After the initial excitement of knowing I am going see my friends and family soon, I am starting to wonder what it will be like.
I will have been gone for 9 months, traveling in countries that have different lifestyles, cultural norms, and beliefs than my own country. I have adapted to this, and I have accepted some of the lifestyle changes.
Will I have culture shock?
I don’t think so.
The last 4 months have been spent in Buenos Aires, which is a large, modern city full of activity and trendy restaurants, bars, and boutique shops. If I was coming home after living in a small town without any stoplights in rural Nicaragua where I couldn’t drink the water, had to shower outside, and awoke to roosters every morning, then maybe I would experience culture shock.
But I am sure some parts of Latin America will come with me.
Will I still keep my in-case-of-robbery money in my bra?
Will I try to barter for my vegetables at Kroger?
Will I think I am unattractive because the men don’t say, “Hola, linda!” (linda = pretty/ beautiful) when I walk past them on the street?
I have a few worries too.
Will I be able to stick to my lifestyle choices?
Even though I am coming home, I am still on my travel budget. In fact my travel budget has shrunk on a monthly basis, since I am planning to stretch my funds further and travel longer. So I will not be eating out for every meal and going out for drinks every night.
But it is not just about the budget. I like to live a healthy lifestyle. I have to admit I drank too much wine and indulged in a few too many empanadas and sweets. There are no regrets, especially about the amazing wine, but I want this period at home to be about getting back to my normal lifestyle.
Will I forget all of my Spanish?
This is a big deal for me because I have struggled to learn Spanish to the level I want to be. I am going to practice vocabulary every day with flash cards (thanks to Nate for this suggestion). I can email and Skype with the Spanish-speaking friends I have met on my travels. And I can check out all of the website suggestions people posted in the comments of my last post about learning Spanish.
Will it be harder to leave this time?
I really do not know what to expect. The logical side of me says it will not be more difficult because I have already been gone for a long time and know I can do it. But you never know. The goodbyes were really hard the first time around.
I am looking forward to many things during this trip home.
I will get to see my 4-year-old nephew, who I have been told has not yet forgotten about his Aunt Stephie. My friends’ kids have grown up. My friends have had more babies. My friends have gotten married. My friends have bought new homes.
I am looking forward to the face-to-face conversations with friends and family. Skype is awesome, but most people I know don’t use Skype. And even with Skype, it is not the same as being in the room.
I am also going to force the friends and family that have not yet figured how to use Skype to do it while I am home, so there are no excuses (you know who you are).
On a less sentimental note…
I am going to use my credit card EVERYWHERE and NEVER carry cash with me. (Don’t worry. I still pay it off every month). But I want to earn that cash back and miles. Plus, it is just so much more convenient.
I am going to drink free re-fills of Diet Coke and coffee like it’s my job.
I am going to enjoy having water at my table in a restaurant free of charge.
I am looking forward to feeling safer and carrying my camera around without constant glances around me to see if someone shady looks like they want to steal it. (Wouldn’t it be ironic if I was robbed in Ohio?)
I am looking forward to having the opportunity to pack again and replenish some supplies. I didn’t do so bad my first time packing, but I definitely will change things up this time around.
I am looking forward to having a new wardrobe. I am going to wear cute clothes and quite possibly every pair of high heels I have in my storage unit. I am so sick of wearing the same outfits every week. Plus, my clothes are looking a little ratty. I’m going to be a little higher maintenance and look like a girly-girl for a few weeks.
I am looking forward to drinking a great IPA (or 2 or 3) and eating a properly baked brownie that does not snap when you break it in half. Yes, I know I just said I want to eat healthy, so this will be done in moderation of course.