Tuesday, August 31, 2010

First days in Burgos

Oye! I can't believe that it has only been a couple of days since I left the states. I love it here. Burgos is the perfect size. Not really small, but big enough that there is a lot for me to do! A lot of great historical sites to visit, mostly with El Cid. And a lot of great architecture as well, such as Gothic, Renaissance, and much more!

I left the states on Friday. Mom and Dad drove in on Thursday to surprise me; and they totally succeeded! I did not expect it at all! It was great seeing them. So at the airport to see me off was my parents, my sister, my best friend and her baby, and my wonderful boyfriend. It was so difficult to see them all off. There were a lot of tears on both sides. Up till I left, i was thinking, why am I doing this? How crazy am I do go live in a city I have never been in before with a family that I have never met?

But I went. One of the hardest things to do was to look back at my family and friends and know that I won't see them for at least 5 months. One thing that helps is knowing that my sister and 3 of my cousins will visit for Christmas. It helps a lot, knowing that they will be here in only...3 months.

All my flights went well. I made it into Chicago just in time to grab something to eat and then eat it on the plane to Newark. I had like a 2 hour layover in Newark, which was kinda nice. I just wanted to get going and fly though. It was difficult seeing people traveling with loved ones and knowing that I had to do this all on my own.

After only a 6 hour flight, I arrived in Madrid; tired, in need of coffee, and nervous. I knew that after customs, I had to exchange money and then go find a taxi to take me to the train station. I was praying that I found one that didn't rip me off and that was honest. Praise be to the Lord, He helped me with all that. Arrived at the train station without any problems. Then I had to wait 4 hours for my train. I was SO happy when I found out that they had internet, and then I saw that Ryan was online! So I was able to talk to him, which helped me greatly.

It was my first train ride, and I loved it. So relaxing, peaceful, and a beautiful way to see the countryside. Despite my best efforts, I dozed on the way there. When I woke, I was petrified that I had missed my stop, but thankfully I didn't. My host family was able to pick me out of the crowd of people; probably because I had the most stuff with me :)

I loved them immediately. The host mother, Begoña, immediately asked me if I was hungry. I said yes, and that I was tired as well. They were asking me questions and stuff, and I tried to respond as best I could. When I am tired, all the languages kinda just get mixed up; it is much more difficult to separate them. Thankfully, Begoña speaks French and the girls, Laura (20) and Irene (15) both speak English. It helps me so much when all the languages start mixing. They have also had many international students stay with them, so they are used to having these kind of problems. They tell me that I am a strange American because I love languages, history, art and architecture, that I speak German, am not a picky eater, that I love coffee black and that I love seafood; and I am okay with that.

They quickly made something for me to eat, even though per custom they don't eat till much later. Then we went shopping, since they needed to go and I needed a few things that I had to take out of my bag, like shampoo etc. It was interesting shopping with them. The girls are just like Deidra and I in how they get along; and they all are so helpful. At one point they wanted to read the label of something that was only in Spanish, English, German, and like Dutch or something, and they asked me to read it for them. So I had to translate from German to English. It was fun.

Once we got back, they let me go to bed. They knew that I was exhausted after having to take 3 planes, a taxi and a train to get here.

I slept for 16 hours straight.

Once I woke up, we ate a wonderful meal and sat and talked for like 2 hours. The Spanish/English dictionary had a place at the table too, and it helped us a lot. Then they took me on a walk to campus, just to see how far it is (only 30 min beautiful walk through a park), and showed me a few of the sights. After resting for a bit at a cafe, we walked to a friend of Irene's who was going to leave for Ireland to study for a year the next day. The house was busy with people coming and going, but they invited us to stay. Per custom, Begoña refused 3 times before we actually accepted. They were so welcoming to me as well; and the food was AMAZING. I have not yet had a thing that I don't like to eat yet.

Then we took the bus back to the center of town, where we live, and then walked around for a bit to see the city by night. It was beautiful. I am so happy to be living in such a beautiful city.

I will post more on Monday and today hopefully later. Right now I need to eat before my class on campus in intensive Spanish. :/

Monday, August 2, 2010

Learning Humility through my Grandparents

Grandpa's wake is today. It will be the first time that most of us have seen him since he left us. It will be a difficult time for all of us.

Deidra and I are at the Badlands Brew waiting for Grandma to get her hair done at the beautician. Deidra, Dad, and I took her to mass this morning and then to breakfast before her hair appointment. None of her daughters said they would take her, even though one of them took Grandma's only mode of transportation: her van. It is frustrating Mom and Dad and Deidra and I to see her being treated this way by her own daughters. But they will leave and Grandma can live her life the way she wants. She is such a humble woman to just do as they want and not say anything.

Both her and Grandpa were/are like that. Grandpa was so humble that we didn't know much of anything about him until we were reading the obituary. We didn't know that he was in the Civilian Conservation Corps, an airplane mechanic in the Navy in WWII in the South Pacific Theater, that he painted prolifically, and that he collected different kinds of barbed wire. Sitting here, I can smell him. I can smell how Grandpa smelled. Such a beautiful gift.

Deidra, Mom and I went with Grandma to the house that she shared with Grandpa yesterday. She wanted us to take a few things before anyone else got to them. We found some of Grandpa's paintings. Not even counting the ones still at the farm, there were over 50 paintings. Each of us picked one out, and one for Dad. We found one for Mom with a rose, since when Mom and Dad first got married, Grandpa brought her a rose every day when he came out to the farm. It was the last rose from him to her.

Myself, I was on a mission. Grandpa said the last time I talked to him, while talking about teaching German to 5th graders, that I could have the Haich Family German bible. I asked Grandma about it and she said that she didn't know where it was. I had to find this last beautiful gift from Grandpa. Walking around, I stopped at his desk. There it was, tucked in the corner. It has names of nieces and nephews, and the day that people were born and died; all in German. Grandpa made sure I got it before anyone else did.

Then Grandma also let us go through most of her jewelry and pick out pieces. I found some beautiful necklaces and rings, and the rings are the EXACT size I am. I now have some of my Grandma's rings.

I will write more later. Leaving to get Grandma.

Here is the obituary.