Tori in Spain: The Story of Madrid

People keep asking me what my favorite parts of life abroad have been so far. Honestly, it isn’t the crazy, spontaneous trips, Instagram-perfect moments, or even the yummy tapas.  The simplest, slowest moments have been the sweetest. Watching the sunrise and set on my back porch, sipping espresso in the morning with my roommate, talking with my host mom after the kids go to bed, and snuggling with mi hermanito Juan. Long dinners, long conversations, and long days spent in solitude have made this time special. I feel like a story is being formed here, and every moment I remain in Madrid and am very present here, that story gets richer and richer.

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The more I fall in love with my family and friends and the story being told here, the less I am tempted to country hop all over Europe, because I want to discover more of what God has for me here. I think that places are significant, and investment in a place can lead to seasons of growth and deep connections. Even more than that, I think that people are important. People are what make places so special, and my family here has done that for me. Allow me to introduce you to the people who have added depth and dimension and wonder to the Story of Madrid.

My host mom Bella is absolutely amazing. Our conversations about Spanish politics, religion, food, favorite things, and our philosophies of life have truly been my favorite times of my entire trip. I love to learn from her and she is the only Spanish person who I feel fully understood by, since the language barrier often makes it hard for me to express myself to others.

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We just celebrated the first birthday of my little brother Juan(ito), whom I love dearly. He crawls into my room with a huge smile on his face, just wanting to play and love on me. He has a mischievous and adventurous personality, and has never met a stranger. He is constantly smiling and giggling and truly has contagious joy. I want to be more like Juan. My other little brother, Cesar, is 3 and he can’t decide if he loves or hates me. Regardless, we love to play pretend “caballeros” (knights) and engage in ferocious duels “encima de caballos con espaldas” (on horseback with swords). I always end up dead, but never before we swap some serious trashtalk in Spanish.

Last, but not least, my roommate Amalie! She has become one of my dearest friends here, and I am incredibly thankful for her. She is very committed to learning as much Spanish as she can and truly doing life within the culture of Spain rather than having a typical “Americans in Spain” study abroad experience. This has really helped shape my perspective on my time here and helped me learn so much. I love her philosophy of life, and treasure our many meals together, long walks in the park, and jokes about how intimidating and cool Spanish young people are. She is very special, and I’m not sure how I got so lucky to have been placed with her randomly.

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A couple days ago, I tripped on my way to school, my things went flying, I face planted, and my knee got bloody, swollen, and bruised. I couldn’t fully express myself to the man who was trying to help me and I had a breakdown. Here I am, injured, bleeding, and crying in a place where I still sometimes feel like I am not known and cannot make myself known due to the language barrier. However, when I got home, I talked to Bella about how I was feeling, Amalie checked out my knee, and I snuggled with Juan. Even Cesar was concerned, and I did not die at the hand of his sword that night. I am so thankful for a family here that loves me, knows me, and allows me to rest and lean into the simple moments of life alongside of them.

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