Rachel, outbound to Spain

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First off, I want to talk about how grateful I am to have had all the opportunities that I have to travel and live the experiences that I am living. I wouldn’t have all this if it wasn’t for my parents and Rotary. My trip to Israel was truly life changing, I learned more than I could have ever imagined. My great aunt has been a tour guide for 25+ years, so, as you can imagine, she knows the territory and history quite well. I visited the Western Wall, The Jordan River (where Jesus was baptised), Tel Aviv, The Holy Sepulchre, the Yad Vashem museum, The Dead Sea, etc. I especially enjoyed it the trip because I visited things that I might not have visited if I went alone or with friends. The thing that left the biggest mark on me was visiting a Druze village. I saw where a Christian, Muslim and Druze families were neighbors, what an example of peace! In this village there was only one Jew still living there.. When we arrived to the village we were going to eat dinner at a restaurant but it was closed, a Druze woman invited us to eat at her restaurant. The woman’s husband gave us a tour of their town and told us all the history of the Druzes people while his wife cooked. The food was incredible, I’ll attach a picture below. My time in Israel is very special to me; I became in touch with my religion on another level and spent time with my grandparents and my great aunt and uncle. I believe that if I went to Israel with the perspective of just an American it would have been very different.. What I mean by this is, I went with a multicultural perspective. Before doing exchange I would have never realized that the types of foods the people in Israel eat for certain meals, the times they eat, what times most people go to buy groceries is all part of their culture. 

My dad came to visit me for 2 weeks and went back to Florida yesterday. We did a road trip through the south of Spain. At first I was a bit nervous that it would be weird seeing my dad after 8 months but it was as if not a second had passed. I had an incredible time on the trip. We went to beautiful beaches and explored cities with loads of history. The south of Spain is a lot different than the northeast of Spain, where I live. I have 7 weeks left in Spain and I am anxious about saying goodbye to the people who have been like family to me for the past months. This weekend I have my Rotary district conference in a city named Santander in the north of Spain. I am so excited to be reunited with all of my exchange friends! On the 30th I have another exchange student coming to stay with me for 9 days and then I am going to stay with them in the Canary Islands for a week. I feel like I am living in a dream everyday, words can’t even describe how grateful I am for my exchange year an d all the incredible people I’ve met. 

I mentioned in my last post that I was going to visit my family in the Basque country. I had an incredible time, the Basque country is beautiful, and so green! I spent time with my uncle, aunt and second cousin. I visited the town where my grandfather is from and I met one of my grandpa’s sisters. It was unbelievable feeling to see where my grandfather lived for the first 20 years of his life before immigrating to the United States. I really felt connected with my roots. Having Spanish blood is the main reason I hoped Rotary would send me to Spain. I remember at the district 6970 flag revealing night and I got a Spanish flag and I felt overwhelmed with joy. That was over a year and a half ago and I can’t believe this journey is almost over. I look forward to becoming a Rotex and helping the future outbounds. Thank you a million times over to my supporting family and Rotary for making this year possible.