With the last month of my time here in Madrid approaching, I’m constantly thinking about what I want to accomplish with the short time I have left. Yet, I have realized that I’ve accomplished so much this year. I have been able to switch the country I live in, my home, family, and way of life to the extent that now I feel totally normal living here in Madrid. My Spanish is better than ever before and I feel very comfortable speaking it all day with everyone. I’ve put a lot of work into making activities for the girls at the Montoya home and do my best to help every afternoon I spend with them. I’ve begun giving English classes at the Neighborhood Association of Ventilla and have taken it upon myself to spread information about the workshops offered and find someone to help us with the English classes in the afternoons. Through traveling I’ve seen more of the world and in doing so have made meaningful connections and friendships in Madrid and all over Europe. I know the district of Tetuan and the center of Madrid very well and have been a tour guide for friends who have visited. I have become immersed in the Spanish way of life (not sure how I’ll go back to eating meals at the normal time) and have learned how to make some Spanish dishes!
Being in León was a spectacular way to carry out the final moments of Semana Santa. Liveliness fills the streets, and one can sense the national Nicaraguan pride that shines in the grin of many. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to participate in a near century year old tradition with the family of my best friend, Isidro. His family lives on “La Calle de las Alfombras”, where each year several families sweep the streets, sell sweets, and, most of all, make beautiful murals made out of sawdust called alfombras, or rugs. In the evening, thousands of people come to gaze at the various murals created, all with their own special touch. The process can be long and brutal in the hot sun, but it was quite a surprise to see how simple it is, with such magnificent pieces of art as the final product. I am no artist, but the fellow neighbors who have been doing this art since youth were more than willing to teach me the proper techniques.
“A tía isn’t just someone that’s related to you. They’re someone who watches out for you and takes care of you.” I remember walking towards the city center with my host brother when he told me this. We had just passed his aunt’s house, and I wanted to know how exactly it was that she was related to him. He quickly laughed and revealed that she wasn’t actually a member of the family, but rather a friend of his parents. Nevertheless, being that he’d grown up with her love and support his entire life, in many ways she really was like an aunt.
At my work, La Asociación de Las Tías, the students refer to staff members as either tía or tío (the latter meaning uncle). When I first arrived, I was super excited about the fact that I’d get to come in and be a tío to so many kids. There was just one problem, however — I wasn’t. Unlike staff members, volunteers at Las Tías are referred to be their first name.
Curious what our first class of 1+4 fellows are doing here on campus? Check out the latest video from our fabulous alum filmmaker Madeline to catch up with some of our alumni as they complete their first year at Tufts!
Hello world it’s me, writing a personal blog for the first time in a long time. What am I up to? Currently I’m laying on the president’s lawn at Tufts enjoying the 80 degree weather (so long as I pretend our planet isn’t dying) with a new friend I made this semester. First semester here I saw a lot of people around campus that I wanted to be friends with but never reached out to so my social goal this semester was to approach everyone I had a “friend crush” on and try to befriend them. So far it’s worked out swimmingly. I used to approach situations from the standpoint of “Oh no… they’re too cool for me…” but I realized that’s ridiculous and if someone thought they were “too cool” for new friends then I probably wouldn’t want to be friends with them anyway. I’ve worked to surround myself with people I enjoy being around- people I want to make happy and people who want to make me happy, largely my 1+4 friends, because being emotionally content is just as important as doing well academically and I think I solidified that life outlook last year.