It’s been three weeks. SAY WHAT? Next Sunday it will have been a month. NAHHHH WAY. Ok, ok, to say I am baffled would be an understatement obviously. Spain has been nothing less than what I wanted this year abroad and I truly feel a strong affection to the beautiful mountains I see every morning on my way to school…it’s slowly becoming my home!
With all my praise and newfound La Rioja pride, it actually hasn’t been quite that smooth. I remember during Madrid orientation, a mentor telling us that this experience is not exponential. There are times where everything will be looking up, your Spanish is improving, you reach your students, etc., but then, there will another day that you’ll mess up. You’ll miss home. And yes, you’ll probably want to cry. Coming from someone who studied abroad for a semester, I could not agree more. Unfortunately, as I was sitting there listening to the advice three weeks ago, I didn’t think my “dip” so to speak was going to be as early as it came. My third week has been that “dip.”
To start off the week, I was exhausted. The festivities of San Mateo really took it out of me and starting school/getting back into a routine was hard. On top of that, after trying to be productive and go for a run, I ended up twisting my ankle and scraping my knee. Hence, the rest of my week I was laid up in bed, after teaching all day, with frozen peas on my ankle. I don’t even have Wifi in my piso to marathon Netflix to pass the time either. Truly the worst situation #firstworldproblems
Anyway, during this week, through those minor bumps and being holed up in my piso all evening, I had an overwhelming sense of homesickness. I felt discouraged in my Spanish abilities because I wasn’t speaking it as frequently as I wanted, I was stuck in my place with frozen peas, and even with the little contact I had back home, I felt, more than anything, I needed to be home. It was hard and I wasn’t expecting it to hit so soon after my big move! And lets be honest, I really needed some cottage cheese to make everything better (my family/friends will understand my struggle and you’re wrong if you don’t like it).
But I promise I am not here to talk about how sad or depressed I am that my strange curdled cheese addiction is not being met. No, truthfully I hadn’t realized how therapeutic a caña (beer) and a good vent session was until I finally opened up to some fellow Fulbrighters. On top of opening up about the life that I left behind, my pathetic homesickness, and my real reasons for traveling abroad, it was an immense comfort to find out that I wasn’t alone. By the end of Thursday night, I was back to my positive self, te prometo (I promise you).
However, I couldn’t have a life post without some lesson or take away? What kind of educator would I be?!
What I’ve realized from the people I’ve talked to and reflecting on my own feelings about moving abroad, is that we all wanted to move for different reasons. But however drastically different those reasons, there are still some aspects that we miss at home and along with that there is a balancing act of how to manage it all. Makes sense right? It took me three weeks, but what I’ve realized is that I need to stop living a life 3,000 miles away and live my life in Logroño, Spain. The one that I actively sought out and applied for!
This scared me. I didn’t want to give up what was back home. I loved my life back home and I wanted to keep it close to my heart…with Skype any relationships can last…it won’t be that bad. Wrong. The thing is it’s exhausting trying to live a life from a distance. Only the serious and most important ones can manage. So what does this mean? That I am stopping all communication back home? NO. Calm down, mom.
No, what I am saying is that I am consciously choosing to lessen the weight of the responsibility of my life back at home. I’m choosing to not have FOMO (fear of missing out) every time my friends post pictures at a football game, I am choosing to not let problems at home that I cannot control, control my emotions here, and I am choosing to keep updated with issues back home, but to be involved and aware of everything that is going on around me. Sounds like common sense. However, regardless of how common, it’s still difficult.
So I am settling in here. I am making friends, working, and living day-to-day in Spain. I promise you, there is enough to think or worry about with that alone! Where does that leave us? Well, here is my advice to any travelers who decide to stay for an extended time abroad: live in the moment (cliché alert), embrace the different culture that you are living in, and as much as possible, leave the life you had back at home. The one’s who matter will understand and the one’s who don’t understand, won’t matter. Your favorite foods will always be there when you get back…pre-packaged in a white container at Walmart.
I hope this suffices as an update of my life this week! I promise next week’s will be quite interesting…I had my phone stolen last night…I’ll have a lot to talk about.
Sending all my love,