I expect to feel culture shock on my return to Union College. Since September, I’ve lived with no more than 40 othe rstudents, and I’ve lived without my friends back at home, a job or a car.
Living without a job isn’t fun.
Everyone thinks, “Oh hey! I don’t have to work for a year! I can do whatever I want, right?” No.
Basically, once your homework is done, you sit around trying to entertain yourself. I felt a certain type of purpose when I helped Dr. Robison keep his life together. Now, what is my purpose after homework?
And no, I don’t want to study Spanish every minute of the day. Also, don’t even get me started talking about the pay cut. At Union last year, I was used to living with a little extra money to spend. Without a job, I learned to survive on the bare minimum. It’s doable, but terrible at the same time.
I also really miss my car. I yearn for the times of jumping in my car for a Friday afternoon snack at Taco Bell—oh, sweet, sweet, Taco Bell!
I miss asking my friends, “Who wants to go to Holmes Lake for this nice day?” and then going with a couple of blankets and snacks. When the day is nice in Spain, do you know what I do? I open the sliding glass door of my room. Sure, I could walk 20 minutes into town or walk up the mountain, but it’s not the same. It’s like I’m a caged bird.
The school in Spain currently has 40 students within its ACA program. Out of those 40, four groups are divided by levels of Spanish. Group C has 11 students. Group B, my group, hosts nine.
For these past few months, I’ve only gone to classes with the same nine people. I enjoy smaller classes because they give me the opportunity to get to know my classmates better. Nevertheless, it will be a tad bit weird when I step into Union’s cafeteria and see dozens of students eating around each other.
Where will I sit? Who will I even know anymore? Since I chose to go abroad my senior year, most of the friends I made at Union for the past three years will have graduated. This morning I got to thinking, who am I really going to know at Union besides those freshman from 2014-2015?
Madison Wagnaar, a senior business major at Union, is graduating this May. Senior Sara Allman is traveling to New Guinea to be a student missionary. These two girls and I have known each other since freshman year in 2012. I can barely believe I will be on Union’s campus without them.
Although I will be surrounded with people I don’t recognize, I’m still excited to return to Union. I will be, as senior language arts major Kyle Berg says, “a senior with victory laps.”
Besides, I can always make new friends, right? And when I think about having a car again, I want to jump for joy. This year abroad has been a learning experience, but I’m ready to go back to Union next August.
“I wanna go back to Union again, the college in the West.”
Melissa Ratter is a senior english language arts education major studying abroad in Spain.