I’ve officially been back in the U.S. now for just over a month and have been back at school for two weeks. Before leaving Spain, I wasn’t really sure how readjustment would be once I returned, but overall, it’s been much easier than I had anticipated.
I will say that the biggest culture shock I first faced was when I first stepped back onto U.S. soil during my layover in JFK and heard everyone speaking American English. It was so strange! I guess I hadn’t realized before then that most of the English-speakers I interacted with, aside from the other Americans, either spoke British English or British English with a broken accent.
Another shock for me upon my return in the U.S. was the level of service, especially in restaurants. The lack of service was definitely something that I had noticed while in Spain, but I didn’t mind it. Coming back to the U.S., I hadn’t realized how much I had missed it. American restaurant waiters are incredible! Tip them well!!
And now I’m back at school. While things haven’t really gotten crazy yet, as I’m only two weeks in, I’m much more excited to be back than I thought I would be. I felt like a little kid on Christmas the day I moved back to Chapel Hill and was walking around campus with the biggest smile on my face, taking in the beautiful bell tower and the iconic Old Well. I even motivated myself to go on a run just to take in the beautiful campus that I hadn’t seen in four months.
As far as classes go, I’m actually very excited about them, even if they are 100 times harder than my Spanish classes! However, I am definitely missing the opportunity to practice my Spanish frequently, as I’m not even taking a Spanish course this semester.
The hardest part of the adjustment for me hasn’t even been because of studying abroad. The hardest part has been adjusting to a new year with new people and without old friends who graduated last year or transferred to other schools. However, while I miss them and the life that they brought to my life, I look forward to growing closer to friends that I already have and to spending more time with my new set of study abroad friends.
So overall, I feel that I’ve become completely readjusted in no time. It’s as if I’ve almost become too adjusted, too comfortable. You see, before I came home, I very much liked the idea of returning to Spain after graduation to live and teach there for a year. But now that I’m back (and have responsibilities again), it’s much harder for me to think of leaving the U.S. and living in Spain for a year. Granted, we’ll see. I think a part of me is just scared of the idea – scared of how I’ll live completely by myself in a foreign country, scared of how I’ll make friends abroad, and scared of what employers will think of my time abroad once I would return. But it’s because of this fear that I want to go. As someone who was always very shy and timid as I child, I like to face my fears so that I can learn from them and grow stronger.
Luckily, I have a year to think about this possibility of going back to Spain. So now, I hope to enjoy this semester and explore more of my home state!