Saying goodbye to my host advisors Marta, Arna, Samuel and Irena was bittersweet. I remember first meeting them and how they were so excited for us to embrace ourselves in the Catalan culture, travel Europe and really enjoy Spain. At first I did not understand what all the hype was over, but this is what they called home and they were excited to welcome us to their home. Four months later the day before my departure, i realized that this was my home and now it is time for me to leave. I was sad to be leaving an amazing city that I once knew nothing about except for their famous tapa, patatas bravas, but now could not feel more like home. It felt like we all have become familiar with our daily routines, tasks and surroundings and now we are being taken back to the liminal phase, but this time we have to re adjust.
These past four months felt so unreal, I traveled to 10 countries and 17 cities while still getting the most out of Barcelona. Coming back to the United States was a big shock for me. My last night there my friend group and I decided to go out to one of our favorite clubs for our last “#wild” Wednesday, I basically went from the club to the airport, but I must say I enjoyed my night. It did not hit me that I was back in New York until I woke up the next day at 5 a.m. due to jet lag and looked out of my window and realized I did not have my roommate Dillon passed out across the room or for the fact I was unable to walk to my placa and get food.
Slimbach’s last chapter, “I Didn’t Expect That,” really depicts how I felt as i came back to America. He said to not make a hectic schedule and recognize the importance for time alone and reflect (p. 212). I took Slimbach’s advise to heart after I came back from QU’s May Weekend. I was not ready to talk about my experiences yet, because I was honestly too sad to answer the questions, “How was Spain? How was Barcelona? Did you love it? What was your favorite part?” I like that Slimbach makes a point of personal reflection during this time, because as humans we cannot just push off our feelings especially from a great experience such as this. After we take our time to reflect and properly other our thoughts we can start reincorporating ourselves into society and share our experiences with our community . Another thing that has been difficult is trying to find the balance between the bitter and the sweet. Part of me is overjoyed to be back here with family and friends especially , but the other part would hop on a plane back to Barcelona tomorrow and not look back.
Sharing my reincorporation letter with my family a week later they could tell how much I have grown within the last four months. The quote I chose to share with them was “To be loyal to myself is to allow myself to grow and change, and challenge who I am and what i think. The only thing I am for sure is unsure and this means I’m growing and not stagnant or shrinking (Jarod Kintz)“ I shared this with them to let them know that coming back to America will be a big culture shock for me although I have lived her for the past 20 years of my life. I explained to them that it would be a reverse culture shock, but not to worry once I am done experiencing this I will be even better than before. My mom was so supportive of my experience and my pre-departure letter and even more supportive of my re incorporation letter. She was excited to sit with me and look at all my videos and pictures and hear about both my good and bad times abroad.
I did experience a few culture shocks when i first came back. My main one was when I was going to a gas station and wanted to buy two sodas and they had a special for $3. I thought to myself oh not bad, I went to the register and the cashier said, “This will be $3.67” and I was so confused and told him it should be $3, but he told me there was tax and a bottle deposit. In Spain there is no tax, everything is automatically included in the price that you see. I couldn’t help but laugh at this experience, but then miss the cheap aspect of Spain at the same time.
This picture of Mr. Krabs accurately represents how I feel being back in America trying to reflect while still trying to reincorporate myself into society.