Hola a todos!
So I’m here, safe and sound! And life is good.
It’s been a whirlwind of a three days. Today I tried to write the date but I didn’t know what day it was… I thought for sure it’d be like the 30th by now. We’ve seen a lot, walked a lot, and learned a lot in such a short time. I suppose that’s typical for culture shock, and it’s happened in a similar manner at the beginning of both my summer projects. But It’s definitely still tiring. 🙂
I’ll try and be concise with my updating… but with the mood I’m in I can tell this won’t be very sophisticated. I can feel my english grammar skillz getting shakier by the minute! It’s weird how that works. My head is currently a little confused. For one, not only because of the words you use but because of the syntax. They say things backwards or in a more straightforward manner. Also, I’m understanding and speaking Spanish better and better, but my brain isn’t sure whether I should think in Spanish or English. And most of us are speaking to each other in Spanish now, but there are some things that we don’t know how to say yet, or it just takes too long to figure it all out. So we’ve been cheating a bit (a lot) so far, when we get tired. But classes haven’t even started yet! I get the feeling they’ll crack down tomorrow and make us speak Spanish todo el día. But regardless, it’s even harder now to make myself think and write in English for this post. It might be kind of stream-of-consciousness… Bear with me 🙂
When we arrived in Madrid, the group gathered in the airport where we met our directors (Luis y Fernando). Right away it was todo en español. Haha. Some people are easier to understand than others. Fernando has a thick accent and a low voice. He’s harder to understand. But I can understand most of what Luis says. They talked to us a lot while we were on the bus from Madrid to Segovia, and well, that was overwhelming. It’s hard to hear on a bus as it is!
Our host families picked us up from the aquaduct in Segovia. My host mom’s name is Isis. She’s a short little 70-something old lady, and she’s so cute. She’s really active, and in great health for her age! She talks a little slower than other people and is easier to understand also. We live in an old apartment-like house about 3 minutes from the aquaduct, which is nice. I’ll post pics of the inside of the house. It’s an old house, so it’s small. I think it’s cute, though. She has two grandchildren, José and Silvia. José is 20 and studying to be a cop, and Silvia is in high school or “bachillerato,” and she is 16. I can’t say bachillerato very well (there’s like a T sound in the double L?) and she makes fun of me haha… I told her she’s just like MY 16 year old sister… sassy. lol But reallyyyy.. she’s sassy. I can’t understand what she says most the time because she talks so fast, but she says it with attitude. She lives with us during the week, because she goes to school near the city center and her family lives on the outskirts of Segovia. She and José are there a lot. They’re really fun, because they get sarcasm and stuff while Isis doesn’t.
Speaking of the younger generation, they watch our tv shows and they listen to our music. The tv shows are in Spanish, but the other night when Silvia was doing homework, I heard her listening to Rihanna. She said she likes American music better than Spanish music because “all of the Spanish songs are sad.” Also, in Madrid the mixing of cultures was even more apparent. There were a few Starbucks’ and there were people in the plazas dressed up like Spongebob, Spiderman, Hello Kitty, Cookie Monster, ect. Just really interesting.
The first day we just got situated in our new homes and slept a little, and then met at 4:30 to see a little of the city center and our center for studying. We just call it “el centro” and that’s what I’ll call it here on my blog haha 😉
Friday some of us met up after breakfast (desayuno) and explored. We went home for lunch (comida) and Isis’ daughter and husband (parents of José and Silvia) came to join us. THAT was one of the highlights of the weekend. Lively doesn’t even begin to describe. All of them were so funny, talking so fast and talking over each other, giving each other a hard time, Silvia with her attitude. It was really hard to keep up but they told us not to worry, that we’ll be able to understand in due time. They keep telling Kiersten (my roommate) and I that we speak well for it being the first few days. They are encouraging. P.s. some people here have a hard time saying my name. Kiersten has just been going by “Christina” and when Yolanda tried to say my name it was too hard, so she just christened me, “Chon.” I was like “nooooo sueno como ‘John!'” But she didn’t get it and just proceeded to explain the concept of nickname, so I gave up. Guess they’ll just call me Chon. After lunch we all met up for a legitimate tour with the directors. It was funny because the directors took us on literally the same exact route we took that morning. We hadn’t even known what we were doing. So, we saw the same stuff twice on Friday. 🙂
Saturday we got on a bus at 9am and went to Madrid.
Fernando gave us a little tour until 1:30 and then let us do what we wanted. Literally, it was 50 or 60 degrees out by midday. I was walking around in a t-shirt! My host mom said the weather right now isn’t normally so back-and-forth, but I said when you live in the midwest you’re used to it 🙂
We walked around el Parque del Retiro, and saw the Palacio de Cristal, which was my favorite part I think. It’s made out of glass and the only way I can explain it is when you’re inside you feel like you’re in a huge birdcage.
