I wanted to dedicate my final Puebla blog post to coming home. Being back in the US (specifically, my hometown in New Jersey) has been a bit challenging, but the transition has actually not been as difficult as I had anticipated. I think this is probably because I never truly left American culture while I was in Puebla. I spent most of my time surrounded by Americans, and half of my classes were in English. I even lived in an apartment (and shared a room) with other girls in the OU in Puebla program. Still, adjusting back to life in the United States has been a process. I’ve noticed myself maintaining certain habits I developed in Mexico, and even missing certain things about living there.
Of course, the most obvious difference between daily life in Mexico and in the US is language. I still sometimes say “gracias” when the waiter brings my food out or someone holds the door for me. I typically only have this problem while I’m in public. In Puebla, I always spoke Spanish when out and about, and reserved English for when I was home or with American friends. So now, when I’m talking to my family or friends back in the US, it feels totally natural to speak in English. But when I’m out at the grocery store or my favorite coffee shop, I have to remind myself of the language I should be speaking. However, being in a place where I can communicate fluently has given me back a certain level of confidence that I didn’t even realize I had lost while I was in Mexico. I feel much more secure knowing that I can easily understand and respond to just about anything that might be said to me. I used to take for granted that I could express myself in English pretty much effortlessly. After having this ability taken away from me for a few months, I certainly learned to appreciate it!
While I’m very grateful to finally be home, I do miss some things about Mexico. First of all, their fresh produce was so much better than anything I can find here! Around Puebla, there are carts selling fresh mango and fruit juice on just about every corner. We lived within walking distance of several farmers’ markets, where we could always go to pick up some very affordable fruits, veggies, eggs, or tortillas. And of course, I’m ruined for American Mexican food. Chipotle simply can’t compare to the real thing. Also, I loved Mexican currency! It’s actually really pretty—all of their bills are brightly-colored and feature intricate designs and pictures. I’ll include a picture of my personal favorite: the 50-peso bill. In comparison, American money seems kind of bland. Finally, I miss the weather in Puebla and dreary New Jersey really doesn’t help. So far, it’s rained all day every day that I’ve been back. In Puebla, it gets up to about 80°F every day (never too high above that) and there’s usually plenty of sunshine. It’s very pleasantly dry; if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s humidity.
Overall, I’m relieved to be back home. Living in another country took a lot of effort, and was even a bit isolating at times. I can only imagine how much more taxing it would have been if I hadn’t been surrounded by fellow OU students. But I’m glad I had the experience—it gave me a new perspective on life that I know I’ll carry with me for a long time to come.