Ariana Winbush

Garden of Kings by Ariana Winbush

Ariana Winbush is a senior majoring in English and Spanish with a minor in Public Policy. Ariana studied abroad on the Global May Spain program in 2023. A photo she took during her program, Garden of Kings, was awarded Best in Show in the 2023 International Photography Contest. 

Studying abroad was the first time I've ever left the country. With that being said, I really had no idea what to expect. Upon my arrival, I fell instantly in love with Madrid. One of the things that I found the most surprising was the pace at which they live their daily life.  Not only does life move so much faster there, but a typical day in Madrid looks very different than what I was accustomed to here in Ohio. For starters, lunch is the biggest meal of the day, and it is a time for friends and family to get together and catch up. Whereas dinner is a much smaller meal and does not happen until 9 or sometimes 10 pm. While I adjusted to this pace quickly, I grew to love it even quicker. 

As a first-generation college student, studying abroad was never something that I saw in the cards for myself. However, after hearing about all of the programs Ohio State had to offer, I knew that I wanted to study abroad before I graduated. I will never forget at lunch at a cafe in Sol thinking to myself "I really did it." I made it a goal to study abroad and I worked extremely hard to make it happen, and it did. It was then I realized that I am capable of anything I set my mind to. The world has SO much to offer, and when you set your mind to it, you literally have the world at your fingertips. While abroad, I passed a street sign that read "Todo lo que puedes imaginar es real" (everything you can imagine is real). This is a quote from Pablo Picasso that at the beginning of my trip, was just a cute little saying. However, by the end of my trip, it became a mentality. I even went as far as getting it tattooed on my arm. I truly believe that anything I can imagine can become my reality. 

Every day I spent in Spain was another memory made and another experience gained. Of all of the memories I made, there is one particular memory that sticks out in my mind. My favorite memory was the trip we took to the Prado Museum. I have always been an art lover and enjoyed going to museums. However, Prado was an entire world of its own. I mean the art there was truly breathtaking. I have never felt such emotion while looking at art. I was in the presence of artwork created by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Francisco Goya and Diego Velázquez. It is something everyone should be able to experience at some point in their life. I honestly cannot put into words just how amazing it was to walk down the halls and marvel at the centuries worth of artwork they held. 

As I mentioned earlier, this was my first time leaving the country. I took photos of everything I saw. I wanted to remember it all. The day that I took my photo ("Garden of Kings") was actually street art day. We were being given a tour of the neighborhood of Lavapiés, an area known for its graffiti and street art. It is important to mention that Lavapiés has become extremely gentrified and many of the residents have been driven out due to the increased cost of living. Well, in one particular area, the residents have come together to form and maintain a community garden. This garden acts as a safe space for everyone. It is incredibly beautiful, and its beauty is amplified when you see just how hard the people of the community work to maintain their space.

One of the features of this garden is a table with several chess boards. People come here and spend hours playing, teaching, and learning the game. The day I took my photo was no exception. As I was walking around the silent garden taking everything in, I saw the gentlemen playing chess and made my way over to them. My younger brother was actually my inspiration for the photo, as he loves to play chess and I thought he would find the moment so cool. I did not set out looking for "the perfect picture," I was simply taking pictures of moments that felt perfect. I snapped a few photos and let the men play in peace. It was not until I got home and was looking at my photos from the day that I saw the photo I had taken. Unlike many of the photos I had taken on my trip, I felt that this photo truly captured the beauty of the moment that I experienced. I knew instantly that I wanted to share this photo and set a reminder on my phone to submit my photo to the competition once it began accepting submissions. And the rest is history.