An American Anthropologist Abroad

Kelly Crewse
July 7, 2016

I'll start off by saying that I love Madrid. Though it's the capital of Spain and a huge, bustling city, it's often put second on a tourist's "To-Go" list behind Barcelona. Madrid doesn't have a beach, but it has amazing parks. It may not have the Sagrada Família, but it has the Palacio Real. I understand the pull of Barcelona - it's on my list as well - but the people and the pace of Madrid are unbelievable. I don't think I've ever met more relaxed, open people than the Spaniards of Madrid. Another thing I love about Spain - the siestas! Finally, a place where taking naps in the middle of the day is not only socially accepted, but encouraged.

I'm an anthropology major with a focus in museum studies; I've mainly studied museum management and education through my years at school. I'm not an art historian by any means, nor do I pretend to be. I've been something like a big sponge these past two months and it's opened up my eyes to so much. In Paris, I knew a little about the wonders of the Mona Lisa. In Rome, I'd read about the architecture and the wonders of the Roman monuments and mosaics. Like many things in Madrid, I was an open book for its art history. These past two weeks we've visited the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza, and the Reina Sofîa, and seen Velázquez, Goya, El Greco, Picasso, and Dalí. How had I been so in the dark about these amazing painters? Sure, I've used the sarcastic quip, "Okay, Picasso," before, but I'd never studied his work. Madrid's collections are fantastic, and I love the country's passion for obtaining and maintaining Spanish artwork.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited to go home. Throughout these weeks here in three cities I've rode the rollercoaster of homesickness many times. Some days, I can't wait to see my family and dogs again, and get a nice, fat burrito from Taco Bell (no, seriously. I miss those the most, I think). Other days, I think of how I'll miss being in a new place and getting to explore someplace different every day. It's a seesaw of emotions, but I'm grateful to be experiencing them. I miss home, but how often will I get to say that I roamed the streets of Madrid on a Thursday after class?

I know I probably sound like a broken record with all of this homesickness talk, but it's probably the biggest hurdle study abroad kids go through, even if they won't admit it. They may not call it homesickness -- their word may be "culture shock," or "adjustment period," but we all feel the absence of familiarity. It would be a little concerning if we didn't feel this way. But what defines this feeling is how we deal with it - whether we call our families every night to break down that day's activities, send postcards about our travels, or leave it all for one, epic story on homecoming. At the end of the day we're all just college kids trying to take yet another big, independent step into the world.

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Kelly Crewse

<p>I&#39;m Kelly, 21-year old senior anthropology and museum studies student at Indiana University. When I&#39;m not working or studying, you can find me drinking too much coffee, watching unhealthy amounts of tv, or writing one of the 4 stories I&#39;ve started - usually all at the same time. Lover of pugs, the color green, and good wines. My blogs are for you if you&#39;re interested in traveling with anxiety, culture discussions, bad puns, tourist-y photos, sarcasm, and many, many useless facts.</p>

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