Year 2

I’ve been here over a year. I’m passing wisdom and comfort to people who resemble my panicked heart 12 months ago. I have hiccups still, but they aren’t accompanied by extreme stress and shutdown. When I do make mistakes I can look with “calma” as my tutor might say when he starts to correct something I clearly wrote in a hurry, making mistakes I shouldn’t make anymore. In the same way, there is a new found tranquility in my second year. I review and reflect without the clamor and chaos last year brought. I am able to gaze at this ancient town and see beauty in the tall stone walls, instead of bowing my head against the cold they encourage. I am able to see the culture around me, know far more about subjective and objective values and their differences. I am able to grasp at the deep understanding one can glean from being a true foreigner. For example, like classic heroes, every culture has a tragic flaw. However, the story is not a Greek tragedy already scripted. This year, as I talk with students about current events, or rather, turmoils: the war in Syria, the US government shutdown, Spain’s economic crisis, etc, it becomes clear the enemy is not our cultural tragic flaws, though they exist and they are battles to be fought, but a sweeping global mindset that is quickly becoming cross-cultural: apathetic pessimism. This is what I fought last year in the gloom of culture shock. So although I have learned much this past year, I have fought a personal battle, only to look up in the wake of victory and find the world is battling the same. I can vouch personally that the cure is caring with hope, and like anything worth having it is far from easy, but it is the best way to make it to the second year.

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