a few thoughts for you to mull over as I sit here debating whether to wash my hair or not (some things never change, no matter what country you’re in).
Realized recently, and wanted to blog it for the world to realize as well, how much your world shifts after living in a new place for a year. This realization was cemented with the whole volcano disaster that started in Iceland and ended up wreaking havoc all over western Europe (as if to say: “Iceland is still here and still important, people!”). Half of my classmates were stuck in various paradises (Mallorca, Paris, etc.) and couldn’t get home for Monday classes, while the other half were e-emoting via Facebook about their fears that they might not get to return home on May 7. I realized then that had I been in America, it would have been just another blurb in the international section of the Daily Progress, or just another headline on CNN.com which I never even visit, and therefore would have really meant nothing to me. Suddenly, however, being in Europe, the event rocked my world (even for just a little bit).
I also have recently been gulping down 1,5L (to use their system) bottles of water due to a rare form of allergies/stress/swine flu that has infiltrated my body, only to realize that the water inside is at room temperature. This may not seem revolutionary to anyone, but coming from a family that is awoken by the sound of Mom pounding her frozen bottles of water with a hammer on the kitchen counter, it’s quite a change. During the humid Virginia summer leading up to my departure, I distinctly remember walking around the house (barefoot! another custom I left behind) clutching sweaty Mason jars filled with ice cold well water. Now it’s bottles of whatever, straight from the store with no luxury of refrigeration. Again, little things that I used to take for granted, that were completely different (or unattainable) here that shocked me upon my arrival, that now have been adopted into my daily life. Other culture shocks I’ve gotten used to include: pre-paid cell phones (I’m still a sick texter, however), pharmacies where everything is over-the-counter, buses you must hail in order to ride, no free refills (which has been replaced by the equally appealing free tapa), the metric system (okay, not going to lie, it still confuses me) and the lack of measuring cups, 24-hour time, supper at 930, etc.
Also momentous was my entrance into the adult world, which occurred Tuesday. Okay, maybe I haven’t entered that world just yet, but I did turn 21. Kind of [read: really] anticlimactic since I was already allowed to drink here, since I’m 4000 miles away from my family, and since it was a weekday. But celebrate we did, and reflect on growing old I did, too. And that reflection brought me to another explanation for why this day was anticlimactic: having waited so long to finally be 21, I realized how little that really signifies. When I think about how many experiences I’ve had just this year, I am conscious of how many more wait me in the years to come. It’s a staggering thought. Ademas, thought about how I’ve matured somewhat, either because it’s the right time to do so, or because I’m in a foreign place and having to adapt, reassessing my values and habits from a new angle, etc. Realized, for example, that nowadays it is less important to me to have a mega party with lots of flashy presents and party hats, but that it’s more important that nothing really shitty happens. If the day turns out well, it’s been a good birthday, and that’s really all I can ask for. Also realized I must be getting older, because youth culture is starting to freak me out. For example, take “chat roulette”, a topic my friends and I pondered today before our exam. What is it exactly, you ask? Not sure I’m the most qualified to answer this, but basically a video chat site that allows you to basically speed date with hundreds of people. You start a video chat and if you don’t get along or caer bien or lo que sea, you can switch chat partners. I really have no more to say about this except: ¡qué asco! (DISGUSTING). The bottom line is not how I feel about the corruption of youths due to their growing dependency on machines or internetzzzz to communicate or interact, but rather that I had no idea this phenomenon existed, why it was appealing, and who was using it (which takes us back to paragraph number 1: how my world has shifted east).
So there you have it, thoughts that have come to me in dreams, or during those long hours I spend lying boca arriba in the center of my little twin bed before going to sleep, my mind humming with scenarios and conversations and romantic notions (a sign that maybe I haven’t fully grown up yet). Thoughts of a 21 year old, on the eve of her return to the States, to her home, on the eve of her leaving one of the most meaningful experiences of her 21 years of life.
(P.S.- still haven’t solved the hair question. guess I can’t be all that wise and mature just yet.)