Dear Friends and Family,
It has been either months or weeks since I last talked to you, but I write to you now from a place much farther from the last. For this fall quarter, I am studying abroad in Madrid, Spain, continuing in my undergraduate study of Spanish. I am actually studying at a school a little out side of Madrid called Carlos III University in the city of Getafe (for those who want to look it up on a map). Similar to my trip to Ocean City, NJ last summer, this is another experience that I want to share with you, so that you might see and hear about not just another culture but also receive a greater perspective on who these beloved people are.
I arrived to Madrid about two and half weeks ago without any details of who or where I would be living, simply an exact destination to go at a certain time. A little sketchy, you might think! The reality was, our first night in Spain was spent in a very comfortable and beautiful Hotel located in the heart of Madrid. As I slowly transitioned to this new culture, the two weeks were compacted with orientation, selection of classes, and the adjustment to a new family. In these adjustments, I am thankful to have a “housemate” who is from UC Berkeley. His name is Thom Tran and we both have enjoyed the time spent together as we have many similar tastes. Currently, I love spending time with my housemate and Spanish family as we laugh, dance, learn, and get lost in translation! My Spanish family consists of Esther (mamí), Natalia (21 year old sister), Emilio (15 year old brother), and Rita (family dog). Emilio is a blast to hang out with, as I have never had a younger brother, so it is awesome wrestling around, playing cards and pulling pranks on each other. Natalia works about six days a week so she will be in and out, but she adds to the laughter as well as a great interpreter of Spanish words that I have never heard. Esther is the divorced mother and retired dietician who spends her days cleaning the house and preparing meals. As depressing as that sounds I have found that to be very common here; which is one aspect of the Spanish culture that saddens me. Many woman are divorced and do not work in a regular 10-2 5-9 hour job (take into account Spanish siesta and lunch).
Besides these cultural changes, my time here has been a very revealing experience to my relationship with Jesus Christ. I have found that it can be super easy to resort to our old selves when placed in an uncomfortable or new environment. The case here being, without that loving and encouraging community of believers in Christ, I felt uncomfortable and I resorted to searching for that acceptance in other unsatisfactory things; something we innately all desire. Even if that community is a new church or a few friends who you see weekly, here in Madrid there are very few true followers of Jesus Christ and many of the other American students in my group really just go out and act crazy. Without knowing where to begin, I now find myself going back to the essentials: the bible and prayer. As common as those two actions sound, sometimes we just need that reminder. In that, I ask for your help; please pray for my time spent with God to be a daily necessity.
I am looking forward to sharing this experience with you and I hope to include some photos in the next letter.
Dios te bendiga (God Bless),
Dear Friends and Family,