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Crimson Cords
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During the past dozen years, there have been a number of Midland alumni who have spent time overseas as student missionaries or foreign exchange students. Over the coming months, we will be featuring one of these students on our Crimson Cords page (tip of the hat to Union College).

Shelby Seibold (class of 2010) will be spending the 2012-2013 school year attending classes at Sagunto College (Escuela Superior de Español de Sagunto College) near Sagunto, Spain. Since Sagunto is only five miles from the Mediterranean, Shelby will probably return home with an extra-ordinary tan. If you enjoy the extracts below, be sure and read the full blog entries (and enjoy some great photography!) at her blog, Descubra España (Discover Spain). Former Midland student Rachel Blake is also attending Sagunto this year, so you'll hear about her as well. Enjoy.


October 5 - Vamos a Valencia: Yesterday was the trip to Valencia for groups D, E, and F. On the first part we toured the city in our bus while Ana pointed out various attractions. We saw Oceanografica, the largest aquarium in Europe, the Plaza del Toros where the bull fights take place, and the University of Valencia. Next, we went on a walking tour through the historic part of town.

The first place we went was the Valencia Cathedral, where we climbed 207 steps to the top of the Miguelete, un Torre gótica de la catedral (the gothic tower of the church). The cathedral was built in different parts, mainly during the 1200-1300s, and the bell tower was constructed in 1381.

The next place we walked to was the Plaza de la Virgen where a ceremony (Tribunal de Agua) was taking place. We got to see the Santa María Cathedral and the Puerto de los Apostoles. Next was another church whose name escapes me at the moment (and my google searches aren't getting me anywhere). We then headed to La Lonja, a gothic style civil building built in the late 1400s.

I hope everyone has a fantastic fin de semana (weekend) and a feliz Sabado!

October 3 - C is for Cookie: Last night was very busy; I felt like I had a ton of homework but it seemed doable. One tarea (task... a.k.a. HOMEWORK) I had to complete was a 4-5 minute presentation for my conversation class. I, like most others, decided the easiest route was to talk about myself. I made a short Keynote with photos of my family and I, and prepared my talk. Which means I wrote it out word for word. I went to bed tired and wishing las chicas (the girls) in the dorm were quieter.

The highlight of my day was still to come, however. At three I had my meeting with Belén, my monitor (mentor) for the year. We had a personal meeting for one whole hour where I could practice my Spanish. The time flew by so fast! She asked me all about what I liked to do when I was a kid, what I did this summer, and what Kansas is like. At the end, I could hardly believe I had just conversed in Spanish for a whole hour. Granted, I had lots of sentences that included "como se dice...?" (how do you say...?) but Belén was patient and helpful and I'm feeling much better about my skills!

All pumped up on Spanish, I decided to head back to my room. I hadn't been in my room two minutes when one of my deans came knocking to deliver a package! It was for Justin and I, from our abuela (grandma) and I was SO excited. He came over to the dorm so we could open it together and to our joy the box was full of what our family refers to as "grandma cookies." They are the most delicious drops of heaven you have ever eaten. It was so exciting to get a care package all the way from the US and the most amazing grandmother ever!

Looking back on the past two and a half weeks, I can't believe how different everything seems than when I first arrived. The stuffy little dorm room that greeted me my first night at 2 AM has already become home. The teachers who spoke so quickly on that first day of class are now friends. The autoconfianza I lacked just one week ago is slowly starting to grow. Can I do it? I think yes. Or as one of my favorite authors says, "And will you succeed?/Yes! You will indeed!/(98 and 3/4 precent guaranteed)." -Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You'll go.

October 2 - Alphabet Soup: I can't believe week three is underway! The past two weeks have flown by, but at the same time it feels like I've been in Spain for months. I now know my way around the campus, the town, the public bus system, and the comedor (the caf). I know not to wear heels to church because you'll never make it down the stone steps and back. I know that the bus runs less frequently on Sundays and if you get on the wrong one, you will go all the way to Valencia (luckily not from personal experience). I know that in the caf, you have to be very specific when you say un poco (a little) because they give huge servings of everything. I feel like I've learned so much already, but at the same time I know I have such a long, long way to go.

