The People You Meet
So I am supposed to be working on my International Relations research presentation right now (lots of virtual thanks going out to Joan Nyland, Carrie Housley, Matthew Vanneli, and Bruce Magnusson right now for teaching me how to efficiently do a research paper, since it takes me about twice as long to write in Spanish) but as procrastination I thought I would tell you all about something cool that happened to me yesterday:
I went to the mercadillo, an outdoor farmer’s market-type place that also has stalls selling clothes, underwear, Christmas ornaments, sh(though I, miraculously, did not buy any!) and other objects, with Carmela. We were on the hunt for inexpensive gifts that I could take back with me to the States and also to Denmark, where I will be spending Christmas. We had a nice morning trying to find bargains and eating churros covered in sugar. As we were leaving, an older woman stopped Carmela and asked her if I was her daughter. Carmela said that I was her American student, and the other woman replied that she just had to stop us because she saw my hair and glasses and was wondering if I had albinism. Turns out she has a 9-month old granddaughter who was just diagnosed with it, and she said she had been up all night just the night before worrying about her granddaughter’s future. Carmela started rattling on about how “lista” (clever) I am, how I’m studying at the university for the semester and came to Spain alone, and always get 9′s (a little bit of an exaggeration, my Spanish grades are definitely not that good)… The other woman just beamed at me, you could tell she was extremely relieved to see someone capable and successful to represent her granddaughter’s future. It was a short but powerful little encounter that left me feeling reflective about languages and the power of communication (again) and the effect we can all have on the lives of people we’ll never meet..
I am trying to enjoy Spain’s version of fall (thunderstorms in Alicante today and delicious baked vegetables for lunch), even though my friends and I are getting so homesick that last night instead of working on our final projects we baked an apple pie from scratch and then ordered pizza for dinner to be as American as possible. On Thursday, our program directors are taking all 50 students out to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, and never in my life have I been more excited for turkey!
Filed under: Claire Johnson's Study Abroad Blog