“The Lord has become my fortress, and my God is the rock in whom I take refuge.” Psalm 94:22
So I’ve finished my first week of school in Spain and I can’t believe how different it is. All my classes are taught in Spanish and we don’t speak English at all, which can be quite overwhelming. I’ve reached the point that I knew would come. The initial awe and wonder of this amazing city is beginning to wear off now that we have started school. Those feelings have now been replaced with shock, stress and usually a big headache after only using Spanish for hours straight. The other day I started questioning, “Why am I even here?” When people tell you studying abroad is the best experience you’ll ever have, they forget to tell you that you’ll also face some of the hardest times. They don’t tell you how you’ll get homesick and want to fly back despite the dreadfully long flight. They forget to tell you how scary or stressful it can be, especially when you realize things about yourself you never knew. For those that don’t go abroad to learn a foreign language, you typically don’t have the shock factor of realizing despite the years in the classroom, nothing could have prepared you for this experience.
Luckily, I chose an amazing program to study abroad through. With the Semester in Spain program, every Wednesday night, students can meet in Iglesia Prosperidad (a local non-denominational church) where they hold a time of “Encuentro” with worship and usually a small sermon. Yesterday was Wednesday and my third day of classes. I was feeling exhausted, hot, overwhelmed, stressed and slightly homesick, but when I arrived at Iglesia Prosperidad, I realized a few things that get hidden among this new life.
First, I remembered that God has a plan for my life and that I’ve been placed in this city, in this school, and with this group of people for a reason bigger than I may ever understand. Also, I remembered how He holds everything together and that in James 1:2-4, we are promised hard trials, but that all trials of faith develop our perseverance.
Looking around the room that night, I realized that I couldn’t ask for anything more. I realize that God has given me a new life here (even if it is only for a short while) and a new experience. He’s also given me: 45 new classmates; an amazing group of friends; this beautiful city; incredibly patient professors; and the people around me, who help me find my God among this new life. I’ve been here a total of 10 days and I am in love with this life, with this new city, and with my God that no matter where I go, is right beside me.