I’ve been in Spain almost a month, which is crazy, really crazy. I only have 4 months left here and it already feels like it’s going to go so fast. At first, there was only 4 of us, including myself, in the class. However by week 2 2 more people had joined us, and now one has returned to their home country so we are five. This is how it will be, because it’s a language school and people come in at different levels and some stay for 2 weeks or so whereas others are here for months the class size varies from week to week.
On the first Thursday after classes started, the 22nd, there was a holiday in Valencia. So no classes, but I decided to go to the lake as the school organise different activities that we can go on. It was there that I had a strange encounter with someone who would go on to become one of my classmates.
She walked up to me and first she asked if I speak english, it’s the standard question, I suppose because we all have varying levels of spanish and so people default to english when they aren’t sure. I said yes, and she asked if she could stroke Isla. When people ask, I don’t mind, so again I said yes. At this point, everything was fairly normal.
Then the real questions started.
Her: So, I can’t imagine what your world is like.
I sort of stood there, trying to process this before too much time past.
Her: So, do you speak with any other…um…sight impaired people.
Me: Yeah, some…
Her: Oh right, so do you talk to people who can see?
By this point my mind is slightly blown. She seems to think that either I only talk to blind people, or sighted people.
Me: Well, I talk to both.
Her: Oh right. I can’t imagine what it’s like for you.
I don’t respond, what answer is there? It’s my life, it’s all i’ve known. I travel, spend time with friends, watch tv, forget to do homework…I am so incredibly average yet she thinks my life must be so different.
Her: I’m not sure what word I should use, for someone who can’t see.
This is an easy one, and I’m kind of relieved.
Me: Blind is fine.
Honestly, I felt a little uncomfortable by the whole exchange, and it sounds terrible but I felt negatively about her from there on. It wasn’t because she didn’t know anything about blind people, but more because it was all she wanted to talk about. Whereas other students asked me if I was in school or did I have siblings, the first thing she said to me was that she couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be a blind person. I couldn’t put effort into trying to get to know her much after that, because a part of me felt like there was little point. Yes, I feel guilty for this kind of attitude. I am very, very selective with who I spend time with, and this does mean I probably exclude others very quickly. Not because I don’t like them, but because the effort it would take to get her to see me as more than a blind person was greater than I was willing to give to someone who would only be in Spain another week.
By contrast, my other classmates are totally different. Sometimes they ask me questions relating to being blind, more about my level of vision when I mentioned I could see a little. That’s totally normal, but mostly we’ve all talked about the differences between living here and our respective home countries, our families, tv, films, anything really.
The weather is making me so happy. It’s rained once in the month I’ve been here. Most days I have to wear a sweater, but just a very light one. Some days though I don’t even need that. If I could live somewhere like this all year round I know I would generally feel much happier.