Paula I Arraiza

An Encomium to People

Type of progym: Encomium

Personally, I think we can all resonate with Frow’s explanation of nostalgia as a “social disease”, especially during these difficult times.  compares nostalgia with the sense of certain losses including

“the sense of loss of personal wholeness and moral certainty”,

“the sense of loss of individual freedom and autonomy”, and

“the sense of loss of simplicity, personal authenticity, and emotional spontaneity”

While he was talking more about travel, I couldn’t help but relate it back to everyone’s abrupt change due to lifestyle due to Coronavirus. Since March, the world as we know it has completely changed, many might argue for the worse. I know we are all tired of talking about Coronavirus and quarantine and everything of the sort, it’s definitely taken a toll on a lot of people’s mental health. However, we can’t help but long for the life we had before everything dramatically changed. Especially during those first weeks of isolation, it felt like we were living based on past memories. Even though I’m more of an introvert, I found myself missing being around people in every way possible.

I felt like I took every small moment for granted, from bumping into random strangers when walking in the street to eating inside a restaurant with my best friends. Like Frow mentioned, it felt like I had lost my sense of individual freedom and authority, since I was now required, along with basically the entire world, to stay inside my house and stay at least six feet apart from one another. I long for the days where we could all go out and the streets were full of people, all from different walks of life. Even the dreadful task of barely making it inside a packed metro cart during rush hour seems like such a good, joyful memory when I think back on it. Certainly, nothing sounds more fulfilling than being able to have a short conversation with a stranger who you will never cross paths with again. Yet, we’re advised to not get too close to each other and hide our expressions behind a face mask, or we might catch a deadly virus and end up being another fatality.

I surely took all of these simple times for granted, which is something I heavily regret. Going out to somewhere packed where not a single person is wearing a mask seems like a thing of the past, but I still find myself hoping to go back to those times. For now, I can just reminisce about all those nostalgia-filled moments.

Paula I Arraiza

The Beauty in Tourists Attractions

Type of Progym: Proverb

“Ferocious denigration of tourists is in part an attempt to convince oneself that one is not a real tourist”

When traveling, many of us tend to do our best to separate ourselves from other tourists. We long to have the most unique and real experiences and take pride in these once back in our home country. Whether you want to admit it or not, we all take part in this. Whether it be something as simple as avoiding Starbucks and going to a local café for local coffee or exploring underrated sights instead of tourist-filled ones. We love to come back home with a unique story to tell our friends and family. As the author said, we do this to convince ourselves that we are not real tourists, that instead, we lived like locals as much as possible. However, it’s truly impossible to immerse yourself in a country if you’re only in it for a short period of time. There’s nothing wrong with admitting to yourself you’re a tourist and doing “touristy” things. After all, you’re there to explore new sights, and these all don’t have to be completely unknown to other tourists. Yes, there’s something beautiful about having a completely unique experience to other tourists, but we should let them happen on their own instead of looking for them. For example, one of my favorite memories, in general, is going to the Peterhof Palace in Saint Petersburg. While Saint Petersburg is a highly visited city, and the Peterhof Palace is extremely popular, there was still something special about it. While many people, myself included, would hate standing in between thousands of tourists with their maps and selfie sticks, this time I didn’t feel the same way. The architecture was beautiful, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, or the fact that I was in a country so far away from home. Even though we rode the metro and ate at amazing local places where the servers barely spoke English, this is still the memory that stuck with me the most. There’s something amazing about standing in front of a well-known tourist attraction, or “marks” as Culler calls them, and taking it all in for a moment, feeling astonished and grateful for the fact that you made it there.

Paula I Arraiza

An Underrated Type of Tourist

Type of Progym: Refutation

Even though Urry makes some great points in his piece about what he calls the “tourist gaze”, I couldn’t help but find myself disagreeing with some of his arguments. He seems to have a cynical and almost negative opinion about traveling just to see the sights a place has to offer. One of his main points is that

“there has to be something distinctive to be gazed upon, that the signs collected by tourists have to be visually extraordinary.”

