This is Hannah and Eloise. They are two of my close friends here in Spain; Hannah came through SWAU and Elo came through Andrews. They actually met at the airport on their way to Sagunto, and discovered that they were attending the same school. When the shuttle picked them up and dropped them off at the dorm, the deans told them that they had already been assigned as roommates! We've been hanging out all year and I love these girls. 

Within those first few weeks, everyone at ESDES had the same conversations with everyone else here: Where are you from? What college or university to go to in the States? It was like Freshman Orientation at Union where you meet so many new people and try to remember which academies they are from. Because of this, it didn't take me long to realize that Elo was from the north and Hannah was from Texas. I told her that I had thought about going to SWAU and asked if she liked it. I soon learned that she had never attended school there, she had actually graduated from another Christian college and was going through SWAU since she lived in Keene. Then came the shocker: "I'm not actually an Adventist" she told me. 

The main question after this, for me, was "why?" Hannah had already graduated with a degree in Spanish and English (just like I'm working on!) and it seemed strange that she would pick our program out of so many options for studying abroad. She is a member of the Church of Christ and was looking for a safe program with students who care about studies, learning, culture, and who had morals similar to her own. I was so impressed! She told me she was relieved at her first impression and that she was enjoying it already. 

Hannah and I have been friends for two months now and in that time we've had lots of discussion about this SDA group she's thrown herself into. Some of my first words to her were, "You are SO brave!" I know that I could never through myself into a whole year abroad, knowing absolutely know one, and not even knowing that I could find "Adventist Connections" that are so prevalent in our church. Hannah admitted that she had been a bit nervous but decided to join ACA anyway. Living in Keene, she does know some about the SDAs and once she arrived she realized that she fit right in. We have asked her lots of questions about her church and have answered many about our own. I asked her if it was very strange to her to transition to suddenly observing Friday night to Saturday night as Sabbath instead of Sunday. She told me that it was a bit strange at first but that she enjoys our view of rest and relaxation for a whole 24 hours. We also reviewed some lingo she would likely here, such as "haystacks" "frichick" and "veggie meat." 

I admire Hannah for all that she has done. I respect her religion as I know she respects ours. I love learning about the differences and similarities between us and what it means to each. I told her that I have been wanting to blog about her courage in coming to ESDES with ACA. It turns out she had just written a blog for her friends about us! You can read her blog here

Being here in Spain is teaching me more than just how to travel, how to speak Spanish, or how to make new friends. I'm learning more every day how each of us can get along even with differences, when we realize that we all have common goals. It might sound cliché, but it's true. Many of us have differing religious, political, or cultural views, but we all have something in common. It could be passion for language, love of God, interest in new cultures, or longing to travel. 

I'm so proud of my friends for everything that they have done to be here. I'm also so proud that we all get along and love each other without thinking twice about our differences. 
Auntie Judy
11/24/2012 11:26:51 pm

Oh Shelby...I can't even tell you how much I enjoyed this! You're studying, seeing our beautiful world, and meeting such amazing people.....making new friends is one of the best parts of college. And you are such a good writer. Seems like I already know Hannah...but of course she's sweet, just like you!


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