogue that will effect change in our beliefs, our communities, and with any luck, our policies.