Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Back into it..

Tucked away in my drafts I have an incredibly long and detailed blog post about post-Spain. I kept putting it off though. Kept putting off the facing of those emotions I seem to try and hide from, that make me miss Spain, that make me yearn for Spain and Spanish-isms.

Me and my brothers and sisters.

But, I miss writing. I miss sharing my life with people, whether that be my exchange year, or my post-exchange year. Both to me are equally exciting!

Mount Wilson during Autumn.

So, perhaps one day, I'll re-read that post, that describes coming back to Australia, trying to get accustomed back into life. Perhaps I'll sit down, take a deep breath, have a box of tissues close and finish it. But for now, I think I'll start with now, with today, and the adventures I am faced with back in Australia!

It is now almost four months since I've been back in Australia. My life is a continual reflection back on Spain... "I wonder what I was up to today a year ago." I have returned to Australia, yet a big part of my heart and self has been left behind in Spain. But, again, in saying that... I am Australian. I am right where I am meant to be. I look around me, at the bush, at the Blue Mountains, at where God has placed me, and I know deep down that this is truly my home. I have been so truly blessed with these four months since I've been home. I can say that I have finally settled down, I've joined a new church, I am studying Spanish at uni, attending a Spanish church on the weekend, and am incredibly blessed with the friends and family that surround me.

Dad and I in Mount Wilson.

Being back in Australia is so completely different! At one end of the spectrum, I'm used to travelling overseas by myself, without any permission, and now I have to ask permission to use the car to drive to Blaxland, the next suburb. But on the other end, here I am, sitting in the living room by myself, eating homemade pizza, with a glass of wine, whilst my best friend is working on her assessments because she's living in our house for a month whilst my parents are traveling overseas. I am now once again an only child (in the sense that I'm the only child living at home) instead of being the eldest of a 7, 12, and 13 year old. Life is different. Not better, not worse, just different.

Min and I at a lookout in Yellow Rock.

I still can't get over the animals in Australia. We had this giant spider in the house the other week, and Mum barely blinked as she got a container and captured it. We have a possum who forever runs up and down our veranda. We went bushwalking and saw a blue tongue lizard. We had a big saga about a missing possum trap. These things sound oh so foreign to me, even though I grew up in Australia. In Spain we barely had bugs... let alone unique animals!

The Giant Spider.

I am one of those people that are lucky enough to be passionate about what they study. Part of my course at uni is Spanish. In my first week, I was placed into second year Spanish, and almost cried with the easiness of it. To me, to hear Spanish is to hear English. It sounds exactly the same, they're both as easy to understand as the other. In the intermediate course, it was like being taught as if I was five years old. I was devastated, thinking that I would spend three years studying a language that I already knew, as if I was a beginner. However, after speaking to the lecturer, and sending through some emails, I was placed in the advanced course (third year Spanish) and I am absolutely loving it. Twice a week I get to listen to hours of Spanish, write Spanish, speak Spanish, and even better: learn more about Spanish. I find such joy in Spanish. Those small hours a week make me feel like I'm back in Spain, wondering through the streets, experiencing the culture once again. I cannot wait for next year, when I start to learn about translating, and start to look at cultural studies rather than just the grammar. Studying Spanish makes me happy, it's my passion, and I am so thankful that I continue to have Spanish as a weekly part of my life.

Mum and I at Woy Woy

I am loving rediscovering my life back here in Australia. I have started to attend a new church, Blue Mountains City Church, which has been so exciting. I have been so challenged in my walk with God, challenged by the idea of who a living, breathing Christian is, and what that means for my life. I have loved getting to know a new set of people, of getting to share my Spain with them, and for them to introduce me into their lives. The friends that I've made there are incredible, and I know that they are very special people that God has been using to direct my life in the way He wants. Church is such a highlight of my week, and I'm loving being excited about it! As well as my new church, I have also been going to a Spanish church in Merrylands. I often get to take a friend with me as well, and it is so warming to share Spanish, and a little piece of Spain. Something I find challenging is that although I'm back in Australia, my Spanish life is still very much a part of me. I now like strong coffees, I like olives. I enjoy an occasional sleep in. I have phrases that still come to me first in Spanish, second in English. But people get sick of the stories, become disinterested, or just don't understand. To be able to introduce a non-Spanish person into my 'Spanish life', just a little bit, through Spanish church is an unbelievable gift to have. It also means I get to be surrounded by Spanish people, their infectious liveliness, laughter and passion (as well as their dos besos - two kisses).

Sydney Harbour

Coming back to the Blue Mountains was a little bit of a shock! Bare feet! Finally! Greenery! The piano! My own bed! Bonnie! Weak coffee (ugh)! Hot weather! It was all so different, yet so similar. There are sometimes where I still get a shock about something new that I have remembered about Australian culture. I still find it so awkward to meet new people. All I can think of is, "What do I do?! Do I give them two kisses? Do I shake hands? Do I hug?" And then I just end up standing there awkardly and wave. But all a part of the experience! I have so loved going into the city, catching a ferry and seeing where it takes me. I've loved taking people to my favourite places in the Blue Mountains, revisit the places that I used to go to all the time. Life is continually changing. So many people have gone through huge transitions while I've been away; some have become engaged, others moved to the city, started uni, gotten full time jobs. We have all changed in some way or other, and it's been nice to be able to share the changes with other people.

Me with the Three Sisters, in Katoomba.

But it isn't always easy. Sometimes I get homesick for Spain. I can remember, about six weeks ago, I was looking through old photos, looking back on all of the good memories with my host family, with my Spanish friends, with my travels. I just felt like my heart was breaking. So I just sat there and cried. And not just cried, but sobbed. I felt like I was going to break in two. I think I sat there for hours, at the table, crying onto my computer as I listened to Spanish songs, looked at photos and thought to myself, "When will the pain end? When will it be ok to think about Spain and not miss it so much?" This is one part of exchange that is so difficult to share with other people. Not many people know what it is like to live on your own for a year, in a different culture, with a different language and different family, and then to return. My family lived in England for three years, so they could understand to a certain extent. But when they went to England, they were with their family, and when we returned, we came back as a family, to family. I left my second family in Spain. There are times where I feel myself come apart when I can't remember a word in Spanish, or when a phrase I thought of in Spanish comes first in English. When my Spanish-isms leave me for Australianisms, I feel lost. I miss Spain. I miss being Spanish. It's still something that I struggle with. Something that I still pray about. But I'm here in Australia, and I love being here. I love being surrounded by the community around me, by the people who make my life happy and special. And, life isn't meant to be easy! Having the pain I feel for Spain just makes me realise what a big part it was and is to me. It gets easier though. Every day I am in Glenbrook, in the Blue Mountains I am reaffirmed that this is where I'm meant to be. I have been so incredibly blessed with where God has placed me, with the people He has placed in my life, and the people I've gotten to know over this four month period.

Sydney Harbour from a ferry.

Mum told me she was worried that I'd be bored when I got back to Australia. But she couldn't be more wrong. I'm having the time of my life, and cannot wait to see the adventures God has in store for me in the coming months and years!
Dad and I at a wedding.

The rest of this post are just photos of some of the things I've been up to, and that have made my life a little more interesting since my return to Australia! Enjoy!

Lunch with Dad.

Dress-ups with Sarah.

Cousinly love :)

Coleman's musical fun after church.

Geocaching with Uncle Bruce!

Tea at the Jazz Apple.

Uncle Geoff's 50th Birthday party.

City fun with Tarn.

My favourite siblings.

Best family out!
City fun with Jo and Pip.
Homemade breakfasts!
Autumn goodness.
Movie times with my bible study and favourite girls!