Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

The Return – My Last Post

Time July 24th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Argentina | No Comments by

Everyone warns you about the perils of reverse culture shock. The readjustment period will take you by surprise and spin you round. you’re changed so much, but everything at home remains the same. But, in truth, going from NYC to the Midwest every summer isn’t very different.

I’m not discounting that there are things that threw me for a loop. Not translating everything to Spanish is one. Also I don’t have to be as aware of my iPhone al the time. (I’m counting it as a success that I never lost mine.) Not being able to take the sube or grab a colectivo is another. The lack of conversations between strangers is something I didn’t think I would miss. But I’m used to going through changes with every return.

I knew I needed to go home. I missed my family and friends. I had lots of projects I needed to catch up on and events to attend. I wanted to be in my home, in nature again.

But I already miss it. I miss the movement of the city, the pleasure of wandering the streets of Palermo. I miss engaging with people. I miss the interior of Argentina with all the different environments. I didn’t get to travel as much as I wanted and there’s still so much to see.

I’m not sure when I’ll get to travel abroad again and not sure I’ll return to Argentina for awhile. It seems a waste of my travel capital to go back so soon. I know I want to use my Spanish again for my next trip. I’ll be back to see more of South & Latin America.

In the mean time I’ll get used to the US. Enjoy the comfort of the lakes, go hiking. But I’ll always be thinking about how the rest of the world is so different from the US.

— Lily


Adjusting to Home

Time September 15th, 2015 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Well, I’ve been back in Seattle for about two months. My summer was crazy busy, and now I’m back at Saint Martin’s. Being home and adjusting back to home has been weird, and at times it’s been uncomfortable.

The hardest part of adjusting back into my group of friends and my family was that, at times, it felt like everything had changed without me there. Other times, though, it felt like I had grown and changed SO MUCH and everyone else had stayed exactly the same. Also, no one really wanted to hear about my whole five months in Argentina, which was hard because I wanted to tell everyone about every little thing that had happened.

Over the summer, I stayed really busy. I spent a couple weeks with my friends, went to a family reunion, performed in a musical, and then spent time with family from out of town. Now, I’m back in school, and it’s different. My classes are more difficult, although it’s kind of weird to have all of my classes be in English, and I feel like I have less time to get out and explore my surroundings. I guess I don’t need to, but it’s weird how I feel like I know Recoleta and Palermo better than I do the town I’ve lived in for the majority of four years.

The other hard part is remembering that a semester passed here without me; the memories of SMU that seem so recent to me are almost a year old. Especially odd are the “recent” memories I have with one of my best friends – he studied abroad the semester before I did, so we barely saw each other for the entirety of the last school year. It kind of feels like I existed for five months in an alternate universe.

I think maybe this post makes it sound like I hate being home or like adjusting back to the US was the hardest thing I’ve ever done – I dont, and it’s not. Some days are harder than others, and you keep the experiences you’ve had close to your heart, and falling back into step with your friends does have it’s tough moments. However, getting to cuddle up with my dog pretty much makes every hard moment worth it. I loved my time in BA, I wouldn’t trade it for the world, and I think I’d like to go back there someday, but at least until I graduate, I’ll be staying in Seattle.


Coming Home

Time December 2nd, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Dec 1, 2014

It’s been exactly five months since I embarked on this crazy journey commonly referred to as study abroad. It’s been a little more than a week since I’ve been home and in that time I have managed to unsuccessfully unpack my suitcase (on the contrary, I think the stuff in and around my suitcase has actually multiplied), while simultaneously managing to successfully work my way through a good deal of delicious Thanksgiving leftovers.

Simply put, I am happy to be home. Of course, there are things I miss about Costa Rica, but by the end of my whole adventure I was more than ready to come back home. Four and a half months of growing pains gets to be a little… well, painful. No, no, painful isn’t the right word, maybe overwhelming? Not right either.

Okay, analogy time: It’s like that feeling when you stretch in a way that hurts, like really hurts. But it’s a good hurt. It’s the kind of hurt that extends deep into your muscles and all the stored-up tension you didn’t realize was there. It’s the kind of hurt that lets you know you’re doing something that is ultimately good for your body, something that your body needs. And so you gather up some courage and steel yourself. You push through the smoldering pain, trying your hardest to take your mind away from the pain and instead find peace in that moment. You manage to succeed to some degree and the pain becomes background static to your inner harmony. But even then it’s audible, and somewhere deep inside you can’t help but think ‘When will this be over??’ And when you finally come out of the stretch it’s like a huge wave of water crashing down on the shore; it’s a complete and total release. From the tips of your toes to the roots of your hair, you’ve let go. No more tension, no more effort. You can fully and completely relax. A smile of relief begins to creep onto your face. You’re proud because you made it, you’re happy because your body feels good, and you’re at peace because you’re done. No more effort, you’re home.

