Back in California for Christmas, this is my third time coming home from Europe for the holidays, and each time has felt very different.
The first time was coming back from my semester in Italy in 2008, and I was too cool for America. I’d gotten my first taste of living overseas. I remember despising anything American, any reminder that I wasn’t in Europe anymore. Pick-up trucks, super-sized grocery stores, and kids running lemonade stands would all anger me. “That’s so American,” I would think, imagining myself a highly cultured individual now that I had spent four months in Europe. Looking back now, it was immature and arrogant. I eventually got off my high horse, but that deep desire to be somewhere else in the world is what got me to Spain, so I can’t regret it.
|How could I not be cool having lived a short walk from here?|
Last year I came home for the holidays four months in to my time in Spain. It was perfect timing for me, right at that stage of culture shock when I was getting really homesick. The honeymoon stage of culture shock had ended and I needed a taste of home. Peanut butter. Mexican food. Target. Driving a car. People being on time. I was craving it all. I needed a break from jamón, tapas, cobbled streets, and being a guiri. Two weeks at home was exactly what the doctor ordered and I went back to Spain in January with a new wave of motivation to make the most of my experience.
|On my “To Eat” list every trip home|
This year I feel different from either of the previous two times. I am of course enjoying all the comforts of home, but to be honest I wasn’t ecstatic to come back like I was last year. Spain has absolutely turned in to home for me, and I was sad to be leaving it for the holidays. All the little things that used to bug me are just a part of life I’ve adapted to. I’ve found the shinier side of the coin for nearly everything that I at one point complained about in Spain. Nothing is open on Sundays, but there are six other days in the week to run your errands. Waiters and sales clerks don’t put on fake customer service smiles like they do here, but when you run in to someone you know, you kiss them on both cheeks and ask them how they and their family are, because you actually care.
I will always be glad to see my family in California and they are the reason I will keep coming back, but I didn’t have a check list of things to eat and experience while at home like I did last year. If there was a list, it would have been: 1- Spend time with family. 2- Spend time with friends. I am definitely fulfilling that list, and enjoying every minute of it. Ten more days of family and friends, and ten more days until Spain. Both are good things in my book.