Personally, I disagree with this claim. There’s something calming and refreshing about experiences sights that are familiar when traveling. While many tourists do go traveling for “visually extraordinary” sights, I think many tourists enjoy the simple views some places have to offer. However, they tend to be overlooked because the majority do travel with that “tourist gaze” Utter talks about. Yes, sightseeing is extremely fun, but not everywhere we go will offer an out of this world experience, and I think that’s fine. As we’ve already learned, many people go on trips to find themselves. If you travel with the goal of learning more about yourself and looking inward, sightseeing wouldn’t be something you’d be preoccupied with. For many people, traveling is about being able to escape a certain place, no matter where the destination is. For those who travel for themselves and not with sightseeing at the forefront, whether a place is astonishing or not is not important. The extremely overused phrase “it’s about the journey, not about the destination” would be the perfect way to describe this. For many, it’s not about looking at the best views or monuments, it’s about looking at parts of themselves they wouldn’t discover if they wouldn’t have traveled. Urry seems to forget about this type of travelers when speaking about tourists, which does a disservice to them in general since it portrays them all in a bad light.

Paula I Arraiza

How to Analyze an Image

Type of Progym: Confirmation


In “Breaking Down an Image”, Sheffield does exactly what the title of the article states, she breaks down an image. The author uses a picture from a watch advertisement to explain various rhetorical elements that are commonly used with images. She lists various elements that are helpful when analyzing an image. Many of these elements are somewhat self-explanatory, such as figuring out the purpose, audience, and context of the image. However, other elements she mentions are things we wouldn’t usually think twice about. For example, she mentions the placement and size of details are important since something more important could be a larger component of the picture than something than isn’t as important. Similarly, to what Cohn mentioned in last week’s reading, the color and size of the font used can also be important when analyzing an image. In short, Sheffield tells is guiding us to focus on the small details we wouldn’t think twice about when analyzing an image since the creator of said image did everything with a specific purpose. Her advice and explanation of specific elements would definitely come in helpful when examining or creating an image.

Paula I Arraiza

The Solitude of Traveling

Edward Hopper, Morning Sun (1952)

Progymn: Impersonation

 “His figures look as though they’re far from home, they’re in search of work, sex, or company, adrift in transient places. And, yet, they seem to hint that there might be something consoling, glamorous, sexy, even, in traveling alone. Far from home, in the road to nowhere in particular” (de Bottom 30:49)

It’s the first time in my entire life I’ve had the courage to go somewhere by myself. The road took me to this big, wide, city where I don’t know a soul. It’s all so new and different, so exciting yet nerve-wracking. I look outside the window as a slideshow of old memories replays in my mind. All of my friends, family, and happiest moments echo inside of my head as I sit on a bed inside a nearly empty hotel room. I left everything I knew behind for a quick break from reality, wanting to get in touch with myself. I ended up somewhere where no one knew my name. I’ve been alone with my thoughts for the first time in forever, making me feel as if I don’t know myself anymore. I’m not the same person I was a few days ago and will never be her again. In a city full of strangers, it feels like I am the biggest stranger of them all. I came here with one goal, and that is to find myself. I’ve barely even been here, and I have already discovered more about myself than I had during my entire life. As the hours pass while I look out into hundreds of skyscrapers, I slowly begin to understand myself. I realize there is no way I’ll go back home being the same person I left.


I decided to do an impersonation of the woman in Hopper’s paintings, based on de Bottom’s description of his style of painting. I tried to capture what I felt when looking at the image and made a story to go along with it. When looking at the woman in the painting, it feels as if she’s staring out into the city with hope and excitement, yet there is still a sense of nostalgia involved in the picture. These feelings evoked by the image inspired me to write a short description from her point of view, basically writing what I feel like she would be thinking as staring outside that window.



