I consider myself to have a pretty strong will and personality. I think I’m pretty stubborn and don’t argue with me about that one. However, I have realized that being over here, there is one thing that I have at home and I do not have here. It isn’t really something that I realized that I would miss and it’s probably something that I take for granted at home. I miss having support and accountability. I might be accountable to my professors for turning in my homework or accountable to my friends to spend time with them. I might be accountable to my host family to show-up for meals on time. But I’m not spiritually accountable to anyone. There’s no one here who says “Cecilia, you have to go to Mass every Sunday. Cecilia, you have to take your daily prayer time.” And while I can do these things without being told to do them, there’s no one encouraging me to do them. And I miss that a lot.
I miss being able to discuss religion with people. A couple months ago, Jenny F. and I had a two or three hour long discussion about the importance of the Eucharist and Catholicism for each of us. We were discussing the importance of maintaining and living your faith on a daily basis. And I don’t have that here. During this first week, and probably for the next several weeks, my biggest encouragement spiritually is email and Facebook. It’s such an amazing feeling to open my email and see that email from FB saying “Nicole Terwilliger has written on your wall.” And while it might not be that big of a deal if you aren’t far away from home, it’s a huge deal to me. It isn’t just my mom sending me information about my bank account or Ben G. teasing me about Spanish men and mullets. It’s Nicole or Annie taking two minutes out of their day to think about me and to let me know that someone back home is praying for me. It’s a reminder that going out and clubbing isn’t something I would do back at home, so why should I do it here? (By the way, my host mom is stunned that I don’t like to go out late and party on the weekends. Here, everyone just goes out and clubs or goes to bars on Friday and Saturday nights. I prefer just going to someone’s house and watching a movie or talking to going out and being around lots of people. Random question: do migraines make me more of a homebody because I’m so extremely sensitive to sound and noise?)
So yes, you guys are hundreds of miles away. And you can’t sit here and be with me on a daily basis. But you know me. You understand my quirks and my preference for Jane Austen with a glass of wine to bouncing up and down to techno with sweaty strangers. Or if you don’t understand why I prefer Jane Austen to, say, John Grisham, you at least know that she’s one of my favorite authors and you accept that. By the way, I’ve been rereading Pride and Prejudice but in Spanish as Orgullo y prejucio. So it’s as good as ever but I never really realized how much I couldn’t stand Mr. Wickham and how quickly I wanted to get past him and move on to Mr. Darcy being all gallant and handsome and proud. “Or was Elizabeth proud and Mr. Darcy prejudiced?” (Quick…what movie am I quoting?)
Anyway, so last night, I went to H&M with a friend and bought a few things for myself as well as a present for someone. My friend had never been there before, so it was fun taking her and just looking at all the clothes. Afterwards, we wandered around downtown Bilbao looking at all the sights and people. The people here are so fashionable and so gorgeous; it’s pretty much ridiculous. We found this plaza; don’t worry I took pictures of it. It was really cool and we just sat there for a while and talked. And twice young boys (somewhere between eleven and thirteen years old) came over to ask us our names and then started hitting on me. “I’m a magnet for unavailable men,” to quote another chic flick.
I got home around ten or so and had dinner with the family. I also had my first taste of Spanish wine; it’s good. I don’t usually like red wine but this was a really good red wine. (By the way, Alex, if you’re reading this and wondering how I know so much about wine, please remember that I am half-Italian.)
Sunday morning, I went to Mass at the church down the street from the apartment. And I won’t be going back there. It’s mostly old people and apparently there is another church somewhere else nearby that has a children’s Mass on Sundays and I’d much rather go to that. I like seeing families at Mass. But this place is definitely nominally Catholic. There are so many churches but you just don’t really see people going to Mass every Sunday or anything like that. Antonia told me that type of thing primarily belongs to the older people. The younger people just aren’t as interested in their faith. It’s sad. It makes me miss churches like Christ the King where there are families everywhere. I like going to a “cry room with an altar.”
People have asked me to keep them updated as to my prayer requests. My prayer life and my spiritual life, my faith; these are what I would ask prayer for. It’s hard not being able to pick up the phone and say “Katie, I need pray for this.” And I can’t just shoot off an email either because I don’t have internet access in the apartment. Instead, I take my laptop to school and find a quiet place to check my email and blog. So that’s hard. I’m used to being able to shoot off an email or quickly call a friend when I need prayer for something. But this is good for me. Yes, I need prayer and support from other people, but it’s teaching me to pray on my own. And I know that when things get to my Christian friends, they will pray for me. So please keep holding me up in prayer.
And let me know how Michigan does; heck, tell me how GV does.