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A Series of (Un)fortunate Events

A Series of (Un)fortunate Events

Spain has been home for almost two weeks, and in this past week I have been hit with more bad luck than I imagined would happen in the whole semester. I like to consider myself a generally prepared and organized person, but despite all of my preparation for the semester, everything seemed to go wrong this past week.

I thought it was bad getting sick in Chicago while my mom was 3.5 hours away in Michigan, but that was nothing compared to getting sick in Spain, with my family being over 4,000 miles away. We arrived in Salamanca on Sunday evening, and Monday was spent taking our placement exams and exploring the city. Salamanca is beautiful, especially the Plaza Mayor at night. My classes started at noon on Tuesday, and I decided I was going to wake up early so that I could eat breakfast and relax a little bit before going to class. When I woke up though, I felt as though I had been run over by a train. My muscles ached, my throat was aggressively sore, and I had a splitting headache. I popped a few dayquil, had some tea with breakfast, and assumed that this was just my body being upset with me for being out a little late the night before. Being in class was miserable– I could barely keep my eyes open and my body hurt so badly that I wasn’t able to focus at all.

I am living with a host family this semester: my parent’s names are Gloria and Jonas, and it is the three of us living together in an apartment. Neither of them speak English, which has been so amazing for my Spanish skills, but was difficult when I was sick. In introductory Spanish classes they teach you basic vocabulary for many topics (I remember having a unit on doctors and sickness in Spanish four), but I didn’t have the vocab to say more than simple things like me duele la garganta, la cabeza, y los músculos. I knew I should go to the farmacia, where Spaniards go to get medicine before they go to a doctor (you’re able to get more than just over the counter medicine here, it’s a lot different than in the US), but I was dreading it because of my lack of Spanish medical knowledge. Luckily, I never had to go because Gloria gave me some medicine that made me feel better within hours. I spent most of the week in bed, though, because my body was absolutely exhausted. I talked to a lot of friends who had been abroad, and apparently it’s super common to get sick in your first few weeks because traveling takes a huge toll on your body.

By Thursday I was feeling a lot better, which I was very thankful for since API had a planned excursion to visit Sevilla this past weekend! Things were looking up– I felt better, and I was about to go explore a beautiful city with some friends. The city was stunning. My friends and I spent the first evening exploring, ate some delicious gelato, and went out on the town for a little bit. The next day we saw the Real Alcázar, the Cathedral, and then had more free time! My friends Harrison, Nicolas, and I spent our siesta time on the roof of our hotel, which had a patio overlooking the city, and then Alyssa and I went out exploring again until it was time for dinner! Everything was so wonderful, and I was loving the city.

 Here are me and my friends Cady, Sofia, Kim, and Alyssa at the Real Alcázar!

That night, we went out again, and at about 3 am (nightlife starts late in Spain, I’m usually a grandma who goes to bed at 11 pm, what has this country done to me??), I realized that my purse had been unzipped, and that my phone and wallet were no longer in it. I froze, and felt my heart drop. This was my nightmare. I was in a foreign country with no phone and no money. I always tried to make sure I was paying attention to my purse and thought I did a good job but like my dad said, people who pickpocket for a living are far better at stealing than you are at protecting. I called my dad in a panic from a friend’s phone, and we cancelled my credit card and put my phone on lockdown mode. In that moment, as I was crying on the side of a road in Sevilla, I felt utterly defeated and as though nothing could go my way. But, God has a way of creeping in and reminding me that She’s going to take care of me. I lost my ID, but the week before I left I renewed my license because it was due to expire in April when I turn 21, so a new on is on its way to me soon. My dad also realized that even though he never insures our phones, my phone happened to still have insurance. That means that a replacement phone is getting to my dad tomorrow, and will then be sent to me! Most importantly, my passport was in my hotel room, and I only lost the 20€ that was in my wallet.

Sunday we packed up the bus and headed back to Salamanca. We left at 2 PM, and were supposed to arrive in Salamanca around 9. But, of course, when we were a little less than halfway into the trip, our bus broke down in the middle of nowhere. We were about 1 km away from a little town called Torremejía, where we set up camp for a few hours. We had no idea how long fixing the bus would take, so we explored the village. As we were walking around, off in the distance we heard music and saw a group of people in the streets. We decided to go see what was going on and to our surprise, it was a group of maybe 50 dancers and 20 people on a giant percussion contraption parading around the streets. A girl from Torremejía came up to us and asked why we were there– it was a town of about 2,300 people, so our group stuck out like a sore thumb. She told us that this was a group called Comparsa Las Monjas, and that they were practicing for a parade they were going to be in next week. Although our bus had broken down in the middle of nowhere, seeing them practice was without a doubt the highlight of my time in Spain so far. I highly suggest checking them out on Facebook, they are such a cool group!! We didn’t end up getting back to Salamanca until about 1:30 AM, but that didn’t even bother me because of the amazing experience we had had in Torremejía.

As this week (and especially this weekend) happened, I had moments where I felt utterly defeated, but I also had amazing moments that I am so thankful for. Everything seemed to go wrong, but like my dad also said, bad experiences make for great stories down the road. Yes, I am annoyed that I have 11€ in cash and that I have to use my computer in order to communicate, but I am safe and surrounded by loving and supportive friends and family, both in Salamanca and back home. Before I left, a close family friend sent me a card filled with love and wishes that I would have many experiences that would bring me closer to God as I traveled. Although this week felt like a disaster, I can’t help but reflect on how thankful I am for my dad, who helps me stay calm as I feel like my life is falling apart. For my friends, who sit with me on the side of the road in a city we don’t know, and who give me hope and encouragement as I feel like my life is falling apart. For this experience, the good, the bad, and everything in between. And for God, who reminds me that even though things go wrong, She is always looking out for me. 

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