Alright, great analogy Hilda, but what’s a concrete description of your experience? I can’t say. I can’t say that I’ve really experienced any reverse culture shock, but if there is anything I’ve realized since coming back it’s that I have no idea how to describe my experience. Either that, or I just don’t want to. When people ask about it, I can tell that what I say isn’t enough for them, or that my answer is unsatisfyingly generic or cliché. But I’m at a true loss for words that might somehow explain what my experience was like. And so, that’s my culture shock. I had four and a half months of incredible experiences and I can’t share them. I just don’t know how. But I think with time I’ll learn how. I think I’m still in the process of letting go; the wave is still crashing down on the shore, and until it’s done there’s just no way I’ll be able to see through to the depths of my experiences and make sense of them.


So, until then, I’ll just wait. Thankfully, school doesn’t start for another month so I’ve got time. I’ve got time to wait and process. And meanwhile I can enjoy my family, friends, and home that I so sorely missed!

Signing off for good.





Helloooo EE.UU.

Time July 30th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Sunday, July 8–No puedo creer

7.01 am

I’m not ready.  Not ready to be here.  Not ready to not wake up in the city.  Not ready to hear English.  Not ready.

I cried on the plane watching the lights of Buenos Aires disappear behind me.  Not bawling, just a few tears.  But now that I have arrived in Atlanta 10 hours later, it feels like the last 5 months might have just been a dream.  20 weeks of ups and downs.  I don’t like how cheesy it sounds, but studying abroad has really changed me.  The things I used to focus on don’t seem as important anymore.  I’m not saying I’m not still excited to go shopping when I get home, but I’m more focused on financing my trip/potentially moving back to BsAs than buying a new pair of wedges.

It didn’t really hit me as real until I was waiting in line to board the plane behind a giant group of teenage Americans. (and it still hasn’t really kicked in that going back isn’t definite…yet) But they were probably around 15-16 years old and it seemed like there were 100 of them. all talking, mostly complaining, in English and just being the epitome of obnoxious Americans.  The idea of going back to that made me sick to my stomach.  I wanted to tell them to calm down and quit complaining, but I didn’t want to talk to them in English and give it away that I’m American too.  So instead I walked around their giant group and let two Argentines in front of me as the line finally started moving.

But thank god when the girl who ended up sitting next to me responded to me in Spanish after I asked her “de donde sos?”  funny thing was, she’s from New Jersey, but is living in Buenos Aires now.  She said she was relieved when I spoke to her in Spanish bc she was afraid I was with the group of kids.  She was probably the best plane friend I could have asked for, because, for one, she wasn’t an obnoxious American, and also she had been through the same thing as me a couple of years earlier after she studied abroad in the city.  Instead of giving me a weird look as I began to tear up, she gave me tissues.  After having met so many (not obnoxious) Americans like her in Buenos Aires, it makes my dream of moving back seem more tangible.  We exchanged information and I told her she might be getting a facebook message soon from me freaking out with reverse culture shock.

Sitting in the Atlanta airport, I’m already overwhelmed hearing English everywhere.  It’s not as easy to zone out on as Spanish, so it’s kind of giving me a headache.  Good I’ve still got some of the good Argentina ibuprofen (I think it’s prescription strength).  I just called my mom and left her a message in Spanish bc I don’t wanna do it yet.  I don’t want to speak English and be one of them.  I was fine speaking English with my plane friend because we knew Spanish was an option.  For some reason, that was more comforting.  But now, it’s kind of scary because it means I’m here to stay.  And I don’t want that right now.

I’ve been excited to come back to the warm summer on the lake since the cold started in BsAs, but now that the time’s finally arrived, the cold is looking that much better.  But I can’t lie that I am still really excited to see my friends and family.  and to eat a giant salad. with jalapeños.  and to not have to spend money every day.

I don’t know what to think right now.  It’s all just weird.  just got to go day by day, I guess?


