My summer is more or less over. I’ve met some amazing people and I’ve eaten some great food. Nothing more could have made this summer more wonderful. It’s been quite the journey, but this is my final post. I’ll reflect on my time abroad how I’m adjusting to life back in the States.
The best part about traveling abroad is that even when you have a bad experience, you still get to learn from it. I can think of some things that didn’t go quite as planned, but without those moments my experience would be incomplete. I had a wonderful program, and I’d participate again in a heartbeat. As I’ve stated before, I’m already planning on going back to study there again. I just can’t stay away from Spain.
Looking back, I wish I would have thought and focused more on the workplace culture. I really didn’t bond with my coworkers that much. We never went out for lunch or spent much time together. I really wish we would have. It was extremely difficult to not fully speak the language, and I don’t think that I realized how difficult it would be to get to know them. I feel as though it also depends on what your office is like (just like in the States). I’ve been fortunate enough to work in offices that were very open and all of my past coworkers were very eager to get to know me. In Spain, the environment was different and I don’t think they really had the time since they were a startup. Overall, it would have been a really nice experience to have, but all-in-all it’s not a huge deal.
What I really loved and enjoyed were the few really good friends that I made this summer, although it was much harder to make friends in Madrid than I would have previously thought. I found a surprising number of Spaniards that didn’t have many friends in the city, for one reason or another, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to get to know them better. It never ceases to amaze me that although our cultures are different and that we may have different ways of expressing ourselves, most of the people I meet are very similar to me. This bit of wisdom has been a huge gift, and I’m extremely thankful for this summer.
Another great thing about my time abroad was getting to experience a whole new food pallet. I rarely ate out. Cooking at home inspired me to look up recipes, and more importantly to ask my friends and their families for recipes. I think this led to a more complete cultural experience. I really hadn’t lived on my own before this, so going abroad and living in an apartment was an experience in itself.
As for life back home, I haven’t found it difficult to adjust. I’ve already been abroad a few times, so I was ready for the time change. It’s worked out perfectly since I’ve always wanted to wake up earlier. I feel like I am probably the exception because when I did leave Spain, I was ready to leave. As much as I loved my time in Madrid, after being there for almost three months, I was ready to take a break from Spain and come back to a country where I was familiar with the customs and where I could speak the language fluently. At the same time, although I am happy to be back I’m a little bored because the US just isn’t Spain!