Hello, there, Dear Reader. It’s early afternoon here in New Hometown, Florida on Sunday, November 29, 2020. Currently, the temperature is 83˚F (28˚C) under sunny skies. With the wind blowing from the south-southwest at 5 MPH (8 KM/H) and humidity at 59%, the feels-like temperature is 85˚F (30˚C). The rest of the afternoon is supposed to remain sunny, and the forecast for tonight calls for partly cloudy skies and some rain early tomorrow morning. The low will be 69˚F (21˚C).
I don’t have any earthshaking news to share with you today, so I will just share one of the columns that I wrote about my study-abroad experience in Seville for my student newspaper after I arrived in the United States and went back on campus for the Winter Term of the 1988-89 academic year.
Spain was worth the expense and heartache it brought
(Catalyst, Opinions, March 16, 1989)
A few months ago and 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, I was sitting on a bench in Seville’s Cristina Park, thinking, as I often did, about things back home.
More specifically, I was thinking about my colleagues in the Catalyst staff and what was going on in the office while I was away.
I had been in Spain for three weeks, and although I had sent in some “copy” for them to edit (and hopefully publish), I hadn’t heard from anyone yet.
“Great,” I grumbled to myself as I sat on the park bench on that mid-October afternoon. “Here I am, 3,000 miles from home, feeling very depressed and I haven’t heard from the office yet.”
I had finally discovered that as much as I liked being a foreign correspondent, it was not (at least not at that particular moment) a very enviable position to hold in a college newspaper staff.
For starters, I had none of the usual facilities available to a professional reporter, i.e. telecommunications, underwater telegraph cables or even a computer.
My resources were just a bit more modest. To provide the 5,000-plus readers of this newspaper accurate accounts of 42 American students in Spain, I had a portable typewriter, a camera and a pad of air mail paper. Period.
Even so, this should have been sufficient for the task at hand, had I not had other things to do, such as attending classes and going on out-of-town trips.(You do study in a “study-abroad” program, you know.)
And, of course, there was the Spanish postal service to contend with.
Although 95 percent of the time most mail took a week to go from Spain to the United States, the remaining five percent of the time it involved my important mail to be affected by the “You Want It When?” corollary to Murphy’s Law.
To wit: a column I wrote in October (and sent, supposedly, via Special Delivery) did not arrive in three days as the Spanish postal worker who sold me the 200 pesetas’ worth of stamps assured me it would.
Actually, that column took two weeks to reach my colleagues here, just in time for the Dec. 1, 1988 issue.
Add to that “writer’s block,” jet lag, constant interruptions from annoying roommates and low morale, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what we collegiate foreign correspondents had to put up with.
My friend Michelle Kirby, who is a staff writer for Beacon, the North Adams State (Mass.) newspaper, had a bit more success at on-the-spot reporting than I, but fared no better at getting feedback from the home office.
“Look,” she said one day as we were working on a column, “I don’t mind doing this for the paper. It’s something different from what I do in North Adams, but I wish they’d tell me if my copy is getting there.”
“Yeah, but the folks back in the States have a lot on their minds and can’t spare the time to tell us anything,” I said.
“I know,” Michelle said, “but I still think it would be nice to hear from anyone at the office.”
“It sure would,” I said. “But it’s a moot point. We’re going to be home in a few weeks and we’ll see for ourselves what happened to our copy.”
As it turned out, things went well in the long run, even though at the time it didn’t look that way.
And when I’m asked whether or not it was all worth the expense, heartache and time involved, my reply is always the same.
It certainly was.
© 1988, 2020 Alex Diaz-Granados