Oliver in Spain: Transitioning back to the States

I have now been back Stateside for a little under two weeks, even though it feels like I’ve been back for much longer than that. I figured I’d have a pretty easy transition back to this culture after having traveled so much throughout my life but every now and again there are certain things that remind me I’m no longer living in Spain.

I think the biggest difference I have noticed so far is the food culture. In Valencia I would sit at a café and 20 minutes later a server would ask me if I would like anything to drink or eat. In the States there is a server at your table within two minutes of sitting down. Give me a second to settle in! Similarly, in Valencia I’d finish whatever I was drinking or eating and stay seated chatting with my friends for a couple hours. In the States I feel uncomfortable staying more than 15 minutes after paying the check. It feels like I’m being quietly encouraged to get the hell out. I don’t mean to sound angry with this difference, and I’m not, it is just a very big difference between the two cultures. The US is all about efficiency and profit. The cafés here are thinking, “how many customers can I get in and out of my door in one day?” In Spain you are treated like a family member coming back for a drink. If you frequent the place, it is not unusual for the server to sit with you for a quick chat. I definitely prefer that laid back feeling.

On the other hand, the efficiency of the US was something I missed while in Spain. Sometimes you just want something done, and fast. That simply doesn’t exist in Spain. People will work on their own time and will shut down for three hours every day for a siesta. Going to a store in the early afternoon seems like such a novel idea now!

I haven’t had an overwhelming feeling of missing Valencia just yet. I’m still in the recovery stage of being back with the family. The biggest thing I miss from being abroad is the constant excitement. Living back in the Philadelphia suburbs feels so…lacking…after a semester trailblazing through Europe from one ancient city to another. That being said, it’s very nice to have access to Netflix again!

I’m half way through this break and I am already counting the days to get back to UR. I have seen a few friends here and there and will be seeing a lot more during or New Years Eve celebrations. I can’t wait to get back into the swing of things at Richmond after a nice semester of memories.

Valencia will always have a place in my heart and I am looking forward to going back the next time I’m in Spain. I think I will miss my host family most, but there will be a whole lot to miss in the weeks to come. I imagine it will all hit me hard when I am back into the regular routine of school. I will never forget all of the things I have been able to do through the past four months. It almost seems like a dream but I am pleased to see all of the pictures and words I will have forever as documentation of my experiences. Europe, I’ll see you soon. US, it’s good to be home.

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