Traveling gives you everything you need but nothing you want. It answers your questions but not the ones you originally asked. I know reverse culture shock; I know it well and every time I arrive home from a major trip I start to doubt everything I know. I go through my closet and throw out clothes that I wouldn't wear abroad. I go to the grocery store and choose ingredients that remind me of the shelves in Spain. My circumstance was a little different than most of my travel companions. I never had the chance to study abroad in college. That was a luxury that I couldn't afford. Not at 21 anyway. I always wanted to live abroad. A boyfriend and I always joked about moving to Chile for a summer. I'd work at a coffee shop and learn Spanish. He would fix up his mom's house and we'd have the adventure of a lifetime. As the story goes, we broke it off and our plans of moving dissolved. Flash forward a year later, September 2017, just graduated college, bartending and still heartbroken. I knew I needed more. I just didn't know what of. More freedom, more adventure, more challenges? I googled my options, researched grad schools in London, volunteer programs in South America and after a week of contemplation I submitted my application for CISabroad's internship abroad program. Despite my excitement, my peers and community had mixed views and a lot of doubts about my moving to Spain, and they were not afraid to be verbal about it. No one understood the point of me spending money to work somewhere without pay, no one understood why I was leaving my very lucrative job bartending for an internship, after I already graduated. I didn't know how to communicate with them that I knew there was a void in my life and I needed a change. Those who were excited for me, told me they hope I meet a Spanish man, one I can marry and have a wonderful life with. I always replied, “That would be awesome, but honestly I’m not going to find a man, I’m going to find myself.” I never thought that statement would hold so much truth.
After three months, long walks through the gothic quarter, a job that reminded me that passion gets you farther than practicalness and copious amounts of tapas, I found what I was looking for. My life will never be the same post Spain, but I couldn't be more proud of my new-found self. I did it, I lived and worked abroad, I feel as though I can do almost anything. Of course, some days I long for café con leches in the mid-morning and vermuterías on every passing corner in Eixample. I wish all cities in Europe and the United States were as walkable as Barcelona; where the art, the love, the color of the city makes you want to stop in your tracks and just look up and take it all in. Barcelona will without a doubt be one of the best chapters of my life. But I am so excited to see what rivals it.
My advice to anyone thinking about traveling, studying abroad, working abroad etc. is, travel hurts, it pulls you a part, confuses you and convinces you to doubt everything you know. Slowly but surely you discover new pieces of yourself you never knew existed and eventually those parts of you (old and new) are put back together. You are forever changed, and as hard and stressful as it was, you come back home with the urge, the want, the need to do it all over again.