Before going abroad I was always told that the most difficult transition is not when you get to your host country but rather when you return home to America. This was very hard for me to believe at first, but now that I have experienced both going abroad and returning home, I am able to see how accurate their words were. When arriving in Sevilla, I was extremely homesick for the first two weeks and I did not think I would ever experience anything like that feeling again. However, being back in America, I am having the same feelings. I am homesick from Spain, the friends I made, and the culture that I became a part of. Due to this state of being, I would consider myself a liminal again. Although America has been my home for the first twenty years of my life, being back in the states I feel like I am no longer in my “safe place.”
Two weeks before leaving America, I shared my separation letter with my parents and explained to them what a healthy separation would be while I was abroad. They were very understanding and very helpful in making my separation with them an easy transition. Now, that I have returned home from Europe, I will share with them my reincorporation letter. The first thing I explained to them was the importance of reincorporation and that the individual is being “newly born” and they are returning to the community with a ‘new status.’ In class we learned that when you go through the first phase, separation, you are “dieing” to yourself and when you go through the third and final stage, reincorporation, you are being “born.” I chose a quote by James Baldwin to share with my parents, “I met a lot of people in Europe. I even encountered myself.” I felt that when returning home from abroad I encountered a new part of myself that I never knew. In order for my parents to understand this process and the experiences that contributed to making me a new person, they needed to ask questions and take the time to listen to me even if they did not completely understand.
Studying abroad enhanced my love for traveling a million times. Every weekend I was traveling to different countries or different cities within Spain. I have never been a fan of planes but due to my constant traveling, I have learned to travel like a pro (or what I think is like a pro). Being home, I plan on traveling a lot more than I did before leaving America. I am interested in getting involved in a service trip to the Dominican Republic and traveling to different states to see the friends I met while being in Spain. Another way I plan on carrying out my study abroad experience is by getting involved with the program Teach for America. This program that allows individuals to travel to different countries and teach English to under privileged students. I hope to one-day travel back to a Spanish speaking country and learn more Spanish as well as teach English. Spain was able to give me one of the most amazing experiences in my life and I want to be able to give back to even more to the community.
Being a psychology major I have learned a lot about habits and what can be done in order to break a bad habit. I can admit that before going abroad I did not try new foods. I had a habit of eating the same foods and not exploring different options. My daily meals mostly consisted of the same options and I rarely stepped out of my comfort zone to eat new foods. I made it one of my goals to try unusual and exotic foods while traveling abroad and expand my horizons. To my surprise, this was a huge success and I tried foods that I would have never imagined that I would enjoy. Returning back to America I have found that I have broke my old habit of eating the same foods regularly. With only being home a week, I have already had my parents make different Spanish food dishes and I have strayed away from the unhealthy foods I always used to eat.
Reading Richard Slimbachs last chapter about reincorporation in Becoming World Wise, made me very emotional. Everything that I read was unfortunately 100% accurate and it was hard for me to fully grasp reality. I did not believe that home would feel like a foreign place to me, but it did. I didn’t expect myself to be so emotional and exhausted, but I did. I didn’t think I would have a difficult time explaining all my amazing experiences to my friends and family, but I did. I didn’t expect to feel depressed about being away from the people I met and the places I traveled to, but I did. I especially did not expect the reincorporation phase to be as difficult as I was told it was going to be. “Having made a deep emotional investment in another culture, we cant be expected to simply “blend” back home” (Slimbach 217). Reading this quote helped me gather all my emotions and thoughts together because I realized that I needed to take a step back and understand that everything was not going to just fall back in place like I had expected it to.