This afternoon we had Composición (Composition), which I love. The teacher's name is Chelo, and she is the cutest, tiniest lady ever. I think she's about the size of my mom, for those of you who know her, and her actions remind me of my mother as well! Her tiny frame holds a huge personality; she speaks quickly but clearly, uses lots of hand motions, and is never afraid to do silly things to make us laugh or understand what she's talking about. I think she's also pretty fluent in English, which gives her a good understanding of what we're going through.

September 29 - Feliz Sabado Hello and happy Sabbath everyone! I enjoyed church immensely today despite the language barrier. This week's music was lovely, with a small orchestra of around a dozen people playing while we sang hymns. They also did a fantastic rendition of Jesu Joy for offering. The man who preached the sermon this week spoke very clearly and I was able to understand a lot of what he was talking about! In addition, he read off where to find the Bible verses in English since sometimes it's hard to catch "Juan veintiseis catorce" (John 26:14) in the middle of a string of Spanish phrases. At the end, he summed up three points in both Spanish and English.

After reading my friend Kayla's blog that morning before church, I kept thinking about the huge network of SDAs all over the world. Suddenly it hit me that even when we aren't here, even when we all go back to Union or home for the summer or to our next adventure, these little (and big) churches will carry on just has they have. When I'm back at Union and Pastor Rich is talking about Shaboting and lighting the Sabbath Candle, the people here will be waking up for church. What a crazy and awesome network our church has created around this world!

September 28 - The Rain in Spain: ...does fall mainly on the plain. Well, this week, it's falling mainly on us, on the coast. It's hard to believe that last Sunday was sunny and 95º and now it's raining and 65º (F). And I'm from KANSAS where the weather changes every five minutes!

Last night Rachel and I tried a zumba class here at ESDES! It was absolutely hilarious. We had about 30 girls jammed in a tiny room trying to follow a very Spanish dance/workout. Rachel and I could not stop laughing. We were in the very back and couldn't see the teacher at all, and most of us have no rhythm what so ever.

This afternoon we took our weekly trip to Carrefour. Even though it's pretty much just like Walmart, everything seems so much more interesting! Maybe it's the rush of trying to figure out if you are buying sugar-free cookies (luckily I spotted "sin azucar" before I made that tragic decision!) or normal ones, questioning why the delicious baked goods are right next to the octopus legs, or trying to figure out how many euros you have in coins.

September 26 - Castillo de Sagunto: Today we had the day off for a school trip into Sagunto! It started at nine and we took the bus into town where Wednesday Market was taking place. Ana, one of our teachers, led the tour into the ancient (and later refurbished) Roman theater where she told all about the history of Sagunto.

After visiting the Santa Maria church and the theater/fortress, we went back down to town to the market. There were so many things for sale, from cell phone cases, to grannie panties, to baby shoes. Then there was the food area with all kinds of fresh fruits and veggies. Justin and I each got churro for €1 and Rachel got several large delicious peaches from a nice lady selling fruit.

September 25 - Word of the Day: Yesterday was the long day and it was very hard. I went to a total of five classes which was completely overwhelming when all of them were in Spanish. Sometimes even days like that at Union can be overwhelming when you have back-to-back classes all day. After so long, I was SO tired of hearing Spanish and trying to figure out what was going on.

This morning I woke up feeling refreshed and ready for my challenge. My day was much better, I had only three classes and even though they were full of rapid Spanish-speaking and confusing homework, I felt better overall. After talking with Justin and Seth I realized that we are all in the same boat and even if I think others are WAY ahead of me, chances are I'm still doing ok.

While working on some homework, I came to a sentence that translates roughly to "Learning another language will help enhance your self-confidence." Since it was in Spanish I had to read it a few times to understand what it was saying, but one word I did NOT have to type into google translate was autoconfianza. It's exactly what I need to get me through the year, and when I AM bilingual (and I will be!) I will have the experience to say "I did that" and I will have the confidence to know that I can do anything I put my mind to.

September 24 - el fin de semana (WEEKEND!!): The best part about church was the singing, since the words were on the screen and we could try to follow along. But after only a few songs it was over, and thus began what seemed like an extremely long sermon. We haven't gotten our Spanish Bibles yet either, so we couldn't even follow along. Still, it was interesting to see how everything worked. For this week we decided to go to the English Sabbath School since I for one was feeling very drowsy from all the difficulty understanding!

The best part about Sabbath for me was our 5:00 hike up the mountain (maybe it's a hill to some, but for this Kansas girl, it's a full on mountain) where we could see the view of Spain all around us. To the east was the Mediterranean, to the south we could see the tall buildings of Valencia, and everywhere else was beautiful hills, orange groves, and vistas.

September 22 - Viernes: When we got to the Marcadora (a little grocery store market) in Sagunto, we decided to each buy something for lunch. Seth and I each bought a loaf of bread, Jessica got cheese, and Justin and Rachel went in on grapes. We sat outside in an area near a little monument (or something) and ate our little lunch.

September 21 - Mi dormitori: I'm going to use this post to tell about some things in Spain that are different than in the US or different than I expected. Like I've said before, the prices of some things are surprising. It's so funny to be that they sell Little Debbies (or something very similar) in the individual packets for almost $4 a piece! Most of them are at least €3. It's totally outrageous. The nice thing is that all the fresh baked bread and pastries are pretty cheap!

Another thing I notice a lot here is the smells. Two nights ago it rained quite a bit, and yesterday the air was thick and humid but smelled so good! We think it is some kind of plant that gives off a pleasant scent when it rains, but we're not sure. It smells sort of like cinnamon sugar or something like that.

September 20 - Spanglish: Today is considered our first day of classes and they announced the groups. I was hoping realistically to get into the B group (intermediate). I wanted to make it to C (advanced) but the test had been so hard that I didn't think I had a chance. When they hadn't announced my name in A, B, or C, I thought they forgotten me! Much to my surprise, they announced both Justin and I in D!!!! I'm so excited but also nervous that I won't be able to keep up since everyone else seems to have a much bigger vocab than me.

So far I've signed up for a Phys Ed class, which this quarter is rock climbing, and also History of Spain & Europe, and Folklore, which is a class that almost everyone is taking and it's about culture, fiestas, festivals, music, dance, and all things Spanish. My group can't take Flamenco until next quarter, but I think that I'm going to! Surely it will be entertaining to put 20 or 30 Adventist kids in a room and ask them to dance!

The first class we took was Folklore, with groups D-F together. It was intimidating because there are some kids in that class that are already fluent in Spanish! The teacher's name is Anna and she is so nice! She speaks very clearly for us and doesn't talk too fast. To my surprise, I actually understood a fair amount of the information! There were a few things that we discussed amongst ourselves at the end of class, but mostly the info was clear. That first class really helped my nerves and my confidence. Even though it was tricky to catch it all, I felt a lot better than I did yesterday after the test!

September 20 AM: - Wednesday morning I think most of the nearly 100 ACA kids woke up with a slight dread of the entrance exam. All of the orientation was in Spanish, even the teachers that do speak English did not do so, so we can get used to hearing Spanish. They talked about classes, rules, who to talk to for various needs, and the calendar of events. Then it was time to take the entrance exam. We spent the next hour or so attempting to answer 100 questions in Spanish. I didn't feel too good about it; it was sort of a confidence buster. The first 50 questions were doable but not easy, and during the second half I was totally totally lost.

Then the best part of my day came. It was a man from Iberia Air and he had 6 suitcases! I quickly tried to explain to him that I didn't speak much spanish and I didn't know where the dean went. He said he needed someone to sign for them, and right then someone came in who took care of it. All the while I wondered if it was my lucky day and my bags had shown up. Rachel walked in and I grabbed her and went to look in the back of his van. When I saw my suitcases I was sooooo happy! Poor Rachel's are still missing but hopefully they will arrive today. Anyway, it was like Christmas.

September 20 - Dia Uno: Like I said, the first night was very hard for me. With no AC my room was hot and stuffy and I was muy cansado (very tired) from my travels. I didn't have luggage to unpack and I hadn't figured out the internet system yet. I found some of the guys who are Justin's friends and ate with them, and they said we could all meet up half an hour later to go to la playa (the beach) and Carrefour (basically a European Walmart). Since I still didn't have new clothes, I borrowed some shorts and wore my one extra top I brought.

Going to Carrefour was so interesting! Even though most of the products were the same or nearly the same that we have in the US, it was funny to us which items were expensive and which were pretty cheap. For example, the makeup was outrageous... sometimes almost $20 USD for a basic L'oreal foundation.

When I returned I found that someone had moved in with me! I have a new roommate named Kari. She's from Southern and this is her junior year too. I was so glad to have someone to talk to since I was lonely in my room at night. Later I remembered that Rachel was supposed to fly in at six, and I was so excited when I realized that she should be here any minute! Just as I walked downstairs to the dorm lobby, I saw a van pull up with mi mejor amiga (my best friend) inside! We greeted each other with a big hug (and of course a few tears on my part), unable to believe that we had actually made it through all the airports and flight changes. I was excited to help her unpack, and asked her where her bags had gone. Lo and behold, they were lost too!

September 19 - Are we there yet? We arrived in Paris at the Charles de Gualle airport. We spent a total of nine hours there after missing our flight to Valencia. There were five of us in a group together and only three spots on a later flight at 4:00 to Valencia. Justin and I volunteered to let the others go while we waiting until 6 PM to catch a plane to Madrid and then an 11 PM plane to Valencia.

Finally, finally, it was time to board for Madrid. The Delta Airlines guy in Paris told us we would have one flight via Air France and then we had to use Air Iberia for the last flight. This presented a problem for our checked baggage. He told us he couldn't check it through so we would have to show them our little baggage claim sticker so they would know to take it to Madrid. Apparently it wasn't that easy... We went to check in with Air Iberia and that's when everything got tricky. They told us that our luggage was probably waiting somewhere in the terminal we had just come from, and that we had to go back and get it. But with buses and the size of the terminal, it would take so long that we could miss our flight. Long story short, after a lot of running, tears (on my part of course) and more confusion, we decided to head back and get on our plane and hope for the best.

In the long run, we made it to Valencia by midnight even though our bags didn't. We later found out that another girl who was in our group of five lost her bags too (along with several other ACA kids) and everyone, girls and guys included, was SO helpful with letting us borrow and use their stuff until we could find ours. Even though my first night was very rough (I got to my room and spent the night alone with no internet, baggage, or roommate... and those of you who know me know that I'm a weeper) and there are still moments that make me miss everything back home so much, I know that the friends I'm making are going to be some of my best friends by the time this is done.

September 10 - Pack Rat: Of all the things that I've expected to be difficult during the next few days, packing was not one of them. I'm usually excited to pack for trips and although the idea of packing nine months of supplies into two suitcases didn't sound easy, I didn't think for a minute that it would be anywhere near as difficult as it actually was! I don't usually consider myself a SUPER high-maintance girl with clothes (since I get all of them thrifting) but it turned out to be super hard to cut out some of my favorite clothes.

Anyway, after a long day of packing, repacking, and looking at airline requirements (which, by the way, make me CRAZY) I'm almost totally done. I just have to prep my carryon, photocopy my documents, and zip my suitcases! Both are under 50 lbs. so I'm very excited about that.

August 6 - Viva la Visa: Applying for and actually obtaining a student visa should be major resumé material. I'm not aware of any project I've done for classes or work that's taken so much planning, communication, and just plain frustration as getting a student visa. Think having to call and go to the DMV twenty times, only most of it's in Spanish and most of the workers are even less helpful than the grumpy driving test people. Ok, you get the idea... 

There is a list of about 80 things you have to do before you actually have your visa appointment in one of six appointed cities across the country. These fun tasks include background checks, being fingerprinted, letters and paperwork in español, doctor's notes, money orders, and purchasing expensive express mail envelopes. When I was finally called up to the window after nearly an hour of waiting, the only thing I didn't have was a photo copy of my driver's license. The man behind the glass told me that it was OK and I shouldn't have any problems. 

At last we were done (I'll spare you the boring details of the tedious two months prior to the appointment) and much to my surprise, my passport came back in the mail exactly one week later! Here's to never going through this process again and the next year in España!


A Child Leaving for Foreign Lands
 
Our daughter is packing her bags, God, for her first trip to foreign lands.
Bless her; keep her enthusiasm high (and my own nervous apprehension safely hid.)
 
Thank You for this wonderful opportunity for her. Thank You that You
will help her to be equal to all its challenges. Give her courage, Lord,
give her judgment, and give her wisdom beyond her years.
 
Bless the people she will travel with, and the others she will meet.
Help her to learn from them as they will learn from her. Let your love shine
through all her new relationships, warming and blessing them, 
so that only good will come of this venture.
 
Joy and understanding, and lives forever enriched.
 Keep her safe, Lord, wherever she is. Keep her well.
 
Stay close to her so that she doesn’t get too lonely or homesick or discouraged. 
(But don’t let her get too busy to keep in touch with us)
 
We love her so much, Lord, and she will be so far away from us, 
this daughter who is leaving for foreign lands.

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