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Personal Statement: Almost always right

Photo by Hannah Poindexter Buy this photo

By Hannah Poindexter, Daily Copy Editor
Published February 25, 2013

SEVILLE, Spain — I’m usually, almost always right. The phrase, now a long-forgotten joke with friends, serves as my secret, overconfident mantra.

I also firmly believe that my way is the right way, and that’s all there is to it. This may stem from 5 years as an only child, my streak of stereotypical American egocentrism or an overwatered seed of self-confidence, but in my experience it’s because in fact, I’m usually almost always right.

(Just to clarify, I’m not talking about always, always. I know I’m not right when it comes to Calculus, parallel parking or my sense of direction. I mean a bigger picture, lifestyle and decision-making kind of rightness.)

I write this rambling piece sitting on my rooftop terrace in Seville, Spain. I’m basking in the sun, enjoying a view of orange trees and blue skies and wondering how, like everyone promises, Seville can get even better in the spring.

And here I’ll pause for a moment and let you be jealous.

Now, as I’m enjoying tapas with Enrique Iglesias, I hear a faint voice in the back of my head. It’s getting stronger as our pitcher of sangria steadily disappears and it’s whispering “What do you think of your way now?”

This voice has a point. My way of life in the States has never had the time or the appropriate weather to include lounging on a rooftop terrace. My way has never included tapas, Spanish-pop-star serenades or siestas either. The reminders continue with the beautiful architecture that surrounds me, the rich history that stretches long before my hometown’s 1847 founding and the romantic Spanish language I am slowly but surely re-learning. The sangria voice is breaking down my precious “right way,” as it describes the buzz in the city when the Sevilla Fútbol Club is playing, the lively and traditional atmosphere of Plaza de España and the heavenly 3-hour period of each day known as siesta when shops close and you’re allowed, even expected, to relax and do absolutely nothing.

As usual, I have a few rebuttal arguments. The whole garbage-workers-on-strike-for-two-weeks thing didn’t look or smell so great. Being constantly surrounded by a cloud of secondhand cigarette smoke isn’t exactly pleasant and my blue eyes drawing stares like a green shirt on Michigan game day isn’t my favorite either. God forbid I sing along to Taylor Swift while walking to the metro station and risk being verbally abused by an elderly woman. (I’m honestly still not sure if she was upset that we would never, ever be getting back together, the English or my obvious American-ness.)

But I think the sangria voice has me beat in this argument. It may be odd to eat lunch at four and dinner at 10, I’m still not quite sure who qualifies for a cheek-kissed greeting and I’m never going to remember not to smile at people on the street, but that doesn’t make the Sevillan way wrong.

At home, I can reject any way I don’t agree with. And this, my friends, is the real reason I have been usually almost always right for the last 20 years. But here, for the first time, I have been forced to accept and learn a new way without retreating comfortably back to my own. Whether it fits in my old way or not, I now have to use a 24-hour clock, face the confusion of the public transportation system and come to terms with the fact that book spines read from bottom to top.

But, as it turns out, I happen to like it. I love that in the Sevillan way, matching children’s outfits are commonplace and I’ll happily discard my Michigan-bred habit of carrying mittens, sunglasses and an umbrella with me at all times thanks to the ever-present southern Spanish sun.

Of course, no one likes being wrong, and I’m definitely no exception, but in the short month I’ve spent abroad, I’ve rather enjoyed living this very not-my-way lifestyle. So I have to say, though this is hard for me, I’ve learned I’m not always right. And I’m probably not usually almost always right either, even when it comes to the big stuff. My right way has worked out just fine in my life, but that’s only because I never gave another way a chance. Keeping an open mind, I could have been napping every day for years, or discovering the 2,000 delicious uses for olive oil I know now.

It’s simple enough. You just read 800 words hoping to convince you, yet again, that broadening your horizons and life views is an essential part of life and college in particular. But maybe if the stubborn, usually almost always right girl can accept it, you can too. I’ll probably always hold onto my secret mantra, but discovering the merit of another way might just demote me to: occasionally almost always right.

Hannah is an LSA junior studying through International Studies Abroad