Hatchet Expat: Saying ‘adios’ to life abroad

I never understood why people refer to cities as if they were human until I left Sevilla, Spain. My feelings toward leaving my newfound home are so complex, it’s as if I am leaving the love of my life.

Saying goodbye to my beautiful, comforting and lively city seems more personal than I ever expected. I am lucky enough to extend my semester abroad in the form of a 10-day Eurotrip through Rome, Florence, Venice, Budapest and Madrid. So as I sit cramped en route to Budapest on the Ryanair plane – one thing I definitely will not miss – I find myself struggling to sum up my experience in one short column.

The truth is, there are not enough words in English, Spanish or Italian to describe how I feel after four months immersed in a foreign culture.

Upon arriving in Spain, I expected a bad case of culture shock. I had not taken a Spanish class since high school, never booked a plane ticket myself and still ate an early dinner every night.

But the transition to Spanish life turned out to be relatively seamless. I chose to live with one of my best friends from high school, and as close as we were before studying abroad, our relationship is now stronger than I ever believed was possible. Her companionship was an instant cure for homesickness, and I cannot imagine my trip without her.

My second remedy for homesickness was a visit from my family in April. Being able to travel to Madrid, Granada, Ronda, Estepona and Gibraltar with my family is one of my most treasured memories from the semester in Spain, and I am not just saying that because of the free food that came with it.

As I prepare to return home, I am even more afraid of what kind of reverse culture shock is in store. Jet setting off to France, Portugal or other cities across Spain has become a casual occurrence, and I rarely leave my room before midnight for a night out.

Am I sad to return to the world of dryers, Wi-Fi and 24-hour diners? Not at all. But I would not trade my experience for the world. I feel like I am not going home as a new person, but rather as a person with new insight. The world is a beautiful place, and I am so lucky to have been able to see just a fraction of it.

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