I returned from my almost six months abroad in Seville, Spain about a week ago now and there is so much to unpack [mentally, of course]. I’m currently experiencing what we like to call “Reverse Culture Shock”. It’s what happens sometimes when we re-enter our home country after being away for a significant amount of time. If you’ve never seen the culture shock “W”, here it is.
What has been going through my mind over the past week? Keep reading, my friend.
For starters, WHY is is that American money is all the same size and color? How does this make it easier for those that are not familiar with the currency, let alone BLIND and literally have no way of telling the difference between bills?
WHY isn’t tax included on price tags as a national standard? For the places that do tax, shouldn’t we make it easier for the customer (whether it’s groceries, in retail, or at a restaurant)?
WHY DON’T we have locally owned fruit and veggie stores? I would much rather support a small business than some large corporation that doesn’t care about anything except making a profit.
WHY ARE WE NOT ON THE METRIC SYSTEM?! It’s much easier to understand than you realize, and the rest of the world is clearly ahead of us on this one. But the strangest part? Some things are in metric (like a 2L bottle of soda), but most things are not (like a 1 Gallon bottle of water). How does that even make sense? Consistency is KEY, people!
Although all of these things frustrate me because I now have something to compare them to, this does not mean that I hate The States. I don’t love the states but then again I don’t really love any place other than Seville, Spain. BUT, being back isn’t all that bad…there are some things that I’m excited about!
Firstly, I can finally use my debit card whenever I want! I have a debit card that DOES have foreign transaction fees (or FTF), so I only ever used it to take cash out of ATMs. I did, however, have a credit card with NO FTF, which was nice, but I ended up using cash most of the time anyway.
I am in the same time zone as most of my friends and family, so when my mom calls me after she gets off of work at 6PM, it’s no longer midnight my time–WooOooOoo! Also, Shoutout to my international friends that are 5-6 hours ahead of me!
I don’t have to plug my electronics into converters/adaptors anymore! This is pretty exciting for me because I didn’t really enjoy having to use adaptors/converters and I had a tendency to forget to bring one with me when I took my laptop out of the apartment–oops!
I can finally get skin care, hair care, groceries, and cleaning supplies ALL IN ONE PLACE! Some places are even open 24hr! Let me just say that this has been SUCH a relief. I understand why things are separated in Spain, but HOLY COW I am so glad to be able to make one stop and be done (Yes, I recognize that is the American in me that enjoys convenience over everything).
Being back in the states has taken some adjusting, but it gets easier every day. As time goes on I’m learning to accept that there are some things that I will never be able to change, no matter how big or small, because at the end of the day that is just what the American culture consists of.
I recognize that studying abroad, or traveling in general, is not accessible to everyone and I’m so incredibly thankful to have received scholarships and worked several jobs in order to pay for everything. I’m thankful to have seen just a smidgen of the world and to have learned just enough to see the world with a new focus.
Study Abroad was everything that I needed it to be. It was a second home. It was an escape. It was fun. I laughed most days. I cried others. I met lots of intelligent and creative people. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and managed to come out a little less afraid of the world because, let’s be honest, we’re not afraid of what we don’t know, we’re afraid of what we don’t understand.
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¡Hasta la próxima, Sevilla!