Above is the chart by which I’m supposed to evaluate my experiences and offer some thoughts on whether or not I agree and why or why not. I’ll simply go through each point in order for clarity.
Phase 1 (Arrival) Everything is awesome when you’re pa… Wait. Everything is new, interesting and exciting. This is true, but frankly I still feel like everything in Barcelona / Catalonia / Spain is pretty much awesome. Perhaps if I were in a more exotic or less developed country I could imagine the ‘awesome’ factor wearing off.
Phase 2 (Couple weeks in) Differences become apparent and irritating. Problems occur and frustration sets in. I don’t really identify with the chart on this point. I had very little issues adjusting or coping with cultural differences. Probably the only real big issue I had was simply adjusting to the time difference for sleep.
Phase 3 (4 weeks or so) You may feel homesick depressed and helpless. I think I definitely had and still experience this randomly. No matter how much I love Barcelona, I’m still longing for my closest loved ones. This feeling may have been much worse had I not met a great group of people here, and I can imagine that for some this is much more severe. Also, it was nice to know that from the beginning, my girlfriend was coming out to visit.
Phase 4 (6 weeks) You develop strategies to cope with difficulties and feeling make new friends, and learn to adopt to the host culture. Between school, my language exchange partner, Gilman stuff, and my new friends, I’ve never really had a chance to just relax. I suppose that also helped deter more feelings of homesickness.
Phase 5 (10 weeks) You accept and embrace cultural differences. You see the host as your new home and don’t wish to depart or leave new friends. There is definitely some truth in this. I do feel a sense of ‘home’ at my home-stay. But as I’ve said before, it is still pretty impersonal and I feel more like a guest at a hostel than I do a member of a home. Certainly, the friends I have made here are great, and I do wish a few of them lived closer in the states, but to say that I don’t want to depart is a stretch. I am looking forward to departing because I have plans and goals that I need to get moving on. I can’t sit around in Barcelona! (Maybe if I was 10 years younger..)
Phase 6 (10 weeks) You are excited about returning home. Yes, I agree. Compared to Barcelona, the city of Lewiston is a sleepy village… I could go for some time in a sleepy village.
Phase 7 (Week or two home) You may feel frustrated, angry or lonely because friends and family don’t understand what you experienced and how you changed. You miss the host culture and friends and may look for ways to return. Technically, at the time of writing this, I haven’t returned home yet. But I know that I’m going to encounter some degree of these feelings. Studying abroad is an eye-opening, mind-expanding and emotionally challenging experience. I can’t expect people to understand something so profound… nor can I hope to even possess the eloquence to adequately express how it feels.
I can also attest to thinking about ways return already. In fact, I may pursue applying for the Fulbright Scholarship since I am graduating this semester!
Phase 8 (3 weeks at home) You gradually adjust to life at home. Things start to seem more normal and routine again, although not exactly the same. I can only say that this seems likely.
Phase 9 (4 weeks at home) You incorporate what you learned and experienced abroad in your new life and career. Again, I feel like this will be the case. I am sure I’ll be more conscious about recycling and water-usage because of my time here in Spain. I can also see myself drawing on this experience as a selling point for my applications to graduate school and future employment opportunities.