At the end of my last semester at MIIS, I received an e-mail from Peter Grothe inviting me to a “Meeting for graduating international students,” in which he was going to tell us all about re-entry shock and how to deal with it, and give us a picture book of the Monterey Peninsula.
I, of course, only went because I wanted to get my picture book. I was sure that re-entry shock was something only inexperienced travelers had to worry about, and I wasn’t one of those! After all, I’ve been in and out of Spain several times, I’ve lived in different countries and various Spanish cities. I was