Smile and “Vale”

Written by Christa Walker. She is a senior Texas A&M Psychology major who should have been an English major as well! She loves mountains, learning, reading, adventures with friends, and having thoughtful conversations, especially about literature. Check out thisjoyfulwalk.blogspot.com for more of her posts!

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Hello Friends!

I’ve been in Sevilla, Spain for a little over a week now, and I am finally starting to get used to all the rhythms of Spanish life.

It’s been interesting adjusting to Spanish life. First of all, Spaniards walk everywhere – to school, to work, the market, wherever. Since I don’t want to pay for a taxi or metro, I walk almost everywhere too. There have been several days that I have walked 8 miles or more… which is probably good because the main food groups here are bread, ham, potatoes, more ham, and more bread.

In the morning, Nina and I have breakfast at 8am and it’s always the same thing – tostada (toast) with mantequilla y fresa (butter and strawberry jam), coffee, and water. At first it seemed like so little, but my simple Spanish breakfasts have grown on me! It takes me about 25-30 minutes to walk to school, so I leave for my 9am class at 8:25. At that time of day it is cool and the walk is nice (if I’m not running late). I also see everyone else walking or biking to school and work; the streets are relatively uncrowded. My first class is Spanish Culture and Civilization (in Spanish!) and my second class is Advanced Spanish Language and Grammar. I’m still amazed and excited that I can somehow understand enough Spanish to take 2 classes entirely in Spanish. My speaking is improving at a slower rate, but it is so neat to be able to understand enough spoken Spanish to understand what is going on.

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In between classes I often go to a nearby café where I can get a café con leche for 1.10 € to tide my growling tummy over until 2:30 pm when we have lunch at home. I’m slowly getting used to being hungry for hours before walking back home for lunch, as the Spanish do.  Fortunately, my host mom Yolanda cooks great food that is worth waiting for! Our main course is always rich and delicious, and for dessert we have seasonal fruits that are so juicy and sweet. After lunch, we have a siesta, or time of rest, and Nina and I usually take a short nap. We have spare time until dinner, which is at 9:30pm and consists of a much smaller but still delicious meal. Some nights I go and spend time with friends late, which is normal for the Spanish. I’ve heard that it’s not unusual for young people to stay out at bars and clubs until 5 or 6am- but that is too late for me!

I still get lost and turned around, but I’m starting to learn where everything is. Because everyone walks everywhere, it’s perfectly safe to walk by yourself during the day. Even if I get lost, I feel safe, and it’s nice to have the freedom to wander independently and be lost without having to worry about safety. A few things have been a little harder to get used to, like using less air conditioning and electricity and water, because all are very expensive here.  At the same time I am convicted of the way that I waste so many resources at home. It has definitely been eye opening to see how another part of the world lives.

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This weekend, I had a retreat with the other girls from Veritas, a division of my study abroad program that connects students with full-time missionaries. We spent the weekend at the house of the Owens, who have lived in Spain for 25 years and have lived at their current house for 2.5 years. They are involved with an evangelical church here in Sevilla, and right now they are working on building friendships and trust with their Spanish neighbors as they teach English classes. They hope that someday they can have intentional conversations with their neighbors and eventually start a Bible study. Additionally, they are passionate about using education to facilitate the spread of the Gospel, and they are currently working to raise funds to build a Christian school where they will be able to offer a full range of courses.

We started the retreat with a prayer meeting where I got to hear Spanish believers lift up prayers to the Lord for his continued provision and work in the lives of other Spaniards. We worshiped together, and during the first song I found myself crying as we sang “Santo, Santo, Santo,” or Holy, Holy, Holy.It hit me very suddenly when we sang those words that even though we are separated by distance and culture, we are the body of Christ and someday in Heaven we will all proclaim that Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty! I think I was also crying because it was such a relief to be part of a community of believers again. I didn’t realize how starved I was for community until we started worshipping the Lord. Oh, what a joy to worship God together! He gave me such sweet rest for my soul during that meeting.

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On that same Friday, July 3rd, we got to help the Owens host an American Independence Day party for their Spanish neighbors, and it was so much fun! We had American style tapas (small plates of food Spaniards often eat for dinner) like pigs in a blanket and 7-layer chip dip, and at midnight we got to light sparklers and sing the National Anthem. I had such a fun time laughing and talking with other Spaniards in a hilarious molding of cultures. The Owens were worried that no one would show up, but the Lord did so much that night – they had several more people sign up for English classes, and this was the first time that their neighbors helped clean up – a sign that they owned it as something they were part of and responsible for.

There has been a lot to adjust to so far, but I have really enjoyed it! These Spanish adventures of mine are beyond memorable and I am excited for them to continue!

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