Thursday, June 21, 2012

My 48 hour thoughts

So I've been asked to keep blogging. By more than one un-related person. Which means that people actually look forward to reading what I ramble about! (Yay!)
So here it is. I've been back in the USA for less than 48 hours. Thoughts so far are that I'm handling the reverse culture shock better than I assumed I would, which either means that I've just gotten lucky so far and the worst is yet to come (most likely) or that since I already went through it after study abroad I'm much better prepared for this time (but probably not). Because let's be honest; If it only took me 4 months to say hola and hasta luego to everybody I met (even once I got back home), then I've formed much worse hard and fast habits after being there for 9 months.

Jet lag. Aah jet lag. On Tuesday when I landed at O'hare I had already been traveling for 24 hours, and then after I had dinner with my Mom's family and made it back to Milwaukee and into bed, it was 6:30 in the morning Spain time (11:30 at home). I was exhausted. And both yesterday and today I've woken up all chipper and awake at 6am. Which means I'm exhausted again by 8 or 9. I miss staying up until 2.
Other thoughts are that driving in cars is scary. (Which I never thought I would say, because I've been known for my led foot all my driving years). But seriously! Matt picked me up from Chicago O'hare airport, and I spent the entire 40 minute drive to my grandparents house breathing deeply and trying to assure myself that he knew what he was doing. After only riding in coach buses that cruise at a comfortable 55 miles an hour all year, being a little car going 70 was quite the shock. Especially while driving through Chicago and Milwaukee traffic.

I've also noticed that I pause a lot more when I talk, or say things that sound a little weird grammar-wise. Just before I left Spain, I'd noticed that when I would try to think of a question in English, my thoughts would still come out in Spanish. I had to make a conscious effort to think in English. This wasn't so much a problem when I was with friends in Spain, because we all understood our strange mix of Spanish perfectly. Phrases like me da igual, vale, vámonos, qué quieres? está bien? un momento, más o menos, etc., were always said in Spanish. Always. But here, when I accidentally through in a Spanish word, more often than not I get a blank stare. So instead, I pause, think for a moment to find the word in English, and continue with my story. And save the Spanish rambling for my cat.
Customer service. Now here, is a problem. I don't like customer service anymore, I've decided. At least, not in restaurants. I would much rather pay a little less to be ignored and to enjoy my meal, for however long I decide to make it, in peace. Matt and I went to Denny's yesterday morning, and within 5 minutes of sitting down (I hadn't even looked at the menu yet) a waitress was rushing over to ask what we wanted and say sorry for the wait.
In Spain, it's an applause-worthy event if a waiter even looks at you 5 minutes after you walk in.
Oh America, we really need to learn how to slow down our pace of life a bit.

Here's another one. There's so much SPACE!!!! Even if I wanted to walk everywhere, (which I kind of do since I actually miss being able to use my legs after less than 48 hours) I couldn't. It's impossible. Everything is too spread out. While in Denny's yesterday I spaced out while looking at a field between 2 buildings and imagining how many Algecireño buildings would be squeezed into that space.

And finally, I've ease dropped on entirely too many conversations since I've been back. It's just too easy, and hard to block out. I miss just hearing the flow of Spanish, being able to understand it if I wanted to, but also just being able to let him be noise in the background. People say such stupid stuff sometimes. I don't want to hear it all.

I've also eaten too much food. The amount of food I had yesterday would be equal to maybe 1 1/2 or 2 days worth of food in Spain. No wonder I don't feel so hot right now.

So long story short, being home is.....okay. I'm not thrilled to be back in the states. It's been amazing being able to see friends and family again, and yea, the food has been delicious. But I actually miss paella and patatas bravas and jamón ibérico. I miss the slow pace of life, all the old crumbly buildings jam packed next to each other, and all the little Spanish abuelos blocking my way as I try to run to catch the bus. I miss Spain. But America and I will get to know each other better, and I know I'll feel more at home again. It will just take some time.


  1. Spain misses you too :) Glad you got home safe and sound! I hope the re-entry period goes by smoothly. Keep in touch!

    1. Thank you! I never thought I would miss Algeciras, but I have to say...I kind of do. It's just a totally different lifestyle. Hope you and Xabi are keeping out of the heat okay!

  2. I notice myself saying things like "wear" for "carry." Like, wearing a purse. Or being unable to think how to say "tiene razón," and so I say "he has reason"!

  3. I think most people who have returned from a trip abroad can relate to your feelings! I felt the same way after living in Costa Rica. It was such a complete shock to be back in the U.S. where everything is so much bigger.

    In case you're interested, feel free to check out my magazine called Native Foreigner ( It's specifically for returning travelers such as yourself who are going through reverse culture shock. You may find some helpful info on the site. And, you're always welcome to share your own story!

    Best of luck with the transition. And, now you can indulge in some squeaky cheese curds! Go Packers :)

    Lindsay Hartfiel

    1. I agree, most people who have returned from a trip abroad experienced culture shock. My bother just come back home from vacation abroad and he told me about the big difference of the life style here and abroad.