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Where in the World is Miami Wednesday: Meet an App Developer at MUDEC

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By Nicole Richards

In this week's Where in the World is Miami Wednesday, we meet Jackson, a sophomore middle childhood education major with focuses in science and social studies and a history minor who is studying abroad at MUDEC this semester. Jackson has been an integral part in creating and developing content for a new app called Spoticle, a travel guide to Europe created for MUDEC students based on recommendations of past MUDEC students.

What program are you on?

Miami University Dolibois Education Center (MUDEC) Spring 2019

What is your favorite part about MUDEC?

The experiences I have gained through traveling across the many countries in Europe, as well as the ability I have had while over here to try new things and redefine who I am as a person. Luxembourg is a great stepping stone as it is super close to a lot of different places, but its greatest aspect is its many extraordinary and tranquil areas where one can self-reflect and grow. I also really enjoy working with the students in Europe, as it is an incredible challenge to figure out how to interact and teach students where your language is in the minority. To elaborate, I cannot speak German nor French. My Spanish is passable at best, but no one speaks that at the International School. I have to rely on my English and my very basic French skills to speak and relate to students, which can be frustrating, but it gives me an experience that will be incredibly beneficial in the US, where many students are learning English and feel like a fish out of water.

How has this study abroad experience changed you so far?

Before coming over to Europe, there was a time when I would describe myself as someone who loves to travel, loves to read, loves to go to concerts, loves to hike and explore, and loves to visit new places on my own and see the lay of the land with no context beforehand. Unfortunately, I was lying. I was nothing like that image. It wasn’t that I wouldn’t enjoy these experiences; it was more that I didn’t have them. I loved the idea of doing these kind of activities, but I had never actually gone through with doing any of it. I said I loved to do all of these things, but if I haven’t actually done them, then how do I really know? I had been outside of the country only once, and I’ve visited maybe five of the fifty states in the US. I’d read a bit every once in a while, but I hadn’t fully read a book for fun in years.

Concerts? I’d been to two in my entire life.

Hiking? I had no idea there were trails on Miami's Oxford Campus, let alone gone on them.

Exploration? Not at all. Most of my days during vacation would be working and then afterwards sitting at home watching Netflix. Not to say that can’t be fun or enriching in its own right, but it’s limiting to one’s view of the outside world. I didn’t do anything with my life.

While I’ve been here, I’ve seen the battlefields of World War I in Ypres, Belgium. I’ve hiked in the mountains of Zürich, Switzerland, and the forests of Echternach, Luxembourg. I’ve seen the Pink Floyd Experience concert in Cromer, England, and I watched a performance of the Tony Award winning musical Man of La Mancha in London. In Prague, I read an entire series of books while waiting for an early morning plane simply because I had to see what happens next. All of this wouldn’t have been possible without this opportunity to redefine myself. Being here forced me to try new things and explore not only this foreign continent but also something much less foreign, myself. Now I feel like a person who is more capable of being the explorer I dream of being.

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About Spoticle

Jackson has been an integral part in the adoption and integration of a new app called Spoticle, which gathers travel recommendations from past MUDEC students in order to provide present and future MUDEC students with a resource on how to navigate Luxembourg and the rest of Europe during their time abroad.

What has been your role with the integration of Spoticle for MUDEC students?

I’ve mostly been an idea guy, a builder of the app, and a promoter to students. I take places that either I or another MUDEC student like and turn them into recommended spots in the Spoticle app. These spots are then organized into guides, usually based around a city that a lot of people go to, that house a number of recommended places by former MUDEC students for current and future MUDEC students. Whenever I think of a useful addition to the app, which may make things more efficient for future users, I work with the people who own and program the app to suggest implementing the change. Throughout this process, I have had a lot of help from Andy Adams, who has worked with Spoticle before I started working with it, and who also equally helps build up the app and comes up with suggestions to better the app in general. As a team, we help to turn what we dream this app to be in the future into a reality.

What is the biggest benefit that you see future students gaining from Spoticle?

Future MUDEC students will always have a guide to Europe made by their predecessors. It’s just like an upperclassman showing a freshman around Oxford for the first time but in a bit wider sense. Future MUDEC students arriving in Europe for the first time won’t have to worry about certain necessities, for example, where the grocery store is nearby their host family’s house, or what kinds of restaurants are good around here, or where the post office is, etc. Students using the Spoticle app will have the knowledge of past years coming together to help new students get a grasp on their surroundings during the tumultuous and scary first few weeks abroad. Spoticle will also be highly useful after the first few weeks when one is trying to figure out places to go in the many places they will explore in Europe. Sure, everyone wants to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but what do you do after you see that? Perhaps go to one of the cafés a previous student recommended or maybe some nice restaurant? Spoticle will help one find places that aren’t just the regular tourist areas, which you can trust to be quality. These recommended places aren’t just some random TripAdvisor recommendation online. These are made by MUDEC students, for MUDEC students.

Anything else about Spoticle you want to share?

Spoticle as a concept is something that will be built over time through the participation of students across generations and class years. Each time we get a recommendation, Spoticle’s database grows, making it a greater tool for people to use in the future. As a result, I would like to call on all MUDEC students, past, present, and future to help me in this endeavor to build a long-lasting tradition through this app. In this phase of development, that would mean sending recommendations to me or Andy Adams, but in the future, it would mean that everyone downloads the Spoticle app and create spots personally. Eventually, this app will be one of the greatest tools in a MUDEC student’s toolbox, and I hope that with everyone’s help, we can make it so.

This is our last Where in the World is Miami Wednesday article of the semester. Good luck with finals, and happy summer term, students!

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Name: Jackson DiCicco

Year: Sophomore

MajorMiddle Childhood Education with focuses in Science and Social Studies

Minor: History

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