Et voila. I’m back home. After 2 flights, I landed safely back in Newark to find Mom at the airport waiting for me. The same day I saw nearly all of my American side of the family at dinner which was a nice way to end my homecoming. It was wonderful seeing my parents again and kind of funny to see Hermana after we traveled separately to get home. We forced our parents to split up and pick us up at two different airports since we also had similar landing times.

It is really strange to be back home. It’s a bit empty and dull, which I was expecting since I am also returning to “reality.” Indeed reverse culture shock is in full force. I’m still perplexed to see how huge the houses are every time I step outside. No more narrow little streets and little houses. Oh France! I’m going to miss the European way of life. I am so not looking forward to the rushing around Americans are used to.

I also saw my first American squirrel today, something I haven’t really seen in 9 months, aside from the two red ones I saw in France. I’m still waiting for the deer to make an appearance.

Yeah so Westchester feels very foreign and a little lonely (again which I was expecting). I feel like I’ve outgrown the suburban NY lifestyle. I absolutely love my hometown–I have very fond memories growing up here. But the town has changed a lot over the past decade and I’m not so sure I fit in here anymore. Or if I ever really did–private school separated my sister and me from the public school crowd for a very long time and when I finally did join it, I was only there for 2 years and didn’t exactly integrate myself. Don’t get me wrong, my hometown is a wonderful place to grow up. But as somebody told me recently “This is a tough place to live.” The society here has turned somewhat into that stereotypical WASPy image (well it’s been like this for awhile now) and I’m very tired of that crowd.

Being abroad made me realize there are more important things in life than the latest diet or having the biggest SUV. Family and friends are two of the most important things in life. Your career comes second. Nothing really else matters.

And what else did I learn while abroad in Europe? Well…

1. Do not wear yoga attire/clothes that resemble yoga attire (sweatpants) out in public unless you are on your way to the gym or jogging. Anywhere else looks tacky.

2. Eat lots of ham, cheese, and bread.

3. When something is not going your way, go on strike.

4. If it is still not going your way, keep going on strike.

5. Being on time is rude. Being 15 minutes late is perfectly acceptable. And in Spain, an hour is totally fine too.

6. Do all the shopping on Saturday, everything is closed on Sunday.

7. You can take all the damn time you want eating in restaurants and cafes, the waiter won’t give you the check unless you ask for it. Even once you get it, he won’t act antsy to have you pay it. Also you don’t need to tip. It’s included in the prices.

8. Also no math is needed for adding tax to anything–it’s already been added for you.

9. Personal space doesn’t really exist.

10. Hurray for PDA times 1000.

11. In order to get what you want from French bureaucracy, you usually lie (or omit details) to get what you want.

12. In Spain, it is acceptable for women to get whistled at. Take it as a compliment and enjoy it while it lasts because the day the men stop doing this is a very sad day.

13. No pasa nada!

14. The French and Spanish will party until the break of dawn while the Americans call it quits at 2 AM.

And well there’s more but that could take forever.

So while I don’t really feel at home in my town anymore, I still feel at home with my family and my friends and that’s all that really matters to me. As long as they’ve got my back, I’m good. Even when I’m miles away from both, I know they will always be there for me. I talked to one of my best friends on the phone today for the first time since I left and it was amazing how effortless the conversation was. I may have changed while abroad, but the relationships that matter the most haven’t. And that’s all that really counts for me.

So now that I’m back from my 9 month adventure, I hopefully will figure out what I want to do with my life this summer and hopefully will head back to Europe soon enough. In the meantime, I will endure Hannah Montana/Jonas Brothers/Twilight frenzy at camp and relearn all the favorite camp songs/hand games while chasing campers. I know, I’m such a pro.

So yeah I don’t really know how to end this blog seeing as how this is most likely my last entry for awhile. I’m not going to blog about camp here or anywhere on the internet because I have a feeling it might get me in trouble with the camp directors and the parents of the campers. Honestly while I am not looking forward to camp all that much, I do enjoy the job somewhat and I don’t want to lose it since I need the money. All you really need to know is that Hermana will be my boss on the camp bus this summer and is also working at the same camp.

If I go abroad again or travel somewhere, I will probably continue this blog or start a new one. I’ll keep you all posted. I’m definitely going to miss writing here, it did become something I looked forward to, other than becoming a procrastination tool.

And I want to thank everyone who kept up with this or who read this at some time or other. It’s totally fine if you didn’t read this blog religiously and just poked in once in awhile. Even if you only read a paragraph, knowing I even had any readers meant a lot to me. Thank you readers!!

And most of all, I want to thank los padres because without them, I wouldn’t have gone abroad in the first place. And Dickinson of course.

So yeah, thanks for reading and if I update again sometime in the future, hopefully my travels will be just as exciting!

Until next time,
Amelie

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