I have been writing a post about my trip to Alicante all week. Still not finished (don't worry, it's not a novel. Maybe a novella at best), but I figured I'd release it in snippets. Here is the first part to set the mood for the whole weekend.
I got back from Alicante on Sunday, and it was quite an experience. Emotional, confusing, fun...
Let’s start with the train ride. It’s a short ride from Valencia, since it is in the same province. It only took an hour and 45 mins. As I was arriving in the Alicante train station, the weirdest feeling swept over me. I have had it before.
It’s a bit hard to describe, but I’ll try my best: it’s a form of confusion of where you are in time and place. I know, it sounds pretty abstract. But when I came into the Alicante terminal, I was confused for a moment (or more) regarding where I was, what was home, where I am in my life, etc. It’s like I was traveling in time, and I was really there, and it all looks the same, so it washes over you for a minute that two years haven’t passed by and that I was still there, Spring 2010, studying abroad in Alicante, living with my host family, hanging out with my friends Carly and Sarah and Scott and Drew etc. It is really confusing and strange because you can’t remember where your “home base” is. Is this a vacation? Am I back “home”(as I would call it when I was abroad in 2010)?
I am familiar with this feeling because I have had it before when going to the states back in March 2009, when I went home for my Nana’s funeral. I was back in the states after only been gone for a couple months (the semester began early January). The feeling wasn’t as intense as other times I’ve had it, but it was the first time it ever happened. Was I done studying abroad? Was it summer already? Was I ever in Spain in the first place? Although I had the answers to all the questions, the whole place/time confusion messes with your perspective and you really aren’t sure about the answers anymore. It happened again when I went home (to the states) for Christmas just a few months ago.
And it happened again in Alicante this past weekend. My friend Sarah experienced the same sort of thing after returning to Iowa from being in Chile for almost six months. She felt like when she returned home, the whole Chile experience felt like a dream. Contrary to Sarah’s experience, I have never felt that way when I finished my semesters abroad. If you have never studied abroad, this is something they tell us in the orientation about returning home: it is a sort of reverse culture shock, resulting from the change you feel inside versus the relative non-change you see in your home in the states. It’s like time stood still for them, but it flew by for you.
But I never felt this time warp feeling when returning home. Yes, there is homesickness (of your non-home in Europe, strangely) and jet-lag, but I never was confused. I think it is from the closure you get at the end of the semester. You say goodbye to your host family, your teachers, your friends. You see your friends go away in their buses, you experience packing your bags with souvenirs, and you think the whole plane ride home about home and what you miss and what you cannot wait to see/do once you arrive. But when I made these short excursions to the states and Alicante for less than a week each, the “goodbyes” are more like “see you soons” to my host family, so you don’t get the closure that allows you to move on to the next setting.
Now that you know about the whole time warp feeling, you can imagine how strange it was for me during the entire weekend.
(more to come in a future post)