Return to the Motherland


Madrid’s Plaza Mayor.

Looks like I’ve officially joined the masses of sporadic bloggers. We should all form a sorry-guys-but-life-is-just-crazy-right-now society or something. We can sit around at Starbucks in our yoga pants. It will be rad.

Anyway, I have a good excuse. (I swear!) I just got back to the U.S. on the 11th, so I’ve been overcoming jet lag/unpacking/going through weird reverse culture shock since then. Things that have surprised me include:

  • One-dollar bills are really bulky. The other day I thought I had $20, but I really just had 6 one-dollar bills. I have a new appreciation for the Sacagawea dollar coins.
  • Toilets flush via a handle on the side. In most of Europe, there’s a button on top of the tank or a plunger that you pull up. For some reason that was really confusing to me for the first week home.
  • We have to drive everywhere.
  • Grocery stores. Our grocery stores are huge and have an enormous selection of items. I missed that.
  • Free water. I’m consistently surprised by those random glasses of water that appear on the table. “Is that really mine?” I whisper, eyes gleaming at such a beautiful sight.
  • Everyone understands everything I say. It’s funny, but I have a hard time talking to people when I buy things or order food. I spoke the majority of my Spanish that way, and it’s really unnerving that people here understand me with such clarity. (On that note, I can no longer use English as a secret language.)
  • A beer at a restaurant costs at least $4. Thank goodness I have all those dollar bills.

Overall, though, it’s been good to be home. I was sort of gloomy and unhappy for the first few days, especially since I didn’t really have much to do and was waking up at 6 a.m. every day. I don’t do very well without some sort of life plan, so I’ve shed a few frustrated tears and indulged in my fair share of emotional eating. I spent the first couple days here cleaning my room and purging all my old clothes to make room for my two 50-pound suitcases.


Real Madrid Champion's League Mayo 2014

Sophie and me at the Champion’s League match in May. We were excited.

I’ve also been spending time with friends and family and been applying for jobs. I actually had my first job interview yesterday, which went really well. They already called me to schedule a second interview for next week.

More than anything, though, I miss my friends and Madrid itself. It’s strange to think I just left two weeks ago — those two weeks have passed in that characteristic fast-and-slow manner that usually comes with readjusting to a new place.I also miss speaking Spanish, and I know I’ll have to find an intercambio here soon. I keep thinking “Two weeks ago at this time I was in Retiro having a picnic.” “Three weeks ago I was in Alicante.”

My last month in Spain flew by, as last months tend to do. (We also spent about 10 days on an amazing beach vacation. More on that in an upcoming post.) My life became a whirlwind of goodbye parties and last-ditch souvenir hunting, the latter of which resulted in me buying myself exactly one bottle of wine. If anything can be said about me, it’s that I have my souvenir priorities straight. I bought a second bag to check and somehow (divine intervention?) got each to weigh 50.5 pounds, although it meant I had to ditch my beautiful soft blanket from Oysho and a couple pairs of shoes.

I had an extremely comfortable Air Canada flight from Madrid to Toronto, then a four-hour layover before heading on to Minneapolis. The flight attendants were lovely and very liberal with the snacks and the water, which I appreciated. They also had an excellent in-flight entertainment system, which meant I spent eight hours watching movies instead of sleeping.

So, aquí estoy. Applying for jobs. Catching up on this blog. Drinking a lot of coffee. Seeing old friends. Listening to an embarrassing number of Daddy Yankee songs. We’ll see what happens next.

If you’ve gone home after a long stint abroad, what did you do to make the transition easier? Any tips?


3 thoughts on “Return to the Motherland

  1. hola, you seem to be sad according to the way you write, or at least that is how i see it….why did you not apply for a second year in Spain?

    • Hi Pedro! Thanks for your comment. I actually did reapply for a second year, but I’m not sure I’m going back. I love Madrid and I love Spain, but I don’t really enjoy being a language assistant.

      And I am a little sad. There will always be a part of me that misses Spain, and I know I’ll go back. I also miss the friends I made and the city itself. But that’s part of the adjustment period, and I would have to go through it even if I stayed for a second year.

  2. Hi Olivia! I just saw this post after I commented on your comment on my blog asking what you were doing for next year. I’d say enjoy your time back home, see family and friends, and make a decision when your mind is clear. If you stay at home for a year, you can always go back to Spain the next year if you wanted to. I’m glad you are getting readjusted and enjoying time back home though!

    I remember driving EVERYWHERE, expensive beers, and the transition back to one dollar bills were big adjustment when I first returned from being abroad.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s