Being on exchange is an incredibly rewarding experience, if only for learning how to grow up! In the past three months that I've spent here in Spain, I have been stretched, challenged and have grown up an incredible amount. I looked through my diary and saw just how much I have written the words "growing up", "challenged" (because challenges comes with growing up!" and "mature"...
"This week has been good, but I've felt a little lost... I feel like I'm crossing the bridge between being a child and an adult, and I can't decide which one I want to be! So many times I have been challenged to do the 'grown up' thing, but a lot of the time I just want to be the child, to be cared and nurtured for and not have to worry about things like money, kids running across the road, how my Spanish is improving. Sometimes I wish it was a little easier... but if it were easier, it wouldn't be exchange, and I wouldn't be on the bridge between childhood and adulthood..."
"I told myself I had a choice. That I could either be controlled by my anger and hurt, or I ould let myself enjoy and embrace the day. So I decided to enjoy the day. And I did."
"I'm looking out of the window at the clouds, marvelling in their unique shapes, and the way the light adds depth, and totally just makes them peices of art. I feel a little bit like Jasmine from Alladin. God is taking me on a magic carpet ride to see the beautiful and different culture, landscape and life of Spain. I'm seeing a 'whole new world'. And on this ride, I am learning from my creator just what it is to be human. I'm sitting in the car, feeling like I'm the only person in the world, away from my family and friends... I feel like I've been stripped bare, the only thing familiar to me being God. It's not been and easy journey, and I've had to look at myself and tell myself to learn and grow and strengthen in a way that I wouldn't be able to if I was still at home with Mum and Dad."
"I've felt extremely challenged and inspired this week. I've felt challenged as to how I want to raise my children, as to how I want to live my life, what values I want to have a priorities in my life. I feel like I am so old - since when do I start think about raising kids and things like that? I must be getting older..."
[On an article I read on influential women in the world - Michelle Obama, Mrs Gates and Queen Rania of Jordan.] "One of their common factors they all held was for their passion for human rights, equality, and using their passion for these subjects, their positions and influences in society to make an impact. Ah, I felt as if the artivles were written just for me. I felt like jumping out of my seat there and then and joining arms with them to bring justice to people and their situations. being here in Spain, when I've ever told people what I'm studying next year, they;be all been extremely surprised. And everytime I tell them that that's what I'm studying, they tell me that you can't study that at university, and that Development Studies and Culture Change is not an option for a career. But they always tell me that they wished that they could/could have studied something like that. It makes me so happy to have been brought up in Australia, and in the generation that I'm in. "You don't know what you've got till it's gone" saying rings incredibly true to me in so many circumstances - I'm so glad that I've been raised by the family I'm part of, having ahd the values and faith I have instilled in me from a young age. I feel so incredibly blessed to come here to Spain, if only for that reason, to see how blessed I am in Australia."
"I think before I left for this year of exchange, I thought, 'Well, I'm 18, I've finished school, I can drive, I've had a steady job for almost four years, I'm grown up. This year I'll definitely grow and learn more about myself, grow in my faith, in Spanish, but I'm already an adult.' But coming here, I've realised that in only three months, I've grown up A LOT. When I left home, I still relied on my parents, my friends, church, my support system for everything. They filled my every need, and I was comfortbale. So, of course, I felt all grown up. But, here in Spain, there have been so many things I've had to grow up about, and 'parent' myself with."
These past couple of weeks have been particularly eye opening and challenging, as I have been frustrated with lots of things, constantly feeling down, stretched, tired, and wanting to have my Mum and Dad with me to tell me it'll be alright. Dad sent me this email of a devotional he received, just after I had talked to them about how stressed I had been: