It's Monday and my week is off to a great start! This morning I had a test in Gramática that I studied for all day yesterday, and I think it finally paid off! Most of us are having a hard time adjusting to the academics here so it feels good to know that you are finally getting into the rhythm of school. Then after a full day of classes, I came back to the dorm to find that an envelope from my mom arrived, carrying the most important piece of plastic I have: my new debit card.

Some of you may not know, but less than a month ago, I had a terrible, terrible week. We had just returned from our trip to Andalucia and I was left with a a stomach bug from Morocco, not enough sleep, and a week of school before going to Paris. In addition, at the time it felt like everything was going wrong. We got back our first grammar test and it was muy malo. I kept feeling sick and was worried about the upcoming trip to France. A package from my mom got lost in transit after 3 weeks of waiting and we had to do quite a bit of hunting to find it. Then, Friday, the day before going to Paris, I went into town to get cash for my trip from the ATM and lost my wallet within five minutes of withdrawal. 

Needless to say, I was a bit of a mess. The thoughts that ran through my mind were rather pathetic and typical of self-pity-parties. Why does everything always happen to me? Why do I have such bad luck? I just want to go home! But alas, after problem-soving, generous friends and amazing parents, all of these problems have vanished. And you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Last week was Semana de Oracion (week of prayer) here at ESDES. Granted, I didn't attend every night since the sessions were quite long and I had a good deal of homework, but I did go to several. The second night the speaker said something in Spanish that I really appreciated. Basically what he said was, "Problems: Do you see them as an opportunity or a setback?" Yes, losing your debit card and having to use your friends as personal ATMs for two weeks is a bit of a setback. Yes, having to visit the post office and discuss the whereabouts of your package at length isn't fun. However, I have never had to speak so much Spanish at one time since I've been here.

During that week, I asked the deans several times where my package was, since I had received a slip and they had taken everyone's slips to the post office and gotten them all together. When I asked for mine they didn't have it. After a lot of research I realized that the package was, indeed, somewhere at ESDES but not in my possession. I talked with the deans, the assistants, and all the girls who help out in the dorm, explaining and re-explaining my problem. Finally one dean took me to the post office and we at last recovered the lost box. During that whole week, I spoke so much Spanish and learned so many new words! If I hadn't had the problem, or opportunity, I would have probably spent all those afternoon with my friends, speaking English. 

The same goes for everything else. The deans here are so, so kind. They know that there's a lot we can't do on our own here and they do everything they can to help. Vanessa, who works with the deans, always has a smile and helps everyone with everything. She is the very first person I met when I arrived on campus and she showed me to a room and gave me a big hug when I teared up at the thought of spending my first night in another country all alone. Last week, she drove me back and forth to the police station to fill out a request for my missing wallet. We chatted the whole time, and she was so patient with my Spanish and helped me learn some new words. 

Everyone has problems. Everyone has bad luck sometimes. What I've learned from this year is not to throw a pity-party every time something goes wrong. The first step is to fix the problem and then find ways to avoid it in the future. We have a joke in Humanities where I work about "first world problems." The typical example is "There's not a parking spot for my Ferrari that's close enough to my yacht!" So when I'm so sad about "I lost my debit card in Spain and now I have to pay back friends for my trip to Paris." how about "WOW! I get to live in Spain and go to Paris for a week! How is anything bad about that?"

It's not. Not at all.
11/12/2012 10:16:31 am

Oh, Shelby, I'm so happy you're off to a good start this week and that you did well on your Gramatica test! I feel so bad about your week prior to Paris. Through it all, sounds like your friends are truly good friends, your deans and school personnel are there to be kind and helpful to you, and that you learned much, much Spanish. I can tell there will be no drowning in a pity-puddle for you! I'm so proud of you, Shel---now have a good rest of the week.

Sheri Seibold
11/12/2012 01:19:29 pm

What a great blog, words of wisdom I will try to remind myself of every time I'm headed to the pitying room of my mind. Not one of your beautiful photos in this post and yet so wonderful. love ya goo

Auntie Judy
11/12/2012 07:35:24 pm

And I think that all of your "first world problems" are growing you into a really excellent writer. This blog post made me giggle and tear up...all those emotions that a good writer wants her readers to feel! Thanks for sharing the contents of your heart with us....your honesty and introspective spirit makes me ever so proud of you.

Tu Tía Carmen
11/13/2012 12:49:52 pm

"I lost my debit card in Spain and now I have to pay back friends for my trip to Paris."

You made me lol! And also to reflect that it's a life-long learning curve to place our 1st world *problems* in true perspective. We have so much to be grateful for!

Thank-you, dear niece. I'll be remembering you whenever I have to tell myself to put on my big-girl panties!


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