My time abroad was incredible and has definitely shaped the way that I interact with people. Throughout two flights from Madrid back to Chicago, I only talked in Spanish with native speakers. My first taste of reverse culture shock was going through security where I got yipped at by one the guards when I tried to call my dad while waiting in line (I had a good laugh about my ignorance, but I suppose you can’t use your phone in a security line). After reuniting with my family and friends, it took a few days of sharing my experience to break out of talking in Spanglish. I quickly became tired of sharing the details of my trip with close family and friends, and began to settle for sharing just a few highlights. Having been in a foreign country, I am now much kinder to visiting travelers and strangers in general. My fear of talking to native Spanish speakers has dissipated and has been replaced with a desire to talk with native speakers. My friends and family frequently ask me how to say certain English words and phrases in Spanish, and even though it gets a little tiring, it’s a nice new way to connect with them.
Along the trip I met so many great friends and wish that I could return and spend more time with them. Overall, I’d say that I miss Spain—the food, the atmosphere, the countryside and mountains, and the people— and do plan on returning someday.
Advice for future students: be open to everything (weird looking food included) and push the boundaries of your comfort zone, be kind to everyone that you meet and don’t be afraid to talk to them and make friends, and most importantly, have fun and be safe.