After being abroad for two years, a lot of people would think that MAYBE it’s time to go home and get back into “real life”. It’s true that after two years working as an English and Culture Assistant through the Spanish government, the novelty of the idea has worn off. I didn’t enjoy the position as much as I did in the beginning. Working 12 hours a week as an assistant may be the perfect way to live for some, but after graduating from college with a four year degree, I’m looking for more.
Spain has become a part of me! I think, however, I’ve outgrown this “English teacher/assistant” stage in my life. What was the next step? Well, since I didn’t have a visa for the upcoming year and no position in Spain, I headed home! The idea of heading home was a really difficult decision for me. I missed all of my family friends and my life back at home. I still didn’t want to give up the Spanish lifestyle and my new lifestyle in Spain. Since being back and adjusting to my old lifestyle, I’ve been feeling lots of weird emotions! Here’s what travellers don’t tell you about coming home:
We Cannot Simply Go Back To “Normal Life”
I’ve been home for about 2.5 weeks and everyday I struggle with some sort of reverse culture shock. It’s either reverse culture shock or a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach. I’ve been tackling the adjustment of moving back into my parents’ home after living on my own for two years. I am struggling to adapt to my family’s schedule. I am working through the “normal” meal schedules, “normal” meal portions and “normal” prices for a beer. If you ask me, $6 for a beer is a bit expensive! And as much as I love my car, I’m definitely struggling with the fact that I have to drive everywhere. Come on, Uncle Sam, why does everything need to be so far away from everything else?!
The hardest part, has been interacting with my family. The first week I was home, I constantly felt annoyed with everyone and everything. I felt like I wasn’t happy and wasn’t satisfied. I went from exploring new parts of Spain every weekend and living on my own, to running errands for everyone else and constantly waiting for my sisters to make plans. I was moving slower and had to start doing the “normal” American things. My family took notice and told me that I always seemed annoyed or burdened whenever I was asked to do something! I didn’t notice it, but my attitude was not too friendly.
I definitely didn’t know what the transition would be like after being abroad for an extended period of time. I’m sure my family also thought that when I returned, everything would pick up like normal. Totally wrong. If you’ve got someone in your family who is returning home after being abroad for an extended period of time, be patient with them. Although things will most likely “pick up” where they were before, it won’t be the same. I’m starting to adjust a lot better now, but I still have those days where my family and friends expect me to be the same person. And I thought I’d be the same person as well, but I’ve learned that I’m not. It will take me some time until I feel like the United States is my “home” again.
Questions About My Personal Life, Although Considerate, are Totally Not Welcome
Whoa, whoa, whoa. I don’t know when people started getting so curious about my professional and personal life, but it’s freaking me out! There were friends in Spain that asked, but the pressure never felt the same than at home! Apparently the hot topic these days is if I’m getting married anytime soon. I receive a lot of questions along the lines of: if I’ve talked about marriage, if my boyfriend is the “one” or when we plan on getting married. Y’all, I’m 24 years old. At this point in my life, I do not plan on getting married anytime soon! My eggs don’t expire until I’m 45 (or that’s what I’ve been taught about the “birds & the bees”). So, no rush to get married and no rush for children. And if you ever meet the boyfriend, he will tell you the same!
Besides marriage, the almighty question has been “Now what?” And my dear family and friends, that is a hell of a great question! I thought after two years living in Spain and having time to think and figure things out, I’d know the answer. But, I still don’t. So, every time I’m asked this question, I feel this immense amount of pressure to know. I’m going to be honest with y’all: I have no idea what’s next. I’m taking things one day at a time, I’m working on a lot of different projects and I’m trying to gain professional experience and open doors to opportunities. I’m working hard and that’s what I’m focusing on now!
Since coming back, I’ve also received a lot of questions about if I miss Spain. I love home and I love being close to my family, friends, and my sisters. I also love having the opportunity to advance in the United States and learn more about MY home country. But, I still miss Spain. I miss Spain every day. I miss having toast with olive oil and tomatoes for breakfast. I miss drinking coffee for 2€, I miss the feeling of living in a foreign country and speaking Spanish every day. Home is where I need to be now, but who’s to say that I’ll be staying here forever!
Reverse Culture Shock & Adjustment Time
I’ve read a lot of different travel blogs that talk about reverse culture shock and how surprising it is. Since being home, I think the reverse culture shock is taking a bit longer to hit. I like to think that I’m adjusting well back into the “American Lifestyle” and other days I’m thinking to myself, what am I doing and why is everything so expensive?!
If you’ve got a friend or family member that’s returning back home, give them adequate adjustment time to transition to life back in the United States. And if you’re the traveler, try to give yourself adequate time to adjust and transition back to home life. Before moving back, I was so excited to be back home. I was excited to have my own car, be surrounded by English and start buckling down on my blog/vlogs, that I forgot about the reverse culture shock. I came back, spent the first few days cleaning my entire room that turned into a storage room for the past two years (thanks Mom and Dad). Afterwards I jumped into babysitting my cousins and after my first week, I started a full-time internship in Corporate America!
It’s all been going so fast and I feel like I barely had time to relax since coming home. I guess the good thing is that I’m trucking through it, but I may have bit off a bit more than I could chew. So fellow travellers who are returning home, give yourself some time to adjust, get situated and enjoy your off time before jumping into anything crazy! I wish I had an extra week to hang out, be a bum and not worry about waking up at 6am every morning *insert agonized face emoji here*.
Realizing That My Friends Have Moved On
Life always goes on, whether you’re there or not. This sentiment couldn’t be more true! I knew that all of my friends had their own lives, made new friends, created new memories and so forth, but darn does it suck realising that you’re not part of the memories or the inside jokes anymore. I’ve kept in touch with a handful of my friends from home while being abroad. It was harder than I expected. My first year, I tried to set up weekly Skype calls with friends, messaging them and tried to be in two places at once. My second year, I didn’t keep up with that many people and I realized that life moves on and people do, too.
This has been a hard fact to grasp, especially now when I’ve returned! We’ve all moved on from certain things, made new friends, made new memories, started dating new people and more. Playing catch up with all of the gossip I’ve missed is hard! I’ve yet to see a few of my friends and hang out with them, maybe once I’m not so busy and actually get paid! One thing I’ve learned from living abroad is that there are friends for parts of your life and there are friends that will always be there to support you and help you no matter what.
Any other travellers who are returning home experiencing something similar? Is there another emotion that I forgot to mention? Leave it in the comments below! I’d like to give a huge shoutout to my family and friends who are always supporting me, even though the first week I was home, I ended up being a cranky and jet-lagged lady. Thanks for letting me complain to you about the United States, the expensiveness of everything, driving around all the time and ultimately just helping me get set my life back up at home.