In honor of Argentina’s Independence Day, I’m finally taking the time to look back on the experience a little and figure out how coming home has really felt.
Having had some international experience before where I had to deal with reverse culture shock (a month in El Salvador), I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect coming back to the states. I figured I would cry for a week straight and then remember my times in Argentina on a daily basis for the rest of my life. So far, the second part has proven accurate, but there was a surprising lack of tears. Sure, everyone teared up at the airport saying goodbye to Alexa (even if just for 2 months!) and José, but since then there has been a distinct lack. I also thought that I would have some severe readjustments to make – also not true. So far, the only thing I’ve really noticed is that in the O’hare airport I could wear my backpack on my back, and didn’t really need to be as paranoid as I was about that position (remember to wear your backpacks in the front if you’re taking the subte in BA!). The first few days in the states seemed so natural, it almost made my entire 5 month experience in Buenos Aires seem like a dream, like something that didn’t actually happen. I think that I’ve slowly been accepting that it really did happen, but am still shocked at how normal everything at home seems. I’ll admit that I reached for my coat before heading to the gym the other day, but that small slip is fairly understandable, I’d say. I’m thinking that the longer I’m home, I’ll start to notice the differences and experience the whole reverse culture shock thing more, but hopefully it won’t ever get too bad!
The 5 months I spent in Argentina were clearly some of the best of my life, due in large part to the people with whom I got to share all of my experiences. As Abi mentioned, it really is true that only those people that have gone through the same thing will ever truly understand what we went through and how it affected us. I doubt even we will fully grasp all the ways in which it affected us until much later in life – though I’m sure we’ll try to enumerate those in a future post, once Alexa has returned as well!
So, even though I’m enjoying my time back here in the states (sunburn and all!), I miss Argentina all the time and want to wish it a happy birthday on its independence day!