Paula I Arraiza

Is City Living Worth It?

Type of Progym: Commonplace

Nowadays many people long for that fast-paced city-like lifestyle. It seems like young people, especially, dream of living in a metropolis such as New York or London.  Granted, I myself have always fantasized about living a busy life in a city where you’re less than likely to pass by the same person twice and the opportunities are endless. When fantasizing about city living, we tend to forget the loneliness and anxiety that comes with this type of lifestyle. This is exactly why Murray believed in nature-filled travel. It’s a way to get outside of the stressful urban life and ground yourself.

“Murray argued that American cities were disease-ridden and filled with pressures that created “an intense, unnatural and often fatal tension” in their unhappy denizens.”

Those who live in big cities live too preoccupied, always worrying about the next time and trying to be one step ahead. If you’ve ever been to a city like New York or Chicago, you’ll notice someone might bump into you accidentally and keep going as if nothing happened. Most residents live in their own little bubble, barely paying attention to their surroundings. Many of them live a very stagnant, routine-based life, which makes you lose focus and appreciation on the little things in life. I’m not trying to say everyone who resides in a major city lives like this, but it’s definitely common. Yes, living in such a place does have many wonderful benefits, but many people tend to over-romanticize this lifestyle, forgetting all consequences it comes with. Especially, living too preoccupied to focus on the small details that make us happy.

Paula I Arraiza

Being a Foreigner at Home

Type of Progym: Chreia/Anecdote

Iyer’s article, The Foreign Spell, mostly talks about how no matter how much time we spend in a country that isn’t our home, we will never get to know it and understand it as much as a local in said country. He uses anecdotes from his own travel experiences, sharing stories from trips to Bali to living in Japan for more than twenty years, to help us understand his claim that we’ll never truly know a place unless we’re from that place. Iyer uses these anecdotes to teach us about how traveling should be about embracing the unknown. He concludes his article by saying that

“It’s a blessing to be a foreigner everywhere, detached and able to see the fun in things.”

Iyer believes that being a foreigner is a good thing since it gives you a different perspective on the place you’re at. Even if you’re not from a place that is heavily visited by tourists, like New York or Los Angeles, we sometimes tend to forget the beauty of the place we live in. This is because we’re so used to having certain things close to us that we take them for granted.

 I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of taking my home country for granted. Growing up in Puerto Rico, it’s easy to become somewhat desensitized to the beautiful sights around you, or the year-round tropical weather. I never understood the beauty this island has to offer until I moved away, and the beach was no longer a five-minute car ride away, or I had to wear layers of clothing to keep myself somewhat warm. If someone asked me a year ago if Puerto Rico was worth visiting, I’d tell them there’s nothing worth seeing here, and they should rather go somewhere else. I hated the place I spent basically ninety-nine percent of my life in because I had become so used to all the exotic sights around me. This hate of my country got to the point where I would cry every time I boarded a plane to go back home, it would frustrate me to have to go back to what I considered to be such a boring place. There was nothing I hated more than spending a weekend away at the beach, which sounds completely crazy when you hear it. It wasn’t until I spent time away that I came to realize the privilege I had of living in the middle of a tourist destination. When coming back for winter break during my freshman year of college, I was so excited to experience all the things I hated about my hometown before. For the first time in years, I didn’t cry on the plane to Puerto Rico, I felt the same type of excitement you feel the night before a big trip. I spent the two weeks I was at home going to the beach nearly every day and enjoying the weather I so badly wanted to get away with. I experienced first-hand what Iyer mentioned. Coming back made me feel like I was a tourist, I began to be excited about things that had always been there, taking pictures and Instagramming every chance I got. Even though I wasn’t technically in a completely foreign place, going away for an extended period made me feel like a foreigner in my home once I came back. It gave me a different perspective of the island I grew up in and helped me learn to love it instead of hating it. I had grown to be so accustomed to certain things that I forgot how lucky I was, and moving away made me able to detach myself and see the fun in my hometown, just like Iyer mentions happens when you visit somewhere new.

