Bike Bells and Finding Home

Quick vocal lesson before moving into the main part of today’s longwinded post:

One of my favourite parts of being here is constantly learning new phrases and improving my vocabulary. The thing with classes in the U.S. is that they’re designed to teach you what has the most utility, what we are going to use the most often. Which is great, but you don’t learn fun words that way.

For example, I’ve learned that “gold leaf” in Spanish is pan de oro.

To say that someone is your other half, you call him your media naranja, which is literally your “half an orange.” (It makes sense if you think about it and I think it’s absolutely precious).

“Meatballs” are NOT “pelotas de carne” (the direct translation). Rather they are albondigas.

I’ve also learned that resaca means “hungover” and has been very useful (HAHA JK MOM AND DAD).

I have several pages in a journal full of words I’ve learned upon arrival.

However, upon said arrival I realized immediately that my classes at the university did not prepare me at all for actually having to be immersed in the language. Really though I only now fully understand the inadequacy of university language classes regardless of the level.

I’ve learned more in a week than I’ve learned in 2.5 years at the university. That’s not meant as an indictment of my university in the slightest. Rather, it’s an indictment of a national system that has the audacity and sheer nerve to believe that any person can get a degree and be labeled “knowledgeable” of a language and various cultures without ever having traveled to any one of the cultures for any length of time.

I seriously can’t believe that I might have been one of a legion of students doing just that had I not been bitten with the travel bug.

This experience has been the best of my life (sorry guys, I’ve delved into “Stereotypical Study Abroad Blog” territory. Leaving now).

Yesterday marked one month since I got off the plane in Madrid.

Here’s the thing, I could’ve learned those words at the beginning of this post while sitting in a classroom. I could’ve been curious one day and looked them up.

However, then I would not be able to tell you that even coming from Indiana, 50F would still seem freezing cold here.

I would not be able to tell you that the view of the river and the casual kayakers from the bridge would fill me with more wonder and awe than the Cathedral.

Sorry no kayakers in this one
Sorry no kayakers in this one

I would not be able to tell you that coffee is, indeed, a way of life here and I would subsequently re-teach my taste buds to like it.

I would not be able to tell you that the bike paths would be hard to see at times, and bike bells would fill me with annoyance and complete terror.

I would not be able to tell you that the orange trees here are overwhelming and the smell when the sun is out would actually be kind of gross.

I would not be able to tell you that walking 30 minutes to class would seem like nothing after a few days.

I would not be able to tell you that Spanish señoras would be just as likely to exclaim “Qué horror!” at political financial scams (Looking at you, Barcenas and Juan Carlos Monedero) as at backless dresses during Spain’s version of the Oscars.

I would not be able to tell you that being in Spain in an election year with a brand-new political party on the rise (with a pony-tailed leader—Pablo Iglesias) would be one of the most fascinating parts of this experience despite my long-standing abhorrence of politics.

I would not be able to tell you the simple happiness a table with a space heater underneath would bring me.

I would not be able to tell you that it would take 4,000 miles to teach me that I love my friends and family, but I can survive without them.

I would not be able to tell you that those 4,000 miles have made me more self-confident than ever before.

I would not be able to tell you that 4,000 miles away from home, I’d find another.

Melodramatic thoughts have no place here. Those such as, “It’s like I’ve lived here my entire life omg!” are simply not true and would be an insult to actual sevillanos.

But this is home for six months, which simultaneously feels like a blink and an eternity rolled together, both a whirlwind and slow-motion video of experiences.

This is where my heart has been living for several years in my daydreams (when it wasn’t time-sharing with my beloved Mexico), and now my body has finally caught up to it.

Home is where the heart is.

And while a tiny piece of my heart is back in Indy, most of it is here, here among the orange trees, those obnoxious bike bells, and the sounds of a language that isn’t my own, but I love all the same.


One thought on “Bike Bells and Finding Home

  1. Sis

    We learn to love the good as well as the bad (meatballs as well as smelly orange trees) because God has a lesson in each one for us. If we learn to appreciate everything Our Father has set before us, then we gain the most out of the life He has blessed us with. The smelly orange trees may be an injury to oneself or loss of a loved one in the future. And God can still use that. He works all things together for good to those that love God. Romans 8:28. LOVE hearing about your experiences. :o) But I love Becky Ann even more. ::huggles::

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