I leave Finland in two days. Time for a little venting and reflection.
Spain has many great things but what I’ve missed the most from home is the ease of communicating in a language that is comfortable to me. Although my Spanish has improved immensely it is still not nearly as comfortable as English. Nine months without being surrounded by my native language reminded me how fortunate I am to live in an environment that I find comfortable. Spain is a beautiful country and I’ve loved living here, what I will miss the most are the friends I’ve made while abroad and the beautiful places in Seville. Becoming friends with local students was one of the highlights of my semester, because of it I got to know Spain and its culture better. When I return home I don’t think I will experience any culture shock. While home for Christmas break I adjusted back to culture and had time to reflect on my first semester before going back to Spain. Now at the end of my second semester I am already familiar with the feeling of returning home after being gone for a long time. Now at the end of my nine months I’m ready to go back to the states and reengage with life at Western. Studying abroad provided me with many wonderful experiences that I would love to keep in my life. Speaking Spanish with native speakers is one experience that I plan on maintaining while I’m back in the states, Spanish friends and I have planned to keep speaking by Skype to practice. My nine months abroad have changed my appreciation for other cultures and have inspired me to travel more of the world.
I left the Hague for the final, and last moment ever in the history of time. It was raining, a slight drizzle agains the window pane…of my train. I am not sure if the true sentiments of that morning warrant such skillful poetry. Perhaps it is a hook for the reader. That’s you! How are you? Have you been learning your mathematics/taking your B12?
“Change is the only constant in life” – Unknown
It comes to the day that I’m packing up my bags and saying goodbye to the people I call my friends. The people who I have been living with in a foreign country for the last four months…
There have been so many ups and downs, so many different countries, so many challenges with the unfamiliar that I’ve had to face and of course, so many fun days…
At this time, three days from now, my plane will be landing in Seattle, and I’ll be home. In all honesty, it doesn’t even seem real yet. It’s hard to imagine not waking up in my cozy little bedroom, hearing my host mom and dad talking in the living room, and constantly being surrounded by French. It’s crazy to me how quickly a whole new way of life can become the norm, and I’d be lying if I were to say I wasn’t at least a little bit sad to leave it all behind.
“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”
-Winnie the Pooh
It’s almost time for me to leave Germany now. It’s Saturday today, and we’ll be leaving early on Thursday. I’ll miss this for sure. Here are some reflective question my school gave me that I think give some valuable incites into this experience:
We are now 12 days away from the end of my semester abroad, and to sum it up into one phrase, it’s been one crazy journey.
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.
So I’m in my ancestral home of Poland, visiting friends and family, and experiencing my own culture, and even a bit of history! After I had finished my study abroad in Lyon, one of the program coordinators asked me what I was doing after the program, and when I told her that I was going to Poland, her response was that my trip to Poland was going to be another amazing experience. Now I’ve been in Poland for about 3 weeks, and let me say she was right.
Ich habe mein Herz in Heidelberg verloren.
Totsiens means “goodbye” in Afrikaans, but I suppose “until next time” is what I’m really hoping for. These past couple of weeks have been absolutely amazing. Due to frantically finishing class assignments and then an incredible Garden Route Tour around the southern coastline (without my laptop or much wifi), I’ve neglected posting a bit. Hopefully this can sum everything up well. I finished my Philosophy and Ethics class with no trouble. It was quite interesting learning about different philosophical viewpoints like Utilitarianism and Deontology and tackling some controversial debate topics with these perspectives in mind. I’m really enjoying the open-book exams and 3-page final papers; wish my classes were always like that!
I am currently sitting in the Copenhagen airport waiting to hear the outcome of my standby status. Apparently the city didn’t want to let me go! At this moment though home is the only place I want to be. I have missed my family and friends so much and I cannot wait to see them when I finally get off the plane in Vancouver. Other than that the only thing I have missed about the states is the lack of pressure to be doing something every moment. It will be so nice to get to relax at home.
I will miss Copenhagen, and Europe in total so much. I will miss the air and the atmosphere. I will miss the cobblestone streets of Copenhagen and the graffiti-ed walls of Berlin. Interestingly, something I will miss the most about being abroad is hearing all the different languages. I have loved the white noise of people speaking, but not understanding them. I also will definitely miss the hotdogs!
I do not think that I was abroad long enough to experience reverse culture shock when I get back since I wasn’t fully immersed in my host culture.I see this as both a good and bad thing. I wish I could have been there longer, but it will be nice to go back with not struggles except jetlag. I almost immediately go back to work so I think throwing myself into the real world will help quite a bit with the sadness and any reverse culture shock I may have.
I have added many of my friends of social media and plan to keep up with their lives moving forward. I have met some wonderful people and I wish them all the very best in their lives. I have learned a lot about myself and being a global citizen while abroad and I can’t wait to bring that back with me. I have learned so much about identity and personal biases and how we can better deal with them and create a more inclusive world. I hope to influence others to think of the world as their home.
I think that in coming home, I might experience a bit of reverse culture shock. I feel that I have grown a lot as a person and as a teacher. One thing that will be interesting to readjust to will be eating all of my meals with a fork instead chopsticks and a spoon. I’m not overly concerned about reverse culture shock as I have maintained connections with my family and friends back home but I will have to wait and see how or if reverse culture shock will really affect me and to what degree. I’m hoping that this blog as well as the reflections that I kept during my teaching will support me in both sharing my experiences and transitioning back into my home culture. I also took many pictures to document my daily life so that I can share this experience with both my family and my friends.
In order to keep my study abroad experience as a key factor in my life, I hope to continue to foster the relationships that I have developed here both in professional relationships I have made in the school and the more personal relationships that I have maintained with family of my friends in the United States. I also hope that in the next 5-10 years I can return to Korea and teach again. There are many programs to facilitate this within Korea. I think that it would be a great way to continue to grow as both an educator and as a person. I also hope to continue to develop my Korean language skill. I am able to read Hangul (written Korean) and I can understand a small amount of what I read. I can also understand more that is said to me particularly in regards to food but I am not particularly skilled at speaking or writing Korean. My productive skills are lacking but I would hope that by the time that I might return to Korea my skills would improve a bit! I also plan to find ways to incorporate what I have learned particularly about English language learners in my school into my own future classroom and to use that knowledge to better my skill as a teacher.
Korea and the United states have several things in common but there are a lot of things that are different. There are things I can get and do in the United States that I cannot get or do here as well, there are things I can get and do here that I cannot get or do easily in the United States.