Paula I Arraiza

A Love Letter to Traveling

Type of Progym: Encomium

In his piece Why We Travel, Iyer focuses on describing to us the reason why many people travel, or why you should travel. He praises the act of traveling, describing it as a way to both lose and find yourself. Throughout the article, he gives various reasons as to why some of us travel, all of them being positive. In other words, he praises the act of traveling. For example, he states,

“You can teach them what they have to celebrate as much as you celebrate what they have to teach”.

Iyer is stating that traveling gives us the chance to not only celebrate different cultures but have others celebrate our cultures as well. Not only do we learn about the culture we immerse ourselves in when traveling, but we are also teaching those around us about our home culture, which they may not know about. Basically, he calls traveling an educational experience for both parties involved. On a similar note, he states that travel

“guides us toward a better balance of wisdom and compassion of seeing the world clearly, and yet feeling it truly.”

When traveling, we see the world in a different light, since we are constantly learning and experiencing things we wouldn’t if we were stuck at home. Iyer definitely believes that travel opens up your mind and changes your perspective. Perhaps the highest praise he does in his article is comparing the emotions traveling brings to us to the emotion of being in love. When talking about traveling and comparing it to love, he mentions,

“For if every true love affair can feel like a journey to a foreign country, where you can’t quite speak the language, and you don’t know where you’re going, and you’re pulled ever deeper into the inviting darkness, every trip to a foreign country can be a love affair, where you’re left puzzling over who you are and whom you’ve fallen in love with.”

Both traveling and being in love gives you that sense of excitement for the unknown. Iyer compares them both to a

“heightened state of awareness, in which we are (…) ready to be transformed”.

This ties into his past claims, since learning and experiencing different cultures and places while traveling definitely transforms us as a person. All in all, Iyer definitely believes traveling is one of the best experiences you can give yourself, which is why he praises it highly during this article.

Paula I Arraiza

Description Progymnasmata

Type of progym: Description

“The whole scene had an indefinable look of being painted, the colour was so abstract and correct, and there was something so sketchy and merely impressional about these distant single trees on the horizon that one was forced to think of it all as of a clever French landscape” (3)

There’s no feeling quite like seeing the colors of leaves changing from bright forest green to golden and burnt orange for the first time. As someone who has lived on a tropical island for her entire life, the moment I first saw a fall landscape will forever be one of my favorite memories. After being stuck inside studying for midterms for an entire weekend, I had almost forgotten what a whiff of fresh air felt like. When I went outside to go into the city to relax after the stress of back to back tests, I was heavily surprised. It felt like everything I was used to had changed within a mere couple of days. The air was colder than what I had felt in years, I felt like I could see my breath even though it wasn’t nearly as cold. The sun was out, yet somehow it wasn’t shining with the golden rays I was used to seeing and feeling on my skin. As I embarked on my journey from Tenleytown to the National Mall, everything around me felt different. I felt this sense of nostalgia I had never felt before since it was something I had never experienced. The ambiance of the day felt like it matched my mood perfectly, relaxed, hopeful yet somehow sentimental. When I sat down in front of the overpriced food trucks filled with tourists having a bite before hopping over to the next museum, I looked up at the sky and noticed it looked monotone and dull, filled with shades of grey instead of the usual bright blue sky I was used to seeing. It was the perfect contrast to the bright yellow and red leaves that filled up the mile length trees circulating the Mall. During a thirty-minute walk from the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum to Capitol Hill, I couldn’t help but be in awe of the beautiful scenery in front of me. I felt like I was living in the midst of Taylor Swift’s Red album, which was blaring in my headphones as I crossed the beautiful city that felt more like home than any other place I’ve been into. With the roman inspired architecture around me contrasted by colors, I had never seen before in nature, for the first time I felt like I was right where I was supposed to be, and never wanted to leave.