Adjusting to America

Abigail Summerville
December 27, 2017

During the weeks leading up to my arrival home to Washington, D.C. from Barcelona, I had been planning out what I wanted my first meal to be. I would arrive at Dulles airport around 7 pm, my family would be waiting there to pick me up and we’d go to my favorite Thai restaurant. However, after I reunited with my family at baggage claim, the 13 hours of travel and the 6-hour time difference started to hit me, and I told my family I just wanted to go home and go to sleep. I was snoring by 9 pm.

Besides adjusting to the time difference, I had to adjust to English, driving and remembering the names of old friends and relatives at holiday parties. I was bombarded with questions about my time abroad, the coolest place I visited and if the separatist movement in Barcelona was dangerous. It was hard to convey four months worth of experiences into a two sentence long response. But I did feel a sense of fulfillment sharing all my knowledge with friends and family about Barcelona history, politics, architecture and traditions. And especially making them understand the details and the misconceptions about the Catalan independence movement. However, I’m worried that when the questions start to die off, the knowledge I gained will die off with them. What do I do with all the information I know about Modernisme and the Catalan Parliament? I’m still realizing the answers to that question.

Now, after over a week of being back in the U.S., I’m starting to fall back into the familiar rhythm of being home. My sleep schedule is back to normal, I’m working out every day to get back into shape for my upcoming lacrosse season, I’m emailing professors about the new classes I’ll be taking and I’m catching up with my friends. I’m looking into the future, preparing and planning. It’s much different from the in the moment, Mediterranean lifestyle I led in Spain. Sometimes I miss the laidback strolls under the Arc de Triumph or my aimless walks through the windy gothic quarter. But a part of me was ready to get back to the familiar fast-paced American lifestyle. Although, I’m sure a few weeks into school after reuniting with old friends wears off and the work piles on, I’ll be reminiscing about all the free time I had in Barcelona and I’ll be sad knowing I have no more weekend trips to other countries to look forward to.

I think these conflicting feelings of being sad to leave my abroad bubble and happy to be home will last for a while longer, until I keep putting my abroad experience on the backburner so I can focus on more immediate things such as lacrosse practices, an econmoics exam or a sorority event. I worry that if it stays on the backburner too long, it'll end up in the deep depths of my longterm memory banks, harder to retrieve and remember. But I'm comforted by the fact that I have pictures, videos and blog posts about my experiences. And I'm especially comforted by the fact that my WhatsApp chat with my closest friends I made abroad is still blowing up my phone with notifictions every day. Now I know that it's ok to feel happy to be back, I don't have to feel guilty towards Barcelona as if I'm abandoning the city or cheating on it with D.C. I can have multiple homes across the world, and that means I know I'll return to my home in Barcelona one day. 

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Abigail Summerville

<p>I'm excited to meet local people who have lived in Barcelona their whole lives who can tell me all about it- the history, culture, food, architecture, and the best places to visit. I'm also excited to meet the other students in the program and make lasting friendships. And I LOVE adventures, and can't wait to travel around Spain and to other countries as well.</p>

2017 Fall
Home University:
Washington and Lee University
Arlington, VA
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