Study Abroad Lesson 4: Where DO I Fit?

Square Peg Kids guest contributor, Hannah, is a 17 year old High School student from Central Oregon. When she was nine, she told her mother she was going to live in Spain. Eight years later she’s finally there in Andalucia, and finding out it’s a little bit different than what she’d imagined in her nine-year-old head. Apparently, she’s growing up, and it’s taking place in Southern Spain.

Read Hannah‘s articles about “fitting in” to a completely different culture.

Study Abroad Lesson 4 of 4: Where DO I Fit?

A little over a month ago, I stepped off the plane from Madrid and embarked on returning to my life here in America. I was warned by Rotary, my sponsor, that coming home would likely be one of the hardest parts of my exchange, but I had no idea just how hard it would be.

Between trying to sum up the last year of my life to everyone around me (including myself!), making up for lost time with friends and family, and getting back into the swing of being busy all the time, I am overwhelmed with being an American resident again.

Along with warning me about the difficulty of my homecoming, Rotary also advised me to come up with a one-liner to use when asked to describe my year abroad.  My one line:

“It may not have been a wonderful year, but it was certainly a wonderful experience.”


That has not proven to be sufficient, as it then prompts the listener to ask “why wasn’t it a good year?” The answer to that question is much longer than it ought to be. I haven’t yet made peace about this last year with myself, so I’m sure not prepared to talk about it with others.

Groundhog Day

One of the hardest things I’ve been dealing with internally since my return is having this conversation with people, regardless of how close we are. When I was first discussing the idea of going on exchange with my mom, her concern was that I would miss out on a year of growing up with my siblings.

Bodies in Motion…Bodies at Rest…

In Spain I spent more time not doing anything than I’d ever done in my entire life. I come from a very active family, and in turn I am normally very busy myself. “Spanish Hannah” sat on the computer for hours at a time, keeping herself occupied while all her friends studied or slept. Now that I’m home, I’m busier than ever. Kicking the habit of laziness out of me is rough and stressful and coming along slowly. I can only hope I’m good to go by the time school comes around!

Being back home has been a breath of fresh air. I know how everything here works, and I don’t have to work hard at the littlest things like I did in Spain. But it’s been a lot harder than I’d expected. I knew it was going to be hard fitting in abroad, but I never realized how hard it was going to be to fit in back where I started.