Student standing in front of a large stone building in the city of Rabat.
"Taking a tour around the city of Rabat, learning about their history and culture." (Photo credit: Sophia Mares De Juan)

Sophia at Sea: What Being a Global Citizen Means to Me

"Global Aggies Sophia at Sea" is a blog series chronicling undergrad Sophia Mares de Juan’s journey as she travels, by ship, around the world studying abroad for a semester. Sophia is participating in the Semester at Sea program and will be blogging here from September 2022 through February 2023—sharing advice, photos and reflections along the way. Read Sophia's first blog postRead Sophia's second blog post. Read Sophia's third blog post

I am back home! After finishing up my Semester at Sea program and going back to San Diego, I did not quite know what those words meant to me anymore. Is home a place?

After thinking about it these past few days, I am realizing that sometimes when I say "home," I am referring to Mexico, the place where I grew up; sometimes I am referring to San Diego because that is where my family goes when we are not in Mexico; and sometimes I mean here in Davis because that is where I have been living for the past four years. The reality is that "home" is not a place for me anymore; it is now a feeling. I feel at home when I am surrounded by people that I love.

Understanding this new concept of home has led me to realize that since leaving Mexico five years ago, I have become a global citizen. I belong everywhere and nowhere at the same time. The world is my home.

Student on a Safari in Kenya. She is smiling into the camera. A giraffe is off in the distance.
"Safari in Kenya, learning more about the importance of taking care of our environment." (Photo credit: Sophia Mares De Juan)

To me, being a global citizen is:

  • understanding that we need to learn how to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. Getting out of our comfort zone is the only thing that will make us more compassionate with others because through being uncomfortable comes understanding and learning about other ways of living.
  • knowing that we travel not only to places, but through people’s life stories. Every interaction we have with someone can change the way we see the world. For this to happen, we must be intentional with our relationships every day. Asking the right questions and listening to others can lead to the most interesting learning experiences and stories.
  • the willingness and curiosity to challenge and learn about the structures that already exist. Everything is made up! As a society, we have created this world. We can construct and deconstruct what we think is necessary for our communities to grow. Empowering others to act and leading by example are keys to structural change.  

We live in a globalized world that does not have enough global citizens. We must understand that our world today is interconnected and what we do in our daily lives affects people in our own countries and other countries as well. Being a global citizen means different things for different people. To me, it is simply understanding that you can find home wherever you go because you understand that the feeling of being home is discovering that this world is so much bigger than yourself.

I have decided that Semester at Sea and any other life-changing experiences should not be the most significant things that happen to me. These experiences should be the catalyst of bigger projects and actions to help make better this complex and wonderful world that we all live in. Act towards what you are passionate about. This world needs more people to take small actions every day to create a better community. It takes all of us!

About the Global Learning Hub at UC Davis

As a part of Global Affairs, the Global Learning Hub aims to inspire global curiosity, understanding, and engagement.

Through the Global Learning Hub, every UC Davis student can find global learning opportunities available on campus, in the region, virtually and internationally. The Hub offers global learning programs, workshops and resources that enhance all UC Davis students’ academic and career pursuits through four broad areas of opportunities: Community Engagement; Global Skills and Leadership; Internships and Research; and Study Abroad. UC Davis is committed to preparing the next generation of global problem solvers and change makers. As such, we aim to prepare our undergraduate, graduate, and professional students to solve global challenges collaboratively, equitably, and sustainably.

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