Tag Archives: class


Because markers imply that there is further to go, and milestones sounds so tragic.

The last two days, I’ve come home and home to find Claudia working on the computer.  We’ve had nice conversations, the type that I wish that I had more of with Spaniards.  I still am short of 100% proficient on all conversation topics, but I can talk easily without thinking.  Today, she asked me if I even noticed what language I was speaking, which I thought was a huge compliment.

On another note, always be nice to foreigners.  I can remember times that I specifically reached out to people with less-than-perfect English skills, but I never thought anything of it.  I’m not sure how to exactly convey how much it means when people try to help me.

Today, my law professor was explaining how he wanted us to mark our answers for the test.  The guy next to me, who’s never spoken to me before, asked me, in English, if I understood.  That was it, but it just felt nice to know someone cared, even just a little, about how I was getting along.

I think part of the reason I hate that class so much is just because nobody talks to me.  Course, I don’t really talk to people, but they all know each other and talk in big groups.  And since I was too scared to say anything in the beginning, it’d be weird to try to join in now.  In general, everyone at school seems used to always having a couple of foreign kids in their class, and they know we are leaving, so they just kinda ignore us.

I started a new class on the Cold War last week.  In an attempt to avoid the social setting of my law class, I tried to hide the fact that I am foreign.  My attempts were futile.  I don’t know if I wear a sign on my back or if tall blonde just falls too far out of sync with what your average Spaniard looks like, because people can always tell that I’m an American, before I ever say a word.

Anyways, on Tuesday, I passed the attendance sheet to the guy ahead of me in the middle of class.  He turned to take it and mouthed a quiet “thank you” without thinking.  It baffles my mind how easily people always know, but at least he was being nice.


The Cardinal Rule of Orientations

They are always boring.

Welcome @ UC3M (Carlos III)

Orientation in Santiago was fine, but now that we are getting into the nuanced logistics of real life, not so much.  A lot of it really is necessary, but my days have been filled with down time, morning commutes, and inconveniently scheduled meetings.  Furthermore, after all of that, I still have no idea what classes I should be taking.

Basically, there are two main types of courses 1) normal classes with Spaniards, grados 2) classes (supposedly equally challenging but really not) taught in Spanish for international students, CEHs.  To be honest, most of CEHs don’t really appeal to me.  I listened to a lecture on the law CEH course, thinking I would be interested.  Turns out the class is just semester long discussions on things like abortion and doctor assisted suicide.  I’ve talked those subjects to death, and I don’t need to be in a classroom to have an intelligent conversation about them.

I’ve asked about how many grado classes students with lower-level Spanish skills (such as myself) could reasonably take, and I’m yet to get an answer.  They just say it depends on how motivated you are.  Motivation is no problem for me, but I want to know whether my motivation to succeed will lead me to an unhealthy stress level.  Hopefully, I get a little direction tomorrow.

I’ve been doing a little research into extracurriculars too, although I’m a little lost there too.  I have to say, Carlos III could win awards for its disorganization.  I can’t find squat.  However, after follow links from links from links, I found out that Carlos III has an Intervarsity chapter (same Christian fellowship that I’m a part of at home).  Somebody responded to my email inquiry about that today, which lifted my spirits considerably.

I’ve been really sick the last couple days.  It’s like someone coated my throat with plastic wrap, because it feels all constricted and sticky.  I’m coughing so hard from deep down in my lungs that I fall forward.  I can’t sleep either, because if I lay down my throat gets even more constricted.  Consequently, I’ve had near constant head and stomach aches.

I think it might be a bug or something.  Somebody said the air here is dryer and that I”m just adjusting, but I have no idea whether that is true.  One of my friends has the same thing as I do, which I find slightly encouraging.  At least that means that there isn’t just something weird wrong with me.

Banco de Espana

la cucaracha x2 (na na na na na na na)

Team three got in last night.  This one’s staying with me in Queens, while team two is still out a Brooklyn.  There both nice groups.  Today, we were out canvassing for children’s programs and English classes in Jackson Heights, Queens, which was great because we had a lot of people, covered a lot of ground, and last time I did this we only got the word out about the English classes.  I think the kids understood how what they were doing opened a lot of doors for long term ministry in the community too, which is great.  After work we went to F.O. Schwartz, which you might recognize if you’re a Tom Hanks fan (think Big)

Giant Toy Store


Recognize this seen? Guess what store has it...in addition to things like a $25,000 Barbie foosball tables

I really enjoy showing teams around, but it is exhausting.  Tiredness is exacerbated by lack of sleep too, so that’s been hard.  On another note, and for your sake, I’ll skip the details. I never want to see another cockroach (dead or alive) in my life.

And I thought I was young…

First team from Swan Creek Community Church in Delta, Ohio arrived yesterday.  In the 24 hour period they’ve been here we’ve done a lot, including meeting up with some folks with Urban Impact.  We worked at a South Asian Community Center and advertised for their English Language Classes.  That was an experience.

Normally, something like passing out flyers to strangers wouldn’t phase me at all, but having been in the city for a couple weeks, it actually did.  I knew that the information we were handing out was really needed and would be well accepted, but since I’ve been here, people have constantly been trying to shove stuff in my hands.  I was afraid of being blown-off.  That couldn’t have been further from what actually happened.

Sure, people on the street won’t take paper from a stranger, but the small restaurants and stores did, eagerly.  Many people in the community we were working in do not speak English.  It is predominantly Muslim and has many immigrants.  Free English classes aren’t just a pastime.  The ability to speak English opens huge opportunities, allowing individuals to better provide for themselves and their families.

One group knocked on the door of a law office.  The lawyer came out and took our flyer.  He circled the phone number and the address and said that he would be getting the information to lots of people who would be contacting us.  The man also asked us why we were doing what we were doing, and like lots of people, asked how we were able to help people out for free.

It was only a couple of hours, but the man from Urban Impact said that he expects 80 new people to show up on Monday because of what we did.  Jeff said he anticipated us having a positive experience, but even he was a little overwhelmed with how well everything went.

The afternoon was jam-packed with cross city walking and part 1 of our prayer walk.  I’d been to Ground Zero before, but being at St. Paul’s, where all the rescue workers rested after 9/11 was unbelievable.  There’s something amazing about how the whole space was used, looking at the pew George Washington sat in and reading on the plaque behind it how in a time of need, even this great piece of American history was used to provide for rescue workers.

Reconstruction at Ground Zero

inside St. Paul's

We had dinner in China town, and I had my first try at haggling.  After that, I ran the group through Central Park, and we sat down for a devotional time.

Even though it takes the few extra minutes I have, I’ve made a point of talking to the girls on the team every time I can.  I figure the work we are doing is great, but the relationships, among ourselves and those we are serving is how God’s going to be working.  The point of everything that we are doing is to build those relationships.

I’m young and energetic, but after a day like yesterday, today, and what’s coming tomorrow and Monday, whew let’s just say it’s a lot of work.  Good work though.