Cultural Adaptation to Lifestyle Change: Returning from Studying Abroad

Despite the fact that my study abroad experience this summer has been a mere 6 weeks, there are many components of it that have had an impact on my lifestyle that I had in the United States. While there are certain things that I don’t think I will really miss upon my return to ‘MURICA, there are definitely a fair few aspects that I want to incorporate into my lifestyle back home.

1. Dress to impress
This has been a significant change for me. People here just simply dress a lot better than we do back in the US. No yoga pants or basketball shorts to class everyday, no grimy T-shirts and ratty flip flops. I don’t think it should be too difficult, although rolling out of bed and running to the bus stop is a crime I have committed many times, but with previous night outfit planning and taking the time to lay everything out, I think I can make this happen at least most of the time!
I also hope to take time to actually style my hair and do my makeup more often, I’ve found that taking the time to do this makes me feel more “ready” for the day and more involved in my own life, instead of sleepwalking through it, looking like garbage and just trying to survive tbe toils of the day.
2. Enjoy actual meals
This has been one of the most dramatic changes for me since being here. In the US, we snack, we eat on the go, we grab whatever is available and then run out the door to our jobs or classes or whatever involvements. Here, I eat a small breakfast, starve until lunch at 1:30, which is usually huge with salad, soup, a big entre and various side dish options, and then a small dinner at 10pm. I almost never snack in between meals unless I’m absolutely starving, then I grab Doritos from the vending machine (guilty) but that’s about it and it has only happened once… Or twice…
 When I get back to the US I really want to make a point of preparing myself meals and sitting down, at the kitchen table, with no homework or other distractions, and taking the time to eat and enjoy my food. It’s something that will be challenging considering I work in the service industry and thus dinner hours, but here I’ve been eating dinner at 10:30pm anyway so maybe it won’t be so hard to continue. Lunch may also be a challenge since I have classes during the day fall semester, but I think I will find a way to make it work. Hopefully my roommates will even want to join me once in awhile! This also means I need to get more into meal planning, taking time on Sundays to figure out meals for the week, which will be really beneficial health wise. 
3. Stay out late into the night
Since being in Spain I have (almost) gotten used to getting ready to go out at 11 or 11:30 and then heading to the bars or clubs no earlier than 12:30. It’s not so much that I want to stay out until 5am every weekend back at school, but instead I just want to try to actually go out with friends more, even if I’m coming from work or otherwise. I used to skip going out if I waitressed that night, justifying it that 11pm was “too late” to get ready to go out. Not anymore.
4. Siesta
I’ve always liked naps, but living here has made me a pro at the afternoon siesta. Many times in the past when I’ve tried to take a nap after class before starting homework or before heading to work, I get distracted by my phone or I lay in bed thinking of all the things I need to do and I end up stressing out and not sleeping at all. Now I have no problem throwing my phone aside and falling into a solid sleep for an hour or so every single day. It really does wonders to refresh and energize me to study for tests and write papers, and it also makes it more bearable to have later nights with early mornings.

5. Speaking in Spanish whenever possible, of course
I really really really do not want to lose the skills I have learned and the vocabulary I have aquired since being here in Spain, and I want to continue to build my speaking ability throughout this year and my life in general. I hope to join a conversations group at school and meet up with friends from study abroad to practice our Spanish skills (probably at the bar) so I don’t forget or lose any of it.
This past summer has truly been an incredible experience, I’ve learned so much about myself, made great friends and became a part of another place so far from where I call home. I hope that my experience here will continue impact me once I return to the US in more ways than just this list of things I hope to keep up in my lifestyle.
Xoxo Valerie

One thought on “Cultural Adaptation to Lifestyle Change: Returning from Studying Abroad

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  1. I loved Spain when I visited and wished I got to stay longer! I totally agree with Europeans doing much better at dressing up and eating differently. It reminds me of striving to live that lifestyle once again.

    I'm definitely enjoying your posts and living vicariously through you! 🙂


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