By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - While many of his teammates have spent their
summers relaxing, working out or conditioning for the upcoming season,
men's hockey junior David Goodwin spent the first half of his summer studying
in Mexico. The forward, who notched 15 goals during the 2014-15 campaign, found
his niche while taking classes towards his Spanish degree.
Goodwin stayed with a host family, which he said was one of the most
appealing parts about choosing this abroad experience.
"I stayed with a
Mexican family who was only able to speak Spanish," said Goodwin. "It's a
little bit different from other programs where you get to stay in an apartment
or a dorm. I really thought that staying with a Spanish speaking family would
be the best for me to immerse myself in the culture and in the language."
Although his host family hadn't heard of Penn State hockey before they
met Goodwin, they quickly learned about the program. Goodwin taught the family
everything they needed to know about the famed Hockey Valley.
"I don't think they
knew I was on the hockey team, but they definitely figured it out since I wore
a lot of Penn State hockey stuff around the house," said Goodwin. "Eventually I
was showing them videos of our games and they were just in awe. They thought it
was really cool and they're going to try to come up for a game in the next
Goodwin talked about his favorite cultural aspects of his time abroad.
He emphasized that the slower pace of life was what he enjoyed most, especially
when it came to bonding with his host family. Mealtimes in Mexico, Goodwin
learned, were the cornerstone of family interaction, and the time around a meal
is valued as a vital part of a family's relationship.
meals, sitting at the table and just chit chatting in Spanish, in Mexico that's
a big cultural thing called 'sobre la mesa' where you stay at the table
afterwards for an hour, hour and a half, and just talk with each other," said
Goodwin. "That was a great experience for me."
No stranger to
living with host families, Goodwin spent his years in junior hockey, before
playing for Penn State, staying with host families. Goodwin explained that he
felt he had an advantage when it came to getting used to living with a host
family, since he had done it many times before.
"I felt like I definitely had a leg up on the other students that were with me
because this was probably my fifth time kind of going in to a situation where I
was going to be living with a host family who I didn't know before," said
Goodwin. "The first few hours and couple days are a bit awkward but I
definitely felt I was more comfortable because I had done it so many times
Since his time in
Mexico was part of a study abroad experience, Goodwin had the opportunity to
take classes and learn more about Mexican heritage and culture. Goodwin took
two Spanish classes, one on Mexican literature and another on Mexican history.
"I also took an art
class on Mexican art, but that was taught in Spanish so I basically took three
Spanish classes," said Goodwin.
His time learning
and experiencing a new culture didn't confine the All-Big Ten Honorable Mention
hockey player to just a classroom. During his final weekend in Mexico, Goodwin
and others in his study abroad program traveled to the state of Puebla.
While in Puebla,
Goodwin and his fellow students spent a full day at a local school, immersing
him further into a culture he had started to become familiar with. This
experience resonated with Goodwin in a life-changing way.
"We did some
tourist things, but we volunteered at a school for a little over a day," said
Goodwin. "We brought them some food and
worked with the kids in the classroom, talked to the kids a lot, and we played a
lot of soccer at recess. It was pretty powerful, so I was really happy we did
The students at the
school taught Goodwin some new soccer tricks, which he believes will come in
handy by the time the 2015-16 Penn State men's hockey season rolls around.
"When [my teammates
and I] are warming up before the games and we're playing soccer, I'll show them
some of my moves I learned in Mexico," said Goodwin.
Goodwin's time in
Mexico was a transformative experience, both educationally and personally.
Having started out with his own preconceived ideas of the Mexican culture and
peoples, Goodwin quickly learned that not everything he had in his head was a
proper portrayal of such a wonderful country.
that the people he met and lived with, along with the beautiful countryside,
including mountains and waterfalls, have changed how he will forever look at
the country he called home during his summer.
When asked what
aspects of the Spanish culture he would bring back to Penn State, Goodwin
highlighted that the most important things he learned were about prioritizing
time and relationships.
"I think just the
awareness of how other people live in the world, experiencing that there's way
more to life than the material things, there's way more to life than hockey,"
said Goodwin. "To see the joys the families had in each other and spending time
with each other was something that I felt had been lacking in my life in
America, so just bringing back that joy and appreciation for the smaller things
in life I think Americans take for granted."