I’ve been teaching English and traveling in and around Spain for almost 7 months. I’m quickly approaching double the amount of time (8 months) that I’ve spent abroad but it feels like I’ve been away from the USA for three or four times as long. The first time I was abroad I lived and studied in the South of Spain for just four short months. That experience was one of the highlights of my life and while I was fully immersed in the culture and language most of the time, it was just a teaser of what life abroad could look like for me. Now that I’ve surpassed that amount of time, living outside of my native county could be something I could get used to.
However, one question that keeps getting tossed my way time and time again is this, “Do you miss your country?” (Echas de menos tu país [mucho]?)
The answer I have honestly been giving those people that are very curious to know my response is this: “Yes, I do but not too much. I’m very happy to be here.”
(Si, pero no mucho. Estoy muy contenta estar aquí en España.)
If you know me very well or have at least heard me speak about my love for the Spanish language and Spain as a whole, you may understand the above response very well. I didn’t know that I wanted to be here long term until I realized it (and was honest with myself) in late 2012/early 2013. It’s something I had to work through as I explored other options like an international MBA program, full-time work in my college town of Jacksonville, Florida, and even other Latin American countries.
Well, to be even more honest, since I left after my semester abroad in 2010, I have been longing to return. The reason didn’t really have to do much with the culture or the food or the lifestyle (although all three are wonderful!), it was more because of the language and the people I met here. Four months doesn’t seem like a very long time to get to know someone (or multiple people at that) but it’s surprisingly enough time to learn about someone and get to know them personally. And when you only have just a short time to get to know them, you bypass all the superficial topics and get down to the nitty-gritty ones like learning their dreams, goals, and failures and many more deep and very human topics. At least that was my experience.
When your mind and heart are constantly thinking about another place, whether you have been to that place or not, you just have a strong desire to be there. And that place doesn’t have to be another country. If you live in the US, it can be another state or just another city in your own state. It doesn’t matter where but the ‘where’ does matter to you. The important thing to note is that that place is likely where you are not but it’s where you see yourself being. For some, it’s the final destination or that place where you are going to settle down and live a good portion of your life there. Perhaps the rest of your life. Spain is not my final destination as my wanderlust and love for travel in general just grows stronger with each passing year. It is my destination right now and I am content with that.
Some people have also asked me where else I’d like to be or where else I’d like to live. I can’t think of anywhere else at the moment because I finally am where I have wanted to be for so months, years, nearly half a decade. I’m living in Spain and that’s enough for me. I can’t see myself living anywhere else at the moment but I’m sure that might change in the future. Only time will tell…
As far as missing my country goes, there are a few things that I do miss. And some things that I didn’t know I missed until I went without them (or seeing them) for months on end.
Here’s a short list:
1. The efficiency and quick processing times almost everywhere. (Spain might as well be the Spanish word for slow-haha-when it comes to some bureaucratic procedures. I still love you Spain even though I personally march to the beat of a faster drummer! :P)
2. Real brown sugar. (Chocolate chip cookies just don’t taste the same here!)
3. Frozen cookie dough and string cheese in the refrigerated section of the grocery store/supermarket. (I especially missed these around Christmas time! The string cheese realization just hit me this week! I would love both right now.)
4. No roundabouts and clearer marked lines on the major highways. (Life without roundabouts is so much simpler to me…)
5. My family and long time friends. (It’s not so much that I long to have them by my side at all times -I’ve overcome that stage of homesickness thankfully- it’s just that I would love to have a few of them by my side when I’m on an adventure. I know a handful of people who would say “yes” at the spur of the moment and join me and I would love for that to become more of a reality, though. Thank goodness my brother visited and we got to go adventuring together but more on that later. 😉 )
For those of you wondering about when I will return to my country, I’ll be heading back in late June. It won’t be too much longer now!
Are you living abroad right now or have you lived abroad before? Do/did you miss your home country? Tell me one or two things that you miss from your own country and why in the comments below. Looking forward to reading your comments! 🙂