Letters from abroad: The earth below my feet

Angela Mardock
Senior Angela Mardock is spending the fall semester studying abroad in Spain. (Photo provided by Angela Mardock)

By Angela Mardock, guest columnist

Sitting on the airplane, I began to realize this was all becoming a reality and not just a dream.  Not that the two heavy suitcases and a backpack didn’t bring things into perspective, but it was the sudden change in the atmosphere and environment that really made things… real.  All the flight attendants began to speak in Spanish and here I was, the American student who knew how to ask what their names were and their ages.

Upon arrival, I had to find my way to the terminal where I was to meet the other students.  First challenge: I had no idea where that terminal was.  All the signs were in Spanish, which made it that much more challenging.  Luckily after about an hour of searching, I found our meeting point and so the adventure began.

As we drove and visited different towns and cities, I couldn’t help but create my own soundtrack to this experience.  Nothing is better than some folk/acoustic music while on a road trip, not that I am biased or anything.  To be quite honest, I felt and still feel as if I am in a movie and words or pictures don’t come close to doing it justice.

I am now in the land where the mode of transportation is mainly walking and if you are lucky, transportation is by scooters, bikes and roller blades.  As I walk down cobblestone roads, I see cathedrals and homes with cracks and carvings that have hundreds of years of history in them.  If only walls could talk.

This is a place where matadors and flamenco dancers are legend.  The people are famous for their art and the talents they have come to master.  While they perform in their old fashioned clothes, decorated with intricate embroidery and jewels, I can’t help but marvel at what they do.

Photo provide by Angela Mardock

Everything seems to move at a slow but beautiful pace, and I understand why.  If one is going to walk everywhere (and by everywhere, I mean miles and miles) one might as well be looking at something beautiful and take the time to appreciate while passing by.  I am lucky enough to cross the Triana Bridge to class everyday.  It is one of the town’s most famous bridges.  On it, couples that are in love will buy a physical

lock, put their initials on it, and lock it to the bridge.  Once it is locked, they both throw the key into the river as a symbol of their never-ending love.  So romantic!

I am surrounded everyday with Kings and Queens as well as vendors and beggars.  I walk down the road and see a beautiful cathedral on one side and a street of artists selling their handmade goods on the other.  I can keep walking and see azulejos covering a grandeur plaza and traffic on the street right next to it.  It is as if the time is confused as to what generation it is, and I absolutely love that.

This is a place where kids play soccer in the park until 10 p.m. and families are together outside until midnight.  All the restaurants and cafes have outdoor seating so everyone, and I mean everyone, can enjoy the evening weather.  I am absolutely in love with this city and this culture.  I may not be able to be in complete conversation with the family that I have been adopted into, but a smile and a laugh is understood in every language.

Photo provided by Angela Mardock

I am missing my SNU family, but I am incredibly excited about being a Spaniard for the next three months.  I will embrace the tapas and siestas.  I will embrace the language and all that the city has to offer.  This semester I am studying abroad and I cannot tell you how exciting it is.  Although there are many challenges and I may not be fluent in Spanish, I am confident in saying that this will be a life-changing experience. In all honesty, it has already started to be just that.  The Lord is doing some amazing things and I can’t wait to see what He does after three months.  This semester, I want to live out the adventure and go wherever my blistered feet will take me.  Until next time, hasta luego.

Editor’s Note: You can read more about Angela Mardock’s adventures on her blog. For more information about study abroad opportunities, contact Dr. Don Dunnington at the Center for Global Engagement.

Related Articles: Tesica Starkey’s experiences in the Middle East and the importance of studying abroad.

  1. Hi Angela,
    Let me introduce myself. I am Evelyn (Mardock) Harriman. I am the sister of your Grandpa Wendell Mardock. So what am I to you?? My husband (Harold) and I spent about 40 yrs. in Latin America, as missionaries. The last three of those years were in Paraguay. I became acquainted with your Dad on one of our furloughs, when he was just a little guy. Now he has grown up and become a wonderful man who with his wife, have accommplished wonderful things for Jesus sake.

    I really did enjoy your article. You are an excellent writer. May the Lord bless you real good and
    maybe during these weeks ahead He will give you an indication of the direction He wants your life to take.

    We live in the little town of Upland, Indiana, where Taylor University is located. We are just a few miles from the World Gospel Mission headquarters. WGM is the mission we served with in S.A. I had two brothers, Wendell and Marvin who are now in heaven. I am 87 years of age and I want my life to continue to tell for Jesus during whatever time I have remaining.

    I have enjoyed chatting wwith you.

    Evelyn Mardock Harriman