I have been home for about a week now and things definitely feel different. I have deeply missed my days in Barcelona and the home I had there. I miss the city life and the constant access to public transportation. Coming back to my small town has been an adjustment. Although this transition into being back home has been a little difficult, I am happy that I am able to see my family and friends again.
In our workshop we discussed the process of reincorporation and how we enter our home community with a “new status.” Being back in this community I feel that I have experienced a sense of reverse culture shock. Through observation and conversations with my peers I feel that I am witnessing my community through a new lens, and I currently feel as if I am an outsider in my home country. Living in Barcelona for four months, I became accustomed to their culture and their way of life. I have gained more knowledge of our world and now view the American culture differently.
Upon my arrival home I chose to share my Reincorporation Letter with my family and friends. After my parents picked me up at JFK, I shared my thoughts and we discussed my experience on the car ride home. Slimbach mentioned that when returning to our home country, we are creating a new identity and a new home. “Just as we had to construct a home in our host culture, we must now learn to reconstruct a new home in our home culture” (208). With the experiences that we have each gained from studying abroad, we are no longer the same as when we departed from our home culture. My parents were very happy to hear of my experience and understanding of the foreign feeling I felt when stepping off of the plane.
A few days after returning home, I went to Quinnipiac to visit some of my closest friends. I told them of my time in Barcelona and expressed my enthusiastic views on life in Europe. I encouraged my friends to travel in life, for going to a foreign country will change the way that you think. I hope that with my arrival back home, I am able to make my friends see things from another perspective on the world that we live in.
Carrying forward the ‘gems’ I have gained on this experience is an important part of reincorporation. I will continue to carry forward my experience by keeping an open mind, listening to the thoughts of others, and sharing the knowledge that I have gained through studying in Spain. I have grown and matured so much over these past four months. In my first year of college, I remember not actually being too interested in studying in a foreign country. I decided to take the opportunity because of the experience of my older sister, and my growing interest in the Spanish culture. Before departing for Barcelona, I would have never thought that I would have such a strong passion for traveling. Now, I realize that there are so many other places I want to se, and other cultures that I want to learn about. I have even considered the idea of possibly living in Europe for a couple of years after graduation. I am very excited for the future and the opportunities to choose from.
Studying abroad is an experience of a lifetime, and as Oliver Wendell Holmes states, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” We have each grown significantly and have been exposed to a culture different than our own. This experience has changed me for the better and I will always carry the ‘gems’ that I have gained throughout life.