“Reverse Culture Shock”

I was told that when I returned to the United States that I would experience “Reverse Culture Shock.” I was even sent a list of things to do to help this so-called shock.

Luckily for me, I flew into Miami from Madrid for 24 hours to visit my sister. It was a nice buffer because Miami feels like its own Hispanic country, not like a state in the US.

Also, it’s been crazy busy for me since I stepped off the plane so I didn’t have time to fight jet lag, stuff my face with all of the food I have missed, or enjoy the incredible humidity I forgot about.

The only culture shock I experienced was when I was on the plane from Miami to St. Louis. I was sitting in my seat in a row of 3 and I was waiting for the other two to sit down. A young man was walking down the aisle and he was looking at me and smiling. I assumed one of the seats next to me was his, so I questioningly pointed to the seat next to me and he laughed. He said, “No, that’s not mine.”

It took me a second to realize that he was just being nice and/or flirting. I have been living in a culture that no one looked at each other while walking. It took me a couple of days to look at people and smile. I wonder how b*#?+y I looked walking around Menards just looking at people he not smiling. I would like to apologize to all of the people not reading this post for not smiling back.

My bad.

To be honest I didn’t experience a culture shock when I was back in the US. The only thing that felt different was seeing my family. I missed them so much and it didn’t seem real sitting with my sister and brother in law in Miami or playing with my nephew back home.

It’s also nice having a home with air conditioning, eating home grown peaches, eating homemade deer sticks, playing with my puppy dogs, seeing my friends and loved ones face to face rather than on FaceTime…the list goes on and on.

I wish I could say I came home to a peaceful place, I slept for days, and slowly got back to normal. In reality, the second I walked off the plane I had things to do and I still have a major to do list two weeks after.

Unfortunately, the GRE won’t take itself, my job won’t do itself, my room won’t clean itself, my books won’t buy themselves, my house won’t remodel itself…and the list goes on and on.

It feels great to be back! I can’t deny that. But it should be proof enough that I’ve been busy since it has taken me 2 weeks to write a small, boring post about the mythical “Reverse Culture Shock.”

I will leave you with this though:
Jet lag is a very, very real thing.

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Even the Strong will Fall

If you know me personally you will know that I don’t cry often. And by that I mean ever.

Now that my blog has been put up on the school website and in our local paper the stress of writing is growing. My mom has also been reminding me that I need fresh material for my new readers.

That’s fine and dandy but a writer can’t just write. If Jane Austen just wrote to write then we would probably have been reading about the romantic way that wax falls from a candle stick. We wouldn’t have been transported to the English country side where we all (yes, ALL) fell in love with Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. If Shakespeare wrote to just write we might have been reading about the smelly, dirty streets and crazy happenings of old English streets. We wouldn’t have been immersed in beautiful writing that taught us about love and horrible, tragic destinies.

If I wrote to write you would be reading about how I’m sweating like a pig in my room trying to do homework or purely survive without dehydrating. Or maybe how many things I’ve been pinning on Pinterest in my free time because if I move a muscle I will instantly fall into a heat stroke.

Today, I received an email saying that there was a letter waiting for me in the program’s office. A letter? For muah? Who could it be from?

I tried to wait and go before my night class but I’m terrible at waiting. Hence why my mother still hides Christmas presents or numbers them even after my 21 years of age.

I practically ran to the office (which resulted in a full body sweat/detox) and found the letter. It was from my second home, aka work. I couldn’t believe it!

I opened it up instantly and walked down the streets back home with a huge smile on my face. The notes from my friends/family made my day/week/month. It’s ironic too because I have another postcard to send to work ready to be mailed!

I haven’t received much in the mail because a) it’s expensive b) hello 21st century, we have technology and c) it takes forever if it even makes it.

I didn’t think traveling for this long would bother me and it really hasn’t. I went on my first trip alone when I was 15 for two weeks and didn’t look back.

It all started to hit me when I facetimed with my nephew and he said “Hi, Aunt Ca-Ca!” Before I left he couldn’t even say ca-ca. Holy moly. How was I going to live without seeing him for 2 months?

Then I was trying to find an outfit for him and realized I don’t know how big he is! I haven’t held him in 1.5 months! I shrugged it off. He can’t be getting that big. I’m overreacting.

THEN my sister Jess went home from Miami to go to a John Mayer concert with my other sister. Cool! Of course I wanted to go but I’m in Spain!

Jess asked to FaceTime me with the whole family only to find out that SHE’S ENGAGED! I was so excited. But then it hit me that I’m not there to hug her or Paolo! I cried. I cried like a baby. I was the only one that cried out of the entire family, which is the most unusual thing.

Then I receive this letter from work and it only makes you realize how much family and friends mean to you. I have missed out on 3 of my best friends’ 21st birthdays, I will be missing another birthday, an engagement, celebrations for passing major exams, new houses, etc. Not to mention all of the fun I have every time I’m at work.

