For anyone who has ever missed a night’s sleep, my heart truly goes out to them. I’ve been fortunate enough during my time in Spain to have accomplished many feats of falling asleep. My first exhausting month in the new culture with the new schedule allowed me to fall asleep with the TV on down the hall and my bedroom light on. That takes skill, as far as I’m concerned…. or exhaustion.
The reason I bring up sleep is because my weeklong break in the program here in Spain consisted of a bus ride to Madrid during the night, where my friend Kristen and I flew to see some friends in Switzerland for about 5 days. The night bus should’ve offered a night of sleep to be ready on Tuesday morning for a day in the lovely Swiss nation, but my sleep came in increments of 20 minutes, interrupted by neck aches. I shouldn’t complain, though, because Switzerland offered enough rest for the week to set me straight.
My goal this trip was to see something new in the Geneva/Burtigny area, and spend time with Shelby and Sylvain, our hosts. The week began with a trip in to Geneva where Kristen and I saw St. Peter’s Cathedral (can’t get enough of that place, to be honest!), the Reformation Wall, and several shops littered throughout the city. A quick sidestep, though, takes me to a story from the Reformation wall. There are life sized chess sets that reside in the northern part of the park that houses the Wall. Kristen and I decided to try our hand at a game of chess, and started moving the plastic pieces to their proper locations. In the middle of the game, a few Albanians came and sat on a bench facing our chess board. How did I know that they were Albanians? Simple! They told us. Through a series of events, they ended up playing with us, one on Kristen’s team and one on mine. We had a good laugh about it all, thanked them, and then were on our way to find some lunch.
On the whole, my time in Switzerland was a pocket of gold during my Study Abroad experience. It was a good break to rest, be somewhere familiar, spend time with friends, and feel the liberty of communicating in English for the most part. Kristen and I were even blessed by a trip to France for a day, as we took the ferry across Lake Geneva to a city called Yvoire, which was filled with the scent of sweet wine and Christmas sweets. The city was beginning to show signs of the nearing holiday, which brought with it an unexplainable joy for me. We ate a couple of french crêpes and made our way back to Switzerland that afternoon, spending the last couple of days in Burtigny.
I believe it was Saturday, the second of November, that I was sitting up on what I call ‘my bench’ in Burtigny which honestly doesn’t belong to me in any way, shape or form, other than the fact that I’ve sat on it a few times over the past two years. I was gazing out at the mountains, praising God under my breath for such a wonderful creation, even though they were partly covered. As I sat on this knoll, I heard a distinct sound echoing around me, and realized that I recognized the sound as cowbells in a rather large number! It turns out that the cows were coming in from the hills, making their way to their winter home along with the many farmers guiding them along the street. I ran down to the main road that passes through Burtigny, blessed for the second time in my life by watching the cows come home.
Now that I’m back in Sevilla, it’s a nose-to-the-grindstone situation as we have just over a month left (well, at the time I’m posting this I have just UNDER a month) until returning home. Coming back to Spain after a break was very positive for me, since I could look at Spain with a new pair of eyes again, and appreciate the things I love about it, and recognize what is hard for me culturally. Although it’s still an uphill battle, I’ve had a few victory moments in Spanish, where I either understand things very well, or have the ability to communicate grammatically correct (more or less) what I’m thinking. It’s only by God’s grace, because I’ve had my fair share of “I give up” moments. Somehow, even though I still have to work at it, he gives me enough patience to do it one day at a time. I have such a new outlook on people who are speaking a second language that they had to learn. I’m so blessed to have this opportunity, and it felt good to come home after a week in a third language country (it’s true- I consider my shoddy French the beginning of a third language). Needless to say, it’s a race to the finish from here.
Until the cows come home.