It's hard to believe that I've been gone almost half a year and nothing much has changed back home. I had been so worried about feeling disconnected coming back but the whole process has been much easier than expected, granted I did only come home to San Francisco and still have yet to return to Minnesota, which may be an entirely different experience.
When I came back last Friday it was really hard to believe I had been gone so long. As cliché as it sounds, it really did feel like I had just left. It just didn't feel real to think that when I left Buenos Aires 3 weeks ago I wouldn't be returning after my trips to Peru and El Salvador like I had when I went on all my other trips. My home was no longer in Argentina, rather in the United States.
I thought the first thing I would be obsessed with would be American (well San Franciscan) food when I got back, but surprisingly I haven't ate out often and haven't been completely "wow"-ed by anything I've eaten. The only thing I have noticed is my spice tolerance has gone way down since I tried a chimol with serrano peppers and nearly started crying; that would not have happened a few months ago.
The two hardest habits to break have been how I greet people and how I apologize for bumping into someone. I had been conditioned to say hello with the cheek kiss, which was fine when I came back to my dad's party which had mostly Salvadoran immigrants who also cheek kiss, but has been awkward otherwise. I also keep on bumping into people in the street and saying "perdón" rather than "sorry." I realize that people probably think I'm just rude or foreign.
I am pretty worried about returning to Minnesota; I have been here with family and friends but have already seen that I am a little more brash with strangers since I have somewhat forgotten how to be polite in English (i.e. yelling "hey" to get the attention of a delivery guy at the wrong house, and saying "hey" to a museum worker to get him to turn around to ask a question). Perhaps my suaveness will return to me soon, but I have a feeling that this brash nature won't mix well with the norm of "Minnesota nice" out in St. Peter.
I'm also afraid that I may feel rushed in school as the education system in Argentina is much more relaxed and exam-based. I'll have to get back into the swing of deadlines and regular homework and projects to turn in. I'm hoping maybe I can bring my relaxed attitude back from Argentina to school but I may just return to being plain old stressed out Amanda. Only time will tell.
Right now I can't say I don't miss Latin America (besides having to throw toilet paper in the trash can; I keep doing that anyways by accident, habit I guess), but I am quite happy to be home. For now I'll just hope that I can return back to South and Central America someday soon.
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<p>Amanda Landaverde is a 20 year-old Spanish and Psychology student at Gustavus Adolphus College who aims for a career in neuroscience studying generational trauma. In her free time, Amanda likes to creatively illuminate and counteract social injustice through art, writing, and performance with her social justice theatre troupe on campus.</p>