I’m not exactly home sick but I only wish that I could experience these things with the people closest to me. Maybe everyone should go away for a while to realize how many people they truly love. What’s the saying, “distance only makes the heart grow fonder?” Well I’m figuring that out the hard way!

The FaceTime moments with family and friends, the card from work, and comments on my blog make me feel so lucky. I’m grateful to know that I have great family and friends waiting for me to come home (possibly because they know I’ll come bearing gifts…) and that I have people sharing my adventures with me.

My sappy post is over and I hope to have an exciting post coming soon. Tonight Cassi and I will be going to a friend’s apartment (my friend Amber from Texas who I met in Rome…I’ll let that soak in). We are going to have homemade fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, Colombian cuisine for her roommate’s birthday, mojitos made by one of the roommate’s German girlfriend, and a tequila concoction made by the Americans. If we survive that we will be heading over to a flamenco show.

Let. The. Games. Begin.

Shock and Awe

When I was younger, I would write. I would make absolutely no sense but it was fun to do. As I grew older I wrote things but never finished them. When I was in college I would write (papers for school, a small unsuccessful eating blog, newspaper, etc) but I went pretty unnoticed.

When McKendree asked me to write a blog I was thrilled. They asked me a year in advance since I knew my plans years ahead, and that whole year I was thinking of all the possibilities of writing a blog. It was the best way for my family to check on me and see how everything is going. The one thing I did not expect: other people reading my blog! I did not expect to receive “requests” to hurry up on writing another post, the feedback people leave me on the blog or Facebook, and I definitely did not expect one of the nicest emails from a McKendree graduate.

My sister Jessica is the writer. She always has been. Reading her stories made you escape into her world and forget everything around you. How could I ever compare? To know that people are enjoying what I write (either laughing with me or at me) is the best experience of this whole trip. I can’t tell all of you what it means that you’re reading this and sharing this dream trip with me.

In a way I would like to make my I-would-like-to-thank-the-academy speech now. In reality without my parents and sisters I would not be here. My sister Stephanie went to Germany in college and my sister Jessica went to Italy. They paved the way for me to make it to Spain. Without my parents I would be at home at this time…well I would be sleeping due to the time difference…having another summer in Trenton. My friends and family, thank you for never questioning me and just patting me on the head saying, “whatever makes you happy.” I would also like to thank my professor Dr. Capron and my high school teacher Mrs. Crow for keeping this dream alive and teaching me any of the Spanish that I claim to know. Last but not least, I would like to give thanks to my McKendree team! Without you guys I may have been here but not for academics! I want to thank Dr. Dennis and Dr. Bahr for letting me barge into their offices explaining that I want to go to Spain and someone would have to let me do it! (Don’t worry…I asked in a very nice…obviously persuasive way) 😉 Lastly, to Sarah Klucker and Michael Embrich: I definitely would not be here without Sarah because she held my hand the whole way through. She also is responsible for partnering with ISA to give other students my opportunity around the world. Michael is responsible for setting this blog up, allowing me to share it with you!

With every speech, someone misses someone. If you’re reading this, then I thank you. In some small or very large way, you have helped me get here. I will be forever grateful.

Grab your Kleenex please and wipe up those tears that I made you cry with the most touching speech you will ever read…time for my true post about Spain!

I don’t have much to say right now because I haven’t done much this week. I’ve experienced the post office, but that will be for a whole other blog. I have to return today…dun dun dunnnnnn.

I would like to talk a bit about the mental battle that is occurring in my head. I find it truly fascinating because it was pretty unexpected. When I arrived to Spain I lost my luggage so I was instantly thrown in the ring of speaking Spanish (which by the way, Sarah, I found my luggage!) I’m not sure why I thought it would be easy, I could speak in the classroom, why not here? The first couple of days in Valencia were pretty mentally draining. I walked away from about 4 days in a row with a headache from focusing so hard on every word.

My brain started to fight Spanish. I felt myself getting lazy and not wanting to translate and to just want to speak English. At this point, the devil and angel popped up onto my shoulder. The devil would say, Screw Spanish, go for English! Then the angel would politely tap me onto the shoulder and say, ARE YOU CRAZY? You’re in Spain. Speak Spanish!

After days of living with these guys on my shoulders I finally just gave up. I ran to the beach and jumped into a volleyball game with 5 Spanish guys. (Who did not play well…) Only one of them spoke English and he had to really fight for his words. I explained to them that I didn’t like speaking Spanish because I felt like a caveman. They helped me understand that I was doing well and they felt weird trying to speak English. It clicked!

My mental battle was over. I was so used to being good at everything, or at least trying to. When talking made me vulnerable I didn’t want to do it anymore because I felt so stupid. Now I realize that the only way to do it is by making all of the mistakes in the world. I have to talk to anyone and everyone and I have to listen. The point of me coming to Spain was to improve and learn Spanish. Why did I think that when I stepped off the plane I would magically be 200% fluent?