Adjusting to my old life in the United States after six weeks in Colombia has involved reverse culture shock, confusion surrounding languages, and missing my time abroad.
I knew that reverse culture shock was common, but the strangest things are what caused it. The drivers in the United States always seemed aggressive, but in comparison to Colombian drivers, they are very considerate of other people on the road. In Colombia, pedestrians must wait until there are no cars; drivers will not slow down to allow them to cross the street. Also, in the Midwestern U.S., we use air conditioning in every room of the house, but unlike the South, we usually leave it pretty warm rather than significantly reducing the temperature. Now that I am home, I definitely miss being able to go to my room and turn the AC on to cool off after sitting in a hot room without AC.
When we first landed in Miami, we waited for our bags for nearly an hour. That hour was very strange because although Miami is a city with many Spanish speakers, the primary language that we heard was English. After six weeks in a country with very few English speakers, hearing my native language did not feel “right”. To be able to speak English was no longer a relief, but almost a chore. I wanted to speak Spanish with my friends, simply because we could, and I wanted to show off my ability to speak two languages.
Since the trip, I occasionally have trouble remembering words in English. Sometimes, the way to say something in Spanish feels “better” than the English equivalent, but now, I have to adjust and use the English version of a saying because the people around me do not know Spanish. For example, words like “entonces” and “obviamente” just seem to convey how I want to express my thoughts than “so” and “obviously”.
Now, I miss the excitement of my program. We found an ice cream place called Popsy and returned every few days for more. We took dance lessons and ate traditional Colombian food. Best of all, the majority of the weekends, we traveled to other cities and participated in a lot of activities. I live in a small town, and I miss the business of the large city of Barranquilla.
My trip to Colombia gave me a new perspective on culture and language, and I cannot wait to return.