We went back to a huge market that we’d seen in our overview with Fernando, to relax and try the sangría. The market was fun but expensive because it’s a tourist attraction I think. Then we shopped some of the shops with “rebajas,” but by that time we were exhausted haha. I think that’s when we gave up a little and started letting ourselves speak English 🙂 There was a guy in one of the shops… (“tiendas”… might as well try and teach y’all a little Spanish along the way)…. there was a guy who ran a tienda who was from Egypt, but his wife is from Oregon and now they live in Madrid. He speaks English, Arabic, and Spanish. So we talked to him for a while, but my brain REALLY got confused with him because he understood English better than Spanish, but he had an accent so I kept accidentally speaking Spanish to him. It sounded something like “como te..your name, I mean, te llamas, I mean, umm vale do you speak English or Spanish mejor?” lol. He was really nice and I guess he was bored because he kept asking questions, and Melinda and I talked to him for like 15 minutes. (And, you know. Harmless questions. Not like, “what’s your social security number.” I knew you were wondering. 😛 I’m too careful to give away information, no les preocupáis.) We took the 8:30pm bus back and we were basically so tired we were delirious. When I get tired I tend filter things less, and then add that to being language-confused… I’m sure you can imagine 🙂 Spanglish to the max.
When we got home our host mom made us a tortilla patata. Or at least, I think that’s what she called it. It was basically a flat quiche. We eat SOO late here. I knew that’s how it was, but I didn’t expect to dislike it. We were extremely tired, but then you eat and try to use your brain to understand what your host mom is saying in Spanish, and then when it’s time to go to bed you can’t sleep… the food fueled you again and you had to wake up your brain to speak in Spanish, you know? Haha. It’s okay though, just different.
Honestly I’m surprised that I’m making such a great transition… usually there are a few bumps and maybe tears when I make a huge transition but I am literally SO fine. There are frustrations, but they don’t pile up on me like I would expect. Like, my room is freezing, and because of that I haven’t been sleeping well (I’m not one of those people that likes sleeping in the cold :P). There’s no way to really organize my clothes, and there’s no way to dry or straighten my hair. My skin is reacting weird to the changes, not hives or anything, just like teeny bumps every here and there. Probably just dry skin, because the air is dry… My legs hurt from walking so much. The laungage barrier and all the tiny cultural differences are definitely frustrating, everything is different, and my brain is tired. You’d think I’d be at least a little bit irritable, but all that, and I am still SO fine. Maybe moving so much and going on two summer projects is paying off 🙂 Or.. it just hasn’t hit me yet. Or… God is just answering my prayers for strength. I mean, probably that. 🙂 I also felt really prepared spiritually to be here, and have been able to keep a good perspective (thank you, sermon series on perspective at Heartland Church!). Also, so many of you at home tell me you’re praying for me. It’s crazy and I don’t understand why I have such good and faithful friends. Praise God, He is so good to me.
Speaking of the Lord, two other friends and I went to an awesome church this morning. Why it’s great: 1) it started at 11:45. More time for sleep! 2) The people there were sooo nice, and (since we are so obviously American) during the announcements at the end they had us stand up and introduce ourselves. Everyone was very welcoming and said to come back. 3) The sermon and songs were full of truth. The church’s doctrine is right-on. They love Jesus! It’s good to know that we’ll be able to get good teaching every weekend 🙂
Today all we did was go to church, eat, and then some of us met at a cafe to blog and do some prep before classes tomorrow. And that’s where I am now 🙂
Hopefully now I’ll be able to get to wifi with my computer more often, since classes are starting, and I’ll be able to blog more and in a more advanced fashion. 🙂 I know it’s more interesting to include more pictures and specific stories, but today I just dumped my first three days in here. If you read the whole thing, thanks! You probably love me. Haha
I really am blown away by how much love you all have shown me, and I am thanking God every day for such a wonderful support system back home. One thing that you realize when you go to such a strange place is how much you appreciate the people that know and understand you. Even these students in the group who are from Kentucky have a slightly different culture than I do! 🙂 Even if Muncie-indianer and Naptown aren’t my favorite places in the world, y’all get it more than anyone else ever will. And that’s kind of cool.
Prayer requests: Continued strength during the adjustment.. I know it’s not like this for my own comfort. This way, I get to be strong and support the other students who aren’t handling it so well. Pray for them, too. Most people in the group are reacting normally (aka a little homesick). Pray for school, which starts tomorrow. It might be a little overwhelming at first. Todo en Español is fine in small doses, but a whole hour and 4o mins twice a day might be different. Pray for my growth in the language, and that I would not give up but push myself to speak Spanish with people in my group. This first weekend I’m letting myself have breaks but it doesn’t do anything for my conversation skills. Pray for continued safety, because it’s definitely hard to tell who you can trust sometimes. Not that I’m going around talking to strangers, but I’d like to make friends here and literally everyone is nice. Y’know? Like, even the strangers you do talk to are sooo nice. You wonder who’s faking and who’s genuine haha. 🙂 Pray that I would continue to commit myself to the Lord and his agenda first and foremost, because I can tell it could be easy to make this trip only about me and enjoyment, but it’s not about only that. I know that if I trust the Lord with my time here, the experience will be so much cooler.
Thanks again for your prayers, and know that I miss you all! If you are reading this and you’re one of the people who left me a recording at the Abrode party, ahh you are so sweet. I haven’t listened to any except for the first (Cait, I love you)… I’m gonna try and space them out.
Dios les bendigan, lots of love.