I’m home. It’s crazy how easily I get used to locations now. After arriving home in the US, I moved out of my parent’s house and into a new apartment. It has only been a week here and I already feel so relaxed and at home. After a month abroad, moving from place to place quickly, the knowledge that I can stay put somewhere for a while is so comforting.
I’ve definitely identified with some of the stages of reverse culture shock while being back. I was so eager to come home, as I had gotten quite homesick while abroad. It can be frustrating and annoying talking to my family and friends. Everyone has the same questions about my program and it’s like I’m a record on repeat, and even when I excitedly ramble on about my adventures it can be frustrating that they either don’t understand or aren’t as excited about my experience as I am. I still have not finished going through all of my photos from the program, it almost feels as if once I finally do, I have to accept that the program is over.
There were aspects of my study abroad that were difficult for me, but it was one of the most amazing experiences in my life so far. Going to a country where you don’t speak the language is challenging, but I’m proud of myself for how I was able to adapt and appreciate the Spanish language and culture. Staying in a Spanish family’s home during my home-stay definitely helped with this. One funny thing that I noticed my first week back was the small habits I had picked up. Toilets are different in Spain, most of the buttons are on the top, rather than the side of the toilets and I found myself instinctively tapping the tops of toilets once I got home if I did not pay extra care to look for the flusher.
I really loved my time abroad. Soon, I’ll go through and look through my photos and I’m hoping to put together a short video with all of the footage I shot. I think this program helped teach me to be adaptable. There were a lot of situations in class and out of class that required an openness to change, something I haven’t generally been good about. But having it be required of the situation helped to push me out of my comfort zone. I also think I have grown so much as a photographer; my teacher was truly an amazing teacher and I learned so many concepts that I had never even considered. Being in a country as beautiful and diverse as Spain also helped me to push myself with subject matter and photography techniques.
If you’re considering studying abroad, I would 100% encourage you to go for it. This program has been one of the most exciting months of my life, and if you have the opportunity to experience something similar you should absolutely go for it. You only have one life, and it doesn’t make sense to pass up amazing opportunities like this. If this is something you want to do, you can find a way. There are scholarships like this one, you can make a financial savings plan, ask family for help, pick up a second job. There was a saying that I heard from someone in Spain, “Americans live to work but in Spain, we work to live.” So work to live- I plan to.