Happily Ignorant

Reid Larsen
February 8, 2017

Being out and about in Spain has really made it evident how much I don’t know about the world. There are so many cultural differences, nuances and common knowledge that come with growing up in a different part of the world. Whether it’s how many people smoke on the street or the fact that there are hardly any skyscrapers in the Madrid. Or that most college students live with their parents and hardly any live on their college campus. Combine this with an incomplete understanding of the spanish language and you’re left with a happily ignorant international student meandering the streets of Madrid trying to figure out what’s what.

With Spanish, I’m getting so much better, but I’m still nowhere near fluent. I thought I’d be able to be fluent by the end of this trip but after talking with Madrileños and noticing how fast and easily they speak, there’s no way I will actually be fluent by the end. I will definitely be better, especially if I’m able to put myself in situations where I’m not able to speak english, but there’s just so much I don’t know. I love it! Yes of course I love the idea of finally being fluent and having a good grasp on Spanish culture but where’s the fun in that? Figuring all this stuff out is the best part. Laughing about how you’re not supposed to say ‘estoy excitado’ but rather ‘estoy emocionado’ is such a genuine experience. Making friends with the cleaning ladies in the dorm even though you two can barely understand each other is fun too. It’s not often you get to live in an environment like that.

At home things are different for me too. Facebook has been blowing up about the United States political system and all the protests happening. I feel helplessly ignorant about everything going on, as if I’m not nearly informed enough to have an intelligent conversation about any of these issues. And even more, I don’t want to. Is that bad? Without social media I’m on cloud nine. But at the same time, I know there’s a lot of important things happening in the world, and there’s lots of injustice and people suffering. Is it bad that I just want to live my life here in Spain and enjoy myself without getting bogged down by the rest of the world?


I’ve been living in Madrid for almost a month now. My Spanish professor said that today and I freaked out. Time is going way too fast. I’ve been waiting to study abroad for so long and I’m already done with almost a month! Time has got to slow down.

It seems like my life has flown by ever since I began college. I sometimes find myself thinking about my life and my future and I keep coming back to this big tradeoff. I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive or even two ends of a continuum, but I keep thinking about the tradeoff between enjoying life and making an impact on the world. Between working less to travel and spend time with my loved ones versus dedicating my time to and starting a business that helps people. Of course you can make a difference outside of work, but I don’t want to make change just to pat myself on the back. I want to truly change people’s lives for the better, even save their lives entirely, and to that I think at least a portion of that has to come from my work. There has to be a way to combine the two or achieve both these goals, but I’m not sure how to do that yet. Also no idea how I’d even help people in the first place or what I’d want to do for fun, but that’s a topic for another day. In the past I was a big planner, but lately I’ve been a lot more go-with-the-flow. It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made. I’ve been much less stressed and so much happier. A big thing I’m starting to realize is that it’s fun to not know.

We’ll see where the wind takes me!

More Blogs From This Author

View All Blogs

Reid Larsen

<p>There&rsquo;s nothing like late night, deep talks, and solving the world&rsquo;s problems. In Madrid, I&rsquo;m looking to learn as much as I can, get to know as many people as I can, and get outside my comfort zone as much as I can. Come join the adventure.</p>

2017 Spring
Home University:
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
Engineering - General
Explore Blogs