Trip Start Apr 11, 2008
18Trip End Jul 03, 2008
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I had wondered how I would handle being in a foreign country for 3 months of my life, and I found that I went through 3 distinct phases. The first month - it was like being on vacation (although I did actually have to go to work). I was so excited to be living in Europe, improve my Spanish and learn a new culture that every day was a new adventure. By the 2nd month, after having dealt with multiple difficulties from my all-too-slowly developing Spanish skills, never really getting enough fresh fruits and vegetables, and eventually having my checked luggage burglarized while I was on one of my many weekend trips - I was growing frustrated and tired of things being so different from how they were in my own culture back in Atlanta, and homesickness set in.
Then, almost suddently, I felt like I finally "got it". Overnight my Spanish somehow went "I know a few key words" to almost slow, conversational (although I only spoke in the present tense - but somehow people understood me). I eventually understood, accepted, and maybe even appreciated the Spanish culture. And, much to my surprise, although I missed my friends, family and the good-ole American way, I was not as eager to get on the plane home as I thought that I would have been.
The people in Spain taught me a lot. "Diane, in Spain, you can't do everything", was what my boss told me one day. He said, "We have to choose what we want to do in our lives, and we may not have everything - but we enjoy our lives by taking our time doing whatever it is we choose. You Americans try to do everything. You have careers, families, big houses with yards, pets and aging parents. You rush through your days with your heads down focused on getting everything done at work so you can race home and spend time with your families only to fall into bed exhausted every night. You have so much more than we do here in Spain, but is it really an enjoyable life?"
In a way, he's right. We have endless opportunities in the US - and most of us take all of them. We spend too much time trying to accomplish everything we've signed up for - and sometimes the more important things don't get enough time and attention. This "little bit of Spain" will come home with me, and I hope I don't forget this as I get back into my American "mad dash" ways.
On July 3rd, I boarded my one-way flight back to Atlanta. Bye-bye Madrid for now. I'll miss you!