The Gift of Gratitude

Por Kate Jonson

I’m a pretty huge fan of film. I especially love watching Spanish films so, before this trip, I was confident in my ability to understand Spain. However, things never really do turn out like they do in the movies, do they? When I first arrived in the city of Valencia, I was humbled a little bit. I tried speaking to the taxi driver on the way home- I failed. I tried asking a grocery store employee where the tea was- I failed. I tried ordering at a restaurant- I failed. The little sense of comfort that I thought I had, I lost, and it was a pretty jarring experience. At the end of the first day, I was pushed so far out of my comfort zone that I wanted to curl up in a little ball and get right back on the plane. But the one thing I was forgetting from that experience was that, in all of those embarrassing moments, I tried. One thing I’ve already learned from being here is that you can’t ever improve without trying. I ended up thinking about it from the reverse perspective- if I met a person who was learning English while in the US, would I look down on them for getting things wrong, or approaching me on the street to ask a question? Personally, knowing now how brave it is to do that, I would be impressed. 

In the end, I did find some comfort in this new country after all. Here’s a list of things that deserve my gratitude: The farms surrounding the beach look exactly like the ones near my family in Kilkeel. The buildings each seem to have their own separate lives and personalities. Meals are five courses, and despite the language barrier, are always filled with nice food, nice conversation and even nicer people. There is graffiti everywhere, but it fills the city with vibrant color, so nobody finds it that inappropriate. The Metro is always filled with the most interesting types of people. Strangers are kind in the big city, unlike a lot of other places. My friends are always with me, even though talking to each other in Spanish is a tad difficult. The gate to our house is my favorite shade of green. Even the Alpro yogurt is the same smooth, comforting yogurt that I’ve always enjoyed in Europe. From where I’ve been so far, Spain is a beautiful place filled with the most curious of things and people. I can’t wait to find more things to be grateful for. 

3 thoughts on “The Gift of Gratitude

  1. Kate, what a lovely and sincere post. You sound like you’re finding the perfect balance of being challenged and comforted by a new place in the world.


  2. Kate, I am impressed by how quickly you flipped the script in your self-talk! Keep trying, even when you feel like your brain might implode, and it will surprise you how much you will soak up like a sponge in these two weeks. Can’t wait to hear more!


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