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Gallery 3I write this during an ordinary Monday. A couple of hours earlier I sat through another ethnology class--the prof is always very engaging, and I enjoyed this particular lecture--and in a few hours I will have two more classes. The rest of the days this week will be less busy. My thoughts wander through a variety of subjects-- an upcoming weekend trip to Germany, the people we have met here in Cádiz, or thoughts stimulated from attending church the day before. I have settled into living in Spain, and yet I know I have changed a lot since coming here. I feel a little more independent then I used to. The world feels smaller than it used to, and at the same time more foreign. I know Spanish well enough to get along, and yet I often wish I knew it better. Some days I understand more, other days less.
Sometimes it seems like my only stress comes from little things, like preocupation with how my photos turn out, or with travel plans. It seems like I have adjusted to living in a foreign country in all other respects. And yet there is a subtle stress that comes from living in a culture that is not your own, that maybe manifests itself in being preocupied with little things. By now, Spain seems "normal" and yet there is so much I don't understand. I wonder if I could ever feel integrated in Spanish culture, when their values and customs seem so different from my own. Are some cultures easier to adapt to than others or would I have the same feeling anywhere in the world? Would I even feel the same way in the U.S. if it were not for the Christian communities I have been apart of all of my life? Paul Hiebert, a Christian anthropologist whom we read in one of my EMU classes is of some help here. Just as all human beings are created in the image of God, and yet are also fallen, every culture on earth is likewise both fallen, but also bearing the likeness of God. This means that I am not going to imitate everything that is common or accepted here if it goes against my own values. At the same time, whereas I feel I have every right to judge U.S. mainstream culture, as I am from the U.S., I know the same right doesn't apply to a culture in which I have only lived for three months.
The rural community of my growing up years and the church circles I have been a part of in the U.S. make me feel "at home" in the United States, when in reality, I am not really terribly "at home" in the U.S., either. Just as learning Spanish allows me to understand English grammar better, living in Spain has changed the way I look at the United States. I realize that Americans tend to live in a world that contains only the U.S., while Spaniards live in a small enough country that they have to include foreign culture or news in their world (Just as an example, most theaters in the U.S. show only American films, but a theater in Spain wouldn't be able to show only Spanish films. Sometimes I am angered by my country's actions and way of life, and yet at other times am bothered by the negative sentiment in Europe toward the U.S.
Overall, I expect my semester over here to be impactful and worthwhile, aside from my language or cultural progress.