Sitting in my bedroom at my home stay and looking out my window, I’m reminded of home. It’s strange to me that while I’m over 5,000 miles away from Bellingham, in a completely different country, it doesn’t seem so far away. Maybe it’s because I’m looking out at the pouring down rain and thick fog that’s hanging low on the mountains… I mean, what’s more Bellingham than that? But it also might have to do with the fact that over the last few months, this place has begun to feel more and more like home.
Archives for November 2017
Mid Program: Everyday life, surprises, and advice
Living here in Marburg is peaceful, and the living accommodations in the international student dorms are exceptional. My dorm room has twice the space of my shared dorm room back home, and comes with a sink, walk in closet, bed with bedding (there is even a cleaning service for the bedspread but as I’ve been out of town most weekends I haven’t tested it yet), recliner, and several sets of shelves. The rooms are cozy even without anything in them. My dorm is also next to a residential area- something which let my friend and I visit a local Haunted House on this past Halloween. We were able to enter despite being strangers, and it was the high point of our holiday~
With only 5 more weeks in the program, it’s high time to reflect on the experience thus far. Although there are not many posts here, I am writing consistently in a travel journal, and will post entries from there after the program is over. There is a balance between writing about things so you can remember them, and experiencing new things so you can write about them later. Writing in a paper journal gives me the time to make more memories, as writing about experiences twice takes twice as long.
This entry shall BRIEFLY cover a few topics. I am not messing around here. I’ve written this flippin entry TWICE and forgot to save it TWICE. I poured my heart out on two separate occasions and have nothing to show for it. TWO times I crafted beautiful sentences chalked with wit, whimsy, walliteration. But I’m done now. This final draft is like, that the third marshmallow you cook over the fire after you mistakenly roasted the first two because you were spacing out thinking about the hotdogs your dumbest friend threw into the fire without considering that we are about to camp in bear/Sasquatch country. I think what I mean is I probably had legitimate things on my mind when I forgot to save the previous drafts. Like a gruesome squatch attack.
As I prepare to go home I am beginning to realize that I am going to miss many things. But there are things that I have missed about the United States. The main thing that I miss from the United States is my family. Traveling and living half way across the world and only being able to see them through Skype or talk to them on the phone has been difficult. The other thing that I have missed is the variety of food. In Spain there is not much variety when it comes to ethnic food. The main type of food here is Spanish food and sometimes I long for Mexican or Asian food, which I cannot find here.
The thing that I will miss the most from Spain is constantly being surrounded by history and being immersed in the Spanish language. I will miss the winding streets with balconies and wide open plazas. I will miss going to the art museums and having a picnic in the park. Many of the quintessential Spanish things I will miss the most.
I do not think I will experience reverse culture shock when I return. The hardest part of culture shock was when I first arrived to Spain. There were a lot of different things I had to adjust to and I had adjusted just as my time here is coming to an end. On the other hand returning to the US will not be as difficult because I am familiar with it.
Since I will be returning to the US before the school year starts I will have more time to adjust. I plan to resume my daily life and begin to make things normal again to lessen the effects of reverse culture shock. I plan to share as many photos as I can with my family and friends and share with them my experience. My study abroad experience has been an important part of my education and I plan to incorporate as much as I can of what I have learned into my life and in the future. I plan to maintain the friendships that I have made here and to continue to communicate with my host family. My Spanish is a part of my everyday life so this will be much easier to maintain than other things that I have learned. One thing that I have learned while abroad is to remain engaged and informed with events not only in the United States but other countries as well and that it is an effective way to remain internationally engaged.
Honestly, it’s taken me a while to sit down and write this post because I’ve been thinking about how I want to share my experiences, and it’s taken me some time to integrate my feelings and experiences.
The first week or so I experienced a lot of mixed emotions and culture shock. I’m in Reggio Emilia, Italy, so it’s a very small town that only has a few restaurants (that I know about/ really love to eat at), all the food in the grocery store is different (duh), so I didn’t know what to make at first. A lot of businesses and restaurants close around lunch time, so many people aren’t out at that time, but much later in the night. Italians don’t say “excuse me” or “sorry” when they bump into you on the street, because they just have different gestures than Americans.