Imagine the relief you feel when you think your phone is in one pocket, realize it’s “missing”, and then find it in your other pocket. Now multiply that times 500. THAT was the feeling I felt upon stepping off of my airplane in The US. It was a feeling of familiarity and comfort that I didn’t even realize I had been missing. I didn’t realize that for the past month I had been dreading spontaneous conversations because I was afraid that I would forget how to conjugate a verb or not know a specific vocab word. When I stepped off my plane I wanted to talk to everyone and ask them how their day was or ask if they needed help with their luggage because I was completely unbound by our language.
I went home and immediately ate a whole bell pepper and then went out for some good ‘ol mexican food (with extra queso). I almost teared up when they brought me *free* water before I even opened up their menu. I had become accustomed to paying 2-3 euros for water with every meal that I forgot what it was like to consider water a complimentary commodity. During the first few days, whenever I went out with my family I was constantly amazed by the overabundance of public bathrooms. In europe, it was difficult to find a public bathroom even in a metro station or mall.
Despite the relief I felt to be back in my homeland, it didn’t take long for me to start missing Spain again. The architecture of Spain will be something I’ll never get over. Every building had the most beautiful facade, you could tell that every building was considered an art piece during its time. I quickly started missing the feeling of being surrounded by an assortment of languages. When I went to my local mexican restaurant, I almost started ordering my food in Spanish but then received a strange look from the waitress. I forgot that it wasn’t normal to speak anything other than English here.
I’m very thankful for my time in Europe and Spain. I feel like I am MUCH more apathetic towards non-native English speakers in the US now. I have a lot of admiration for people who are attempting to learn a second language. I could see myself trying to get more involved in different groups around the UA campus next semester that help people learning English; I know how daunting it can be to try to immerse yourself in a language you aren’t fluent in.
I loved all of the views I got to see and the people I got to meet. I can’t wait until I get to return to Europe again but for now I’m going to enjoy spending lots of time with family and friends, eating queso, and drinking free water in my homeland.