Lost in Spain

Wandering in Spain

My trip to Spain has been the toughest trip I have ever had. First, I lost my credit card at the airport. However, a lady sitting next to me on the airplane was the kindest person. She gave me 100€ to go to my host family’s house. Thanks to her, I made it to Valladolid. Yet I still had troubles to fix. I forgot to charge my phone so I had to find home without a map. However, everyone I asked for help was VERY, VERY KIND!! Thanks to them I finally made it to the house. Body language is the greatest skill.

My family and work

Spanish has been my top priority language to learn since it is the language that is spoken in so many parts of the world. I learned some Spanish, and started to talk with my host family in Spanish. I have done home-stay programs 5 times previously and I’m really happy that I am able to do home-stay where people speak a language that I totally have no clue about – yet! I have 3 host brothers. They all are so energetic and never let me take a break. I also have two brothers back in Tokyo so I am very used to this situation. The thing I like the most is how we always eat meals together, and we all sit down at the table and chat as a family. I will never get bored. Everything is crazy but I LOVE IT!!

Even though, my English is not perfect, being an English teacher is not difficult as I thought. I work at a YMCA camp, and that experience helps me a lot. I have many classes with little kids, and the teachers are all professionals. I feel comfortable here.


Being different

However, I found something that I have to solve during my internship. When I got off the train at Campo Grande station, located in the middle of Valladolid, the view I saw was just like how I imagined Europe to be, with beautiful brick buildings and pretty parks. I decided to walk to my host family’s house to explore the city (even though I knew that was going to take 40 minutes and I was with my 100-pound suit case). After a while, I realized a lot of people were glancing at me.

In Valladolid, it is unusual to see Asian people. I assume some students got surprised that an internship student from the U.S. is originally from Japan. A few students shouted as soon as they saw me. “Chino!” meaning that they thought I’m Chinese, even though I told them that I’m Japanese. I was so surprised, and I realized Spain is not like America. Those students were only 6 to 7 years old. Another student made his eyes slanted to represent Asians, since he did not know the word “Asian”. I began to understand that the students were not intending to be hurtful or make jokes. On that day, I realized the reason I’m here – to help create greater understanding among people, regardless of their difference.

I am keeping an open mind. Even with this experience of being different, my life here is wonderful. One of the teachers invited me to a futbol game. Playing soccer with my new Spanish friends is something that I can be proud of. And of course my host family is amazing. I wish for time to stop here forever!

About the author

My name is So Murata, and I'm from Tokyo, Japan. I'm majoring in mathematics at JCC on the Jamestown Campus. I am also a student athlete on the Jayhawks wrestling team. My hobbies are working out, cooking, reading, and learning foreign languages.