I’ve been having a difficult time writing a post this week because no matter how many times I looked at this blank document, all I could think about were negative things. And as the week comes to a close, and I have documented close to nothing, I realize that these feelings are part of studying abroad.
As much as I try to blend in, even in my program, being one of two black people is fairly polarizing. And although we are all from the same country, I can’t help but feel like the odd one out. I don’t have a problem being different at all, but I find comfort in diversity. Coming from Philadelphia public schools where I had first generation immigrant friends, people who had differences in political views, religion, and clothing they wore— non-diverse spaces make me uncomfortable.
I have officially begun to feel homesick. I miss the diversity that exists in Philadelphia. I miss seeing people who look like me and others who don’t. I miss being able to have extremely in-depth political and social conversations with my latinx friends, or my black friends, or my queer & trans friends. I miss riding my bike all around Philadelphia on the weekend. I miss my dog and my family so much. I have been craving Liberian food so much recently, and here, food isn’t spicy at all! My friends laugh because I carry hot sauce in my bag everywhere I go here! I miss vegetarian restaurants and Philly Flavors water ice. I miss being able to say “jawn” and having everyone understand what I mean. And oddly enough, I miss the gross smells on the street because all of that together feels like home.
When I need something, it’s hard because I don’t know intuitively where everything is. Since I came, I have been sick twice and lost both a wallet and a phone. I have never lost those things at home, but here, I just feel so disorganized! I have so much on my mind all the time. I have so many applications to fill out for the Spring 2017 when I return to Temple and applications for summer jobs while I’m not even in the same country. I wish I had known how stressful and busy studying abroad can be. Ultimately, I wish I knew how lonely it can feel when you are an other abroad, even amongst people from the same place as you.
Through the darkness of my past two weeks, I have found some light. I was able to befriend a girl from Sweden and we have been having conversations about feminism and black politics which was relieving. I was able to receive some piece of home by way of my friend, Lily and her girlfriend—Lauren, visiting Madrid.
I was able to sit in a park with my closest friend in my program, Anthony.
I also began a volunteer job at a Spanish school helping to teach English. The kids are 8-9 years old, incredibly adorable, and speak English so well already. I know that through this hard time I’m having, I always have my Spanish friends and their families who have been lovely to me.
I don’t know if Spain will begin to feel like home anytime soon, but I know that I’ve found pieces of home in small quantities. And for now, I can accept that.