i’m in america. back in my homeland. back at my parents house with the wonderful comforts of home – my bed, too many cable channels and access to pandora, netflix and hulu. here are some of my thoughts. just a few post-study abroad ramblings. first things first, and a i believe that others returning from developing countries would agree. america is OVERWHELMING. in all sorts of ways. you can choose between 3 dozen different types of soda and even ask for ice on the airplane. you have dozens of choices for places to eat breakfast inside the walls of the airport. each place with a good 35 different menu items to choose from. the bagel shop has 3 dozen different bagel flavors and 15 different cream cheese flavors? that’s 540 options if i did my math correctly. way too many for 10:30 in the morning. and actually, way too many options for any time of the day. what happened to simplcity? what happened to minimalism? i miss my cup of cafe con leche and tostada with dulce de leche. people don’t speak spanish at the grocery store or the coffee shop. when someone bumps into me they say ‘excuse me’ and not ‘perdon’. there is no such thing as a siesta. and it is not 85 degrees at 8:30 at night. in fact, it doesn’t get above 40 (fahrenheit) and the sun sets around 5pm. its the dead of winter. my world flipped upside down overnight. even the stars in the night sky are different. and its been harder than i expected, all of these changes.
maybe one of the less educated decisions i made during my first two days home was a shopping trip to the mall (on the only remaining saturday before christmas eve) to try and get my christmas shopping both started and finished. overwhelmingly crowded parking lots. festive christmas music. extreme sales. spoiled 15 year olds filling their parents arms with clothes and clothes and clothes and more clothes. lots of blonde people with blue eyes and stick straight hair. winter jackets and ugg boots. people out shopping in their favorite christmas sweaters, sweat pants, and slippers. sales people wearing festive holiday pajamas and santa hats. for not having seen any christmas decorations or thought about the consumerist aspect of the holiday season in mendoza, i had almost forgotten what this season was all about. not what it necessarily should be about, but regardless, what is celebrated. now i remember. and as much as i hate it, the truth is, its hard not to get swept back up into the lifestyle of this place. but its the little things about life in south america that i really really miss. i tend to forget that life hasn’t stopped, its just i’ve been missing a while.
i forgot how lucky i am, too. lucky to have traveled this world so extensively. lucky to speak another language than my own. lucky to be curious and willing to learn about other people. yesterday i had both a haircut and a dental appointment. and both my stylist and my dental hygienist were people that have never travelled. my hairstylist said she wished she had gone to college to have the opportunity to study abroad. my travel bug and love of other cultures in hand, i suggested that she look into short term programs volunteering abroad. she looked at me as if that was impossible. and maybe for her, it was. but i see no reason to stay within the borders of the united states, let alone the borders of minnesota or the borders of eagan. there is so much wonderful to see around the world. so many people to meet. but its hard to explain that to people who have never travelled, who have never explored. and don’t even let me get started about the hygienist. ‘so do they speak spanish down there?’ and ‘i would only go to a country if i could stay in a resort where everyone spoke english’ are a couple phrases that come to mind. bit my tongue but almost screamed after that one. my argentine friends and family always reminded of how lucky i am to speak a universal language. but i don’t think that english gives us an excuse to not learn another language. or two. or three. and as i come home to express my frustrations to my parents, they remind me how lucky i am. how lucky i am to have traveled the world. to have seen the good, bad, and the ugly of this magnificent world. to have stayed in both nice resorts and less than ritzy hostels. and to have met some of the most wonderful people this world has created. i am so so incredibly lucky. and i hope to continue travelling, to continue learning, and to continue teaching people about what this world has to offer. so get out there and explore. there is more to this world than the confines of your hometown.
and just because there is a lot to see in this world, i have also learned that there is something to be said about loving where you come from. being proud of your roots. and being excited about what the streets you grew up on have to offer. just last night i went to a new coffee shop that i never knew existed, a short 8 minute drive from my house. in the freezing cold and short days of winter, i watched the minnesota sunset for the first time in 5 months on friday night. and it was beautiful. the 5 o’clock sunset was a brillant orange, pink and purple, just like the wonderful argentine sunset i saw on the bus to iguazú. here i am, a world away. well at least 5,500 miles away. and the sun sets beautifully, regardless. and each day here, the sun rises, just like it did the last 5 months in argentina. i have so much to be thankful for.