It feels crazy looking back at my original blog post (I am back in the United States now). I had so many new cultural experiences since early February. I traveled to Sevilla, Paris, Nice, Ghent, Brussels, Naples, Pompeii, Sorrento, Rome, Florence, Milan, Budapest, and many smaller cities in the region of Barcelona. I have learned a great deal about Barcelona’s culture, and my Spanish has significantly improved. Regardless, I think do not think my identity has changed considerably. There is a common perception that study abroad “changes you,” but I don’t know how accurate that is.
I certainly settled into Barcelona and became more comfortable talking to locals, allowing my “dumb American” identity to slightly subside. In my last week, I had a fifteen minute conversation in Spanish with a waiter at my favorite Mexican restaurant in Barcelona. I clearly had adapted better than many other American students, which was comforting to know. In March, when I was in line at a popular sandwich place, my friends and I were the only Americans to order in Spanish. However, my American identity was still very present. I dressed differently than Spaniards, I went to many restaurants that attracted other Americans, and I felt lost when visiting other European countries.
Other parts of my identity have remained completely stagnant. Now that I have returned to the United States, I realize that my ethnic and religious identity have not changed. I am still a slightly confused, half-brown atheist, but I am completely okay with this. I take pride in my unique identity.
While I have not found that my identity has dramatically changed since my first blog post, I have gained a greater understanding of other cultures and have become more independent, as I have had to make new friends and establish a new community on a completely different continent. I am so glad I went abroad (I had the worst cold feet right before), and already miss so many parts of my international community. I miss my friends, my favorite restaurants, the warm people of Barcelona, and the constant sense of newness that accompanied my everyday experiences. I will hopefully return to Barcelona soon, but if not, I know I will stay connected to the people I have met there thanks to modern technology. I have made a commitment to practice Spanish with my mother, so I don’t lose my language skills, and will stay up to date with Barcelona news so I feel connected to place I got to know for four months.