Some of you may have noticed I disappeared from the blog for a while and that’s because last semester I studied abroad in Valencia, Spain! Living abroad for four months was one of the best experiences of my life, and after I came home I had a bit of reverse culture shock!
1) You remember what real school is like. Unless you’re majoring in a foreign language or international studies, you probably aren’t taking too many classes required for your major while you’re abroad. When I went to Spain I didn’t take a single music class and was studying mostly Spanish language and history. I also was only taking twelve credit hours instead of my usual 18.5 at Nazareth. This meant lots of free time and lots of exploring the city. When I started my first semester back in the US, I definitely missed this. What do you mean I have three papers due this week?
2) You keep making people uncomfortable by standing too close. Europeans (and pretty much every other country outside the US) have much smaller bubbles of personal space than we do! They stand much closer to your face when having a conversation; they always hug, and typically kiss you on both cheeks whenever they greet you. When I came home to the states I was constantly weirding people out by standing twelve inches from their face while we talked.
3) Sometimes you can’t think of the word in English. This one pretty much speaks for itself. You spend a whole semester speaking another language so it’s inevitable that eventually you will start to have serious problems with word-finding in your native tongue. I can’t tell you how many times I was talking to someone and got stuck trying to think of the word for some random object: “Hey mom could you pass me a….cuchillo…cuchillo…knife?”
4) Driving is WONDERFUL. Other countries tend to rely on public transportation a lot more than we do, not to mention the fact that I obviously didn’t bring my car abroad with me. So, I ended up using the subway just about every day to go to and from class, or to get to restaurants and stores downtown. Unfortunately, subways in Europe don’t run 24 hours a day, so my life relied on the schedule of the metro. If it was after 11 pm and I was out with friends in the city center and needed to go home, I either had to pay for a cab or walk forty-five minutes. (I walked 9/10 times). After I came home and had my car again, I didn’t even know what to do with all of my freedom. I started going to Wegmans religiously at 2 am just because I could.
5) You feel homesick even though you’re home. So you come home, and you’re so excited to see your family. You hug, you kiss, you cry, your parents take you to a fancy dinner to celebrate, you tell everyone about your experiences, and then you just fade back into your life in the states. But after about a week, you start to miss things from your life abroad. Whether it’s wanting to meet your Irish friends at a pub downtown or craving eating your host-mom’s food while watching Two and a Half Men in Spanish with her. You put your roots down in a new country and now that you have two homes, you’ll always dream about returning to your life abroad.