With only a few weeks left in Barcelona, friends began to ask me what I was most excited to come home to. What I said surprised some: “I miss lots of things, but especially the most ordinary of things”. I missed hugging the people I loved and hearing their distinct laughs, their phrases, and observing their mannerisms. I missed snuggling with my dog, running with a group, feeling cold crisp weather, and watching my favorite reality show, Survivor.
One of the curious things about coming back from abroad is that returning to this normalcy hasn’t always been that normal. Home, what was once the default, can now be seen as something that is just as cultural as living in Barcelona. When arriving to Spain for the first time, it’s hard not to notice how your daily life has to change and how others behave differently, and it’s the same when coming back to what you’ve viewed for your whole life as normal.
Why does leaving my wallet on tables on campus for a few minutes make me more skittish than usual? Why do I feel rebellious wearing athletic leggings, snow boots, and a big sweatshirt to class? Why does eating a short and casual dinner at around six o’clock feel like I’m doing something wrong? Where’s the strong coffee in tiny cups, the pigeons with missing toes, the second hand smoke, the leashless dogs, the bocadillos, and the Nit Bus?
Basically, I’ve come to more firmly grasp the relativity of normalcy, of what is “taken-for-granted” from my perspective. I’ve been able to more clearly define what culture is and actually feel it on both ends. Through my experience abroad, I grew in this area that I most wanted to grow in: self-awareness. I’ve been able to consider my own way of life, my culture, what’s explicitly important to me, and how these things are affirmed or negated implicitly by my everyday actions. Classes I’m now taking in my final semester as an undergraduate student echo and expand upon the concepts and ideas that I gained more insight on and experienced while abroad: the social construction of reality, truth, a diverse society in all ways imaginable, the “other”, worldview, and how the historical and philosophical contexts of our time come into play with all of these aspects.
I’ve been left with a lot to think about leaving Barcelona, adding onto the general reflection most students do as a chapter of their lives closes. It has left my mind buzzing and my heart seeking important and not so important conversations with others to try and get a glimpse of how they see things. I feel as if the way I think, the way I listen, and the way I interact has changed, and the prospect of the unknown is now a little less scary. I have grown so much both intellectually and personally in these four months that were so new, so fast, so very challenging, and so very heart and mind opening. This four month lucid dream spilt over into reality has certainly been a ride, and, at the present moment, I cannot even imagine how different my life and how my person would be without it.
More Blogs From This Author
<p>Hi all! My name is Emma Ropski and I'm a senior sociology and psychology major at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. I am a middle distance runner on the track and field team there and love it to bits. My interests include the sociological imagination, thrifting, lifting, daytime judge shows, and gorditas. I am so excited to share my study abroad experience in Barcelona with you!</p>