SamanthaParedesSamantha ParedesWednesday, Aug. 10

I managed to snag a computer here in Vicar (I’m currently in Roquetas de Mar working with immigrants) so I’ll try to write a little bit right now. I can’t say how often I’ll be able to access computers, but I’ll do my best 🙂 It’s hard to believe, but I’ve only been gone for six days. SIX DAYS. And yet life seems so turned around.
Last Thursday, about 20 of us from Marquette flew out of O’Hare airport and landed in Bilbao, Spain. We had a layover in Germany and, while we didn’s actually get to explore anything outside of the airport, it was really interesting to just simply observe Germans going about their business. For one thing, the airport was significantly quieter and calmer than any airport in the United States. They didn’t have any background music playing, either. But the first important realization I made on this trip took place in Germany, before we even boarded the plan that would land in Spain: To the rest of the world, I am the one with the accent, not the Germans or Spaniards. And this realization was important because it taught me from the get-go that my perspective is not central; the rest of the world does not see things the way I do and the rest of the world does not revolve around me, nor does it revolve around American culture. Food for thought on a layover? Definitely.
To sum up the past five days so far in a nutshell (since I only have ten minutes left on this computer), it’s been an immersion experience unlike any other. On one hand, we’re placed amidst the Spanish culture. Spanish is the primary language, we follow the Spanish schedule for food (and let me tell you, dinner past 9 o’clock in the evening can be a struggle if you’re hungry!), and we run on military time and the metric system. On the other hand, I’ve learned so much about other parts of the world. While in Loyola, I made some great friends from Singapore and Austria. Now that I’m in Vicar, I’m living with not only eight other Americans, but more than 15 other Spaniards and Mauritians as well, and it’s been a blast. We have communal showers, hand wash our clothes, and sleep on the floor of the gym, but within our small community there’s only joy, and it’s a joy unlike any other I’ve ever experienced. This morning the Mauritians taught us dances and songs in French. Before lunch, the Spaniards played some music and we danced. Simple living with strangers does not mean that anything is missing; if anything, it gives us that much more because we can truly appreciate each other for our hearts, for the people that God created us to be. And for that, I am truly grateful. I’ll update you more later on our time in Loyola and the situation the immigrants here are facing, but for now, just know that all is well in Spain.
With sincere peace and love,