Growing up, Patricia Fernandez’s favorite books were full of adventures in different worlds, helping her realize her passion for traveling and experiencing different cultures.
After graduation, Fernandez, a senior global studies and spanish major, will move to Salamanca, Spain, in September on a scholarship to begin an international master’s program called Erasmus LaGlobe. Fernandez will research connections between Europe and Latin America for two years, taking classes in Spanish, English and French in Salamanca; Stockholm, Sweden; and Paris, France.
“This is my dream,” she said. “This past year has probably been very difficult for a lot of people and it has for me, too, so it kind of feels like a part of the light at the end of the tunnel, knowing that I can still do something I’m really interested in.”
Fernandez’s plans to research how hip-hop culture is displayed in marginalized areas in Paris, France, and Sao Paulo, Brazil, for her thesis. It’s inspired by her internship in Sao Paulo with Projeto Casulo, a community organization that taught hip-hop, graffiti muraling and dance.
After studying in Sao Paulo and Paris, Fernandez saw patterns between the city layout and environments, making her curious about other connections the cities have, especially in suburbs that are often framed in a negative light, Fernandez said.
“Even though these are very different countries, in very different regions of the world too, they kind of have the same pattern in their way their cities laid out in like, the kind of spatial and cultural expressions that happen through their suburbs,” she added.
She will spend her first three semesters learning theory in interdisciplinary studies, like sociology and political science in different cultures, and also working on her master’s thesis through the entire program. Her final semester will consist of fieldwork in Latin America, and Fernandez hopes to be in Brazil, she said.
Fernandez is Cuban American, and grew up learning the Spanish language, but studying Spanish at Temple helped her reconnect with it through the Latin American Studies Semester program, an intensive Spanish language semester with a three-week trip to Ecuador, she said.
She learned most of her French language skills while studying in Paris during her junior year through an intensive language program, Fernandez added.
When Fernandez learned about Erasmus LaGlobe her sophomore year, she was excited to mix her interest in Latin American and European studies and her love of languages.
“I’m reading about this program and being like, it’s almost like someone met me and then like, left and like, designed a master’s program and didn’t tell me about it,” she said.
Her classes in Salamanca will be in person, with social distancing and masking, though the official COVID-19 guidelines have not been released by the program, Fernandez said.
For international travel, fully vaccinated people are required to take a COVID-19 test three to five days after traveling. If people are not vaccinated, they must quarantine for seven days with a negative COVID-19 test or 10 days without being tested, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To apply to LaGlobe, Fernandez took language exams to prove her English, Spanish and French fluency, writing a letter about why she wants to participate in the program, getting a letter of recommendation and completing a research proposal for her master’s thesis, she said.
Barbara Gorka, director of scholar development in the Office of Scholar Development and Fellowships Advising, met Fernandez when she attended a Fellowships 101 meeting her freshman year that Gorka ran. Gorka helped revise Fernandez’s application for Erasmus LaGlobe and held a mock interview in Spanish and English with her, Gorka said.
“When she showed [the program] to me I was like, ‘This is you. It has you written all over it,’” Gorka added.
Gorka helped Fernandez apply for programs like the Leadership Alliance summer research program at Brown University, which is how she interned in Brazil, and has seen Fernandez’s writing grow and improve during the last four years, she said.
“She’s always been warm and smart and that just that doesn’t go away,” Gorka said. “It’s great to see somebody who is, you know, continues to grow as a scholar without getting a big head.”
Patricia Moore-Martinez, undergraduate chair for the department of Spanish and Portuguese, taught Fernandez in the Latin American Studies Semester during her freshman year.
Fernandez is passionate about global studies and pursuing research in her academics and her work with communities while she is abroad, Moore-Martinez said.
“She’s the only student I’ve ever met in my entire career at Temple who was capable of winning the scholarship and also deserved it,” she said. “I’ve never met another student that has her, that has both her language and intellectual skill set.”
Fernandez is excited to understand university systems in other countries and meet other students and professors from around the world who are passionate about language and world cultures, she said.
“I’m very extroverted and the year of like, being home all the time has been tough,” she said. “Aside from the academics and the professional aspect of it, I think I’m really excited to just get out there and like, you know, meet a lot of people that have the same interest as me.”