Universidad de Burgos, Spain
Major: Secondary Education English
I have never been so close to a major tragedy than I was when the Paris bombings happened in November. I remember feeling disarmed, like the rug of my expectations of what would happen in Europe had been pulled out from under me. I wasn’t expecting anything of that gravity to follow my friend beckoning me to the TV and saying, “Something’s happening in Paris.” I was in the north of Spain when I heard, so I was about as close to Paris as Kalamazoo is to Ontario but for the Spanish it was right next door. I remember the barkeeper crossing herself as the report played on the TV and several Spanish men sitting at the bar shaking their heads. I could only stand and stare.
People were on edge and nervous the days following the attacks. Some of the Spanish people were seen mourning for lost friends and French folks they had never even met. I got home to Burgos from the north and talked about what had happened with my host parents. They acknowledged how terrible it was with heavy hanging heads. I asked them if they knew anyone in Paris right now and they gratefully said no. I asked them if they thought anything was going to happen in Spain and they said that they doubted it, so they weren’t too nervous about the prospect. They didn’t expect an attack on Barcelona or Madrid so soon after an attack so close. There were some unsettling claims the following days, however, that said that ISIS wants to attack the south of Spain to reclaim land that was once under Muslim control. Although I felt safe in the north of Spain, anything happening to Sevilla or Lisboa, a city that had treated me so well, was a thought that made me shiver. Life returned to normal a couple of weeks later, but the tension still lingered in the air, subtle, like the smell of cologne left behind after the wearer leaves the room.