Sunday, May 2, 2010

Allowing the rain to pass...

So the rain finally left Sevilla.

Thank the good Lord.

But it was replaced with stifling heat and the blinding sun.

Thank you Helios.

I don’t mind the sun or the heat, but it does make it difficult to focus in class when you’re sitting in a pool of sweat distracted by the lingering scent of body odor. In the United States you wouldn’t have to worry about the body-odor problem thanks to deodorant (well, post sixth grade when both genders actually started using it) but here they don’t believe in deodorant.

Everyone told me that Seville would get hot. I just didn’t realize it would get this hot.

Honestly, in the past two months I’ve experienced polar opposites on the climate graph. It’s like the Amazon Rainforest and the Sahara Desert got together, fell in love, had a child and named it Seville.

I’m a Minnesota/Michigan girl. I like the heat when it’s accompanied by a lake, pool or cookout. Not when I’m walking to my 9am creative writing class.

In my contemporary design class (please don’t ask me about the subject matter of this class, because I’m still not entirely sure) my professor walks in, shuts the windows and closes the blinds so that we can better view his slideshows. No one else seems to mind, everyone in Seville is accustomed to the drastic heat, the suffocating feeling of your throat closing.

But I’m still getting used to it. It’s been a gradual change, my adjustment in becoming more like the Sevillanos.

Unfortunately, one thing I can’t help is that with the blinding sun comes the lightening of the hair. Already, my blonde hair stuck out like a neon sign that screamed “NOT FROM SEVILLE!” but now that neon sign is turning into a billboard above my head.

Which wouldn’t be so bad if said billboard provided a bit of shade every now and then…

But, I would take the Sevillan heat over anything in Michigan right now.

Yes, all my Wolverine classmates have finished exams and moved home, started relaxing or working while I still have 4 more weeks of class. But I can’t imagine not being in Sevilla right now.

There have been points during the semester when I’ve thought about what this semester would have looked like had I stayed in Ann Arbor. I would have taken classes, written at the paper, been involved with other organizations on campus and enjoyed life in Ann Arbor.

It would have been a fun semester, I’m sure of it.

But, instead I’ve been able to see a part of the world in a way that few people ever see any part of the world other than America — I’ve lived here. I’ve been a part of a culture rather than a visitor. And I’ve experienced the lifestyle of a Sevillana rather than just letting it all pass by freely.

This, I am thankful for.

I’m thankful for the daily struggles of trying to learn a new language, trying to understand a different culture and learning more about the people around. All of which have helped me learn about myself.

I always thought, “I need to get out of the Midwest. I’m so sheltered.”

Now I think: I don’t need to get out of the Midwest, I just need to get out of that frame of mind. Maybe I’ll live in China, maybe I’ll raise my kids in Ireland. But maybe I’ll grow old in Minnesota, which I would be perfectly happy with, as long as I do so with the knowledge that there is more to life that what we see out of our front door and there's more to experience that what we watch on the morning news.

When my sisters and I were born, my father gave us each life philosophies. Mine was, and is, “May she discover the wisdom that comes with happiness, and the happiness that comes with wisdom.”

Wisdom isn’t just smarts; it’s experience, sound judgment and clear vision, which this experience has given me.

Yes, the photos are beautiful and the stories are nice, but no matter how much I write or explain, I will never be able to translate this experience into something forthright. Because these kinds of experiences in life aren’t straightforward or simple, they’re difficult. They bring wisdom and happiness, disappointment and sometimes tears, elation and confusion.

And for that, I will take the rain, heat and anything else Sevilla wants to throw at me.

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