My apologies for being absent for so long. As the end of my Spain trip neared closer, I spent less and less time posting and writing up my adventures and more and more just out exploring and soaking up as much as I could. While I don’t regret it one bit, it did lead to a bit of a lackluster blogging period. But not to worry – I did manage to do trip write-ups for a great deal of my travels and I will be converting those into posts whenever homework and school activities let up long enough to give me the chance (if that time ever comes).
I come to you today to talk about the first international event I attended, and to fill you in a bit on my transition back into life in the U.S. Upon arriving home, I didn’t experience any of the “reverse culture shock” I was warned about while I was abroad. I was back with my family, which was very familiar, and I was working two jobs, so I was keeping pretty busy and also living in a very different situation than when I’d been at school.
The weirdness came when school started up in the fall. I had been so excited to get back to my friends and to life at OU, but for the first week or so, things just felt… odd. Everything that I’d been so excited about was feeling a little bit overwhelming, and I was distinctly aware that I’d been off for four months, traveling and living my dream but not focusing too hard on the future or possible careers. Meanwhile, everyone I’d left behind was working full steam ahead toward their goals, and I suddenly felt very behind.
What helped a lot, it turns out, was a simple coffee date with two of the girls I’d studied abroad with. Many of my friends I made in Spain were from all over the United States, but a handful went to OU, and thus are still accessible to me now. After school one day near the end of the first week, we grabbed coffee and caught up – we talked about our summers and lamented the lack of café con leche in the states and reminisced about Alcalá. We talked about how transitioning back into life at school had felt a little bit strange and was a little bit more difficult than we’d anticipated. Speaking to other people in the exact same situation was a breath of fresh air for me. It helped me put all of the puzzle pieces together – my whole week had felt a little off, but until I’d talked to my study abroad friends, I hadn’t realized that this was due in large part to the reverse culture shock that was finally hitting me.
I had only anticipated struggling to adapt to life in Spain – I’d never expected to struggle to adapt to life in the U.S. again! But, as in all things, time, and good life chats with friends, worked wonders. I miss Alcalá a great deal, but it is wonderful to be home and reunited with friends and family!
It is also fun to swap stories of my travels with people, which is why the first international event I attended this year, the Global Engagement Middle Eastern-themed talk at Second Wind, was such a great one. It was an informal gathering of around 15 people sitting, sipping coffee and snacking on doughnuts, and sharing stories of time spent traveling and studying in the Middle East.
If you are a loyal follower of this blog (if anyone is!) you will know that I went to Morocco for a weekend while I was in Spain. This amount of travel paled in comparison to the journeys of others at the event, but it was nice to be able to share my perspective and relate to what they were saying. I love discussing different cultures and different experiences, and this event brought me right back to my time abroad. It was fascinating to hear from students who had been to countries I had not, and to compare Morocco stories with others who had been. I got to see the world through many different eyes, and it was such a treat!
I will always be on board with any event at which I get to share and hear travel stories, and this one was no exception. I look forward to a Spain-themed event in the future where I can share more in-depth knowledge with people who might want to travel there!