Moving Forward But Not Leaving Chile Behind

Time January 18th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

(Part 2 of my post-study-abroad entry.)

2. Things Aren’t So Bad Here After All.

Yes, I did (and still do) have a pretty bad case of reverse culture shock. But I’m getting over it. Really, I am.

Strategy number 1: Let your friends drag you to your old usual haunts. This is what I did all winter break–the month in San Francisco between my return from Chile and my return to Barnard. I saw my friends (and sister) almost every day and we went to classically San Franciscan places like the beach (did I mention yet that global warming has led to a beautiful December and January for us this winter?) and the top of the hill with the best view of the entire city. We ate good Mexican taqueria food, which I really missed while abroad and always miss when I’m in New York, and we drank bubble tea, and we did everything we used to do. The only difference this time around was the earful my friends got about Chile. I’m sure that if they have to hear “In Chile…” one more time they are going to cry.

Strategy number 2: Talk about your experiences, whether people want to hear about it or not. It is best if your listener actually wants to be listening to you babble on about how amazing Chilean folklore music is, but it’s OK if they don’t care. Not everyone will, but you still must share your stories. And what I still have yet to do is go to the one place where I am guaranteed that my study abroad stories will be considered fascinating and important on my campus: the study abroad office. It’s definitely on the agenda.

Strategy number 3: Speak in Spanish. There are more Spanish speakers in the Bay Area and the New York City area than I could meet even if I spent every second of my days meeting new Spanish speakers. There is no excuse. There is no excuse. I can maintain my Spanish fluency, so now I must.

IFSA-Butler has given many other great suggestions for making a successful transition back to U.S. life and I plan to give the ideas a try. Volunteering, for example. I think I’ll also pursue that Spanish minor now and look for ways that I can return to, if not Chile specifically, at least to Latin America.

So, here’s to moving forward but keeping Chile with me as I go. Thank you for reading about my experiences. Que les vaya muy bien.



Stuck in Reverse?

Time January 18th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

I’m back in the USA and have been for a little over a month. Does that mean I’ve readjusted to life here? Yes, but not completely. I’ve been stumbling through my transition back to both my home in San Francisco and my U.S. college in New York City. Here is part 1 of the story.

1. Reverse Culture Shock is Real.

There have been many, many moments since I left Chile in which I didn’t really leave Chile. Not emotionally, at least. These are some of the most note-worthy moments.

Reverse-culture shock moment number 1: For a good couple of weeks I kept saying “permiso” in crowded areas in place of “excuse me.” Woops. The funny thing is, though, that I probably could have said “hippopotamus” and the slightly insane people of San Francisco would have understood me anyway and proceeded to move out of my path and say “you’re welcome.”

Reverse culture shock moment number 2: Is that what you readers thought whenever I used the word “gringa” in my earlier posts? You assumed I was trying to crack a joke? Weird! Because now whenever I talk about the gringa experience in Chile with my friends here in the United States, I get laughs and giggles. It’s the weirdest thing. In Chile, the words “gringo” and “gringa” are neutral. It’s like saying “U.S. citizen” or “person of European descent.” There is nothing especially funny about the word gringo in Chile, unless you’re actually making a joke about gringos in Chile. Hence, I’ve been using the word just as casually here, too, because I’m having a hard time remembering that “gringo” sounds funny to U.S. citizens. Even though that’s what we are. Gringo. Gringa. Gringo. Gringa. Why are you chuckling? Why? WHY!?

Reverse culture shock moment number 3: What? You mean I have to wait TWENTY MINUTES for this bus? That’s ridiculous! The Errazurriz bus in Valparaiso runs every twenty seconds!

Reverse culture shock moment number 4: I forgot that I used to wear two pairs of socks on cold days in New York. A friend had to remind me that that is something people do. Not even the central-heating-deprived chilly coastal winter of Vina del Mar and Valparaiso compares to this cold. How did I already survive two New York winters before?

Reverse culture shock moment number 5: My Spanish-speaking friends in the U.S. either don’t understand or don’t like my Chilean dialect. The awesomeness of the meaningless word “po” is lost on them.

Reverse culture shock moment number 6: I insecurely double-track through the New York neighborhood I used to know by heart. When one friend asks me “Do you want to stop at Westside?” I cannot help but reply, “What is Westside?” Westside is not just an Upper West Side grocery store; it is an Upper West Side landmark. When you have forgotten all your college landmarks you are doomed.

Keep reading on to part 2.