Home Away from Home: Jaime Garcia-Iglesias ’16

Jaime Garcia-Iglesias ’16 talks about Rollins, studying in the U.S., and the items he brought with him from Spain to make his stay in Winter Park feel more like home.

(Photo by Scott Cook) (Photo by Scott Cook)

I am from… Pola de Laviana, Asturias, Spain.

I speak… Spanish, English, and Arabic.

I am majoring in… English at my university in Spain but in critical media and cultural studies while at Rollins.

I first heard about Rollins… from one of the notice boards at my college in Spain, which has exchange programs with other colleges here in the U.S. Rollins was the only one that had full tuition and board, so I was like, “Alright, I’m gonna try it.” I went to the interview being very naïve about what Rollins was. In fact, the first time I access the web page was when they told me I was going, about two months before I came here.

I would describe myself as the kind of student who… isn’t hardworking but who is passionate about what I do. I don’t like studying, per se, but I like getting good grades; I like knowing things.

The professor who has had the most impact on me at Rollins is… Dr. Lisa Tillmann. I liked her from the beginning. She’s one of those people who when you hear them talking, you can’t help but be openmouthed for the whole length of their speech. She’s a committed professor, but even more she’s a committed activist, a world changer, and I think that’s essential for our discipline, to have that kind of thing. I think she’s one of those professors that everyone should take, at least once, because she opens your views, she opens your mind, and she will help you. She’s picky, but she’s gonna pick everything you need to improve and then at the end you’ll have an done amazing work.

I can’t live without… my family and my friends. I am very social, not the type of social people think of like “partying hard, getting drunk, and passing out.” No. That’s not being social; that’s being stupid. But I am the kind of social that I love to hang out and talk to friends.

If I could share a coffee with anyone, it would be… with my friends back home because I have too many experiences that I would like to tell them, so many anecdotes, funny things that have happened to me.

I am passionate about… being good at what I do—about being good at any kind of performance, but being also good in the everyday sense of goodness, like trying to be nice to people. I value niceness when it’s felt, when it’s real. I hate false niceness. Because if you’re nice, you should be really nice.

One thing people should know about me is… that I’m more brave than it seems. I am brave in the sense of taking chances. I learned I was brave when I began traveling actively to different parts of the world. Sometimes it turned out fine, and sometimes it turned out kind of more dangerous. The fact that you go to one of those places and you don’t flee back home, it says something.

The best period of my life has been… college because it hasn’t been high school.

I always smile when… I’m talking with people I like.

The one word that best describes me is… happy-hyphen-brave-slash-hard worker. It’s a whole word.

The thing I like most about myself is… I like myself as a whole. This has been a year of changes and coming to terms with things. I like myself as a whole. I’ve settled more into myself.

The time I felt the most alone was… probably the first days here in the U.S. I don’t mean being alone in a bad sense; I mean in that you have nobody here whom you know. I didn’t experience that as necessarily bad or terrible. It was just coming to the realization that, my God, I’m so far from home. I’m so far from everything I know. It was challenging, but in a good way.

One of the first things I remember about arriving in Orlando is… when I landed here and got out of the airport. I was like “OMG, it’s so hot.” That’s my first memory. I got off the plane with my jacket on because, you know, AC in airports is pretty cold, and that’s when I thought, “OMG, I’m melting.”

When I tell people I’m from Spain, they often… ask me where I am from, expecting me to say either Madrid or Barcelona. When I don’t say that, they lose any kind of interest. And they say they want to go to Spain.

The thing I miss most about Spain is… the quality of life. Being able to get out of work and just not having anything to do. That doesn’t mean you don’t do anything—you can go out for a coffee and that coffee can extend into late evening. You can end up having dinner, going to a club. This happens very frequently, but you don’t plan them ahead.

The biggest cultural obstacle for me has been… politeness. People here are really polite to your face; they’re really nice, really sweet. In Spain, we’re not; in Spain, we speak our minds directly. And that has been very interesting. I have the excuse of being a foreigner, but sometimes people get PTSD whenever I leave a room because I’m just very honest.


(Photo by Scott Cook) (Photo by Scott Cook)

In his room

1 | Turrón
A traditional Christmas dessert in Spain, Turrón is made with almonds, sugar, and honey. My family sent it to me in a Christmas care pack.

2 | A stuffed bull
I don’t like bullfighting; I don’t like that the Spanish flag has certain connotations with it; but I liked this bull. I was buying some last-minute things to bring here, and I decided to bring it with me.

3 | Photo of friends
This is a picture my friends took of themselves and gave it to me as part of a care package when I left. It’s a funny picture.

4 | Monster slippers
These are super comfy. During Christmas, we were buying things for my cousin, and I thought they were nice but they didn’t have them in his size (since he’s seven). My mother got them for me, and I brought them here. I wear them when I go downstairs to get some water or something, or when it’s cold, or when I’m wearing my pajamas.

5 | A Christmas ornament
This is one of ornaments from back home—I don’t know how old it is. My parents sent it to me when I was complaining to them that I didn’t have any tree to decorate here.

6 | A journal
This is a notebook I bought in Tunisia when I was studying Arabic a few years ago. It has the first composition I wrote in Arabic that made some sense and some of my flash cards.