Today’s blog post comes to us from UW-Plateville student & API blogger Josh Weaver. He’s studying abroad with us in Seville, Spain.
Hindsight is 20/20. It’s easy to see what is directly in front of you, but the real challenge is not only seeing in front of you, but what is all around you by thinking about how you are interacting with the rest of the world.
I am 100% guilty of doing this all the time as my first instinct is to worry about my own welfare, future, etc. This has led to me missing the big picture of life or a situation many times. Along with looking out for ourselves first, we also have a tendency to think we are more unique than we actually are. The numbers and statistics doesn’t apply to me when they actually do. Three weeks in and with that perfect hindsight I see how I have once again done both of these things.
At my study abroad orientation at UW-Platteville, we talked about the assimilation curve we will face. When you arrive you have all the adrenaline and excitement of being in a new country, but then the excitement wears off and you run into culture shock. You don’t understand or like the cultural differences from the United States, and you feel pretty down. After time, you adjust to the culture and get used to living in the new culture.
When I heard all this I thought, “Not me” “I have never been homesick and I am completely ready to take on Spain.”
Hindsight 20/20, I have gone through the curve as written so far. When I came I was so excited to be exploring Spain, and I couldn’t wait to get moved in with my host mom in Sevilla. However, by the end of the first week I was frustrated and just wanted to go home. I missed my friends and family, being able to eat “American” food, and just the comfort of what I had always been exposed to. I went into my phone to set a countdown timer to when I would fly back home. Talking with my family that week made it worse because I could see my house where I really wanted to be.
Thankfully school started which brought back order to my life. I have always been the person who functions better when I have a lot to do. Going to class, exploring with my friends, and finding random activities to do kept my mind distracted and has made the time fly by so far. Earlier this week, I was thinking and I realized that I wasn’t homesick anymore. I still miss my family, but I am enjoying Spain without a burning desire to be reunited with American culture. It’s also the same moment that I saw the 20/20 hindsight vision of how I have followed the chart exactly.
The next phase of the chart is the same as the first half, except for my return to the United States. You will be excited to see your friends and family, but then you experience reverse culture shock.
Life is not the same as when you left. People have changed and you’ve changed which is hard to except and causes a low again. With time you will re-adjust and become adapted to your home culture again. I also never thought I would experience any problems when I return, but now given my experiences I have accepted the fact that I am going to have to go through reverse culture shock. Absolutely not excited about it, but this time I’m not trying to fool myself with saying I’m an exception from the rest of the world.
The homesickness I had has not been for nothing though.
I don’t know how many times I have been told, “Don’t take what you have in this life for granted.” Being homesick has shown me how blessed I am living in Darlington, increased my appreciation for my friends and family, and reminded me of the beauty around me I often take for granted. I am trying to be vigilant and see the beauty of Sevilla like the day I arrived. I am trying to look at the big picture of my time in Sevilla and make the very most out of my short time here. Though it is completely against my nature, I’m finally stopping to “smell the roses” or what is more accurate in Sevilla is I’m stopping to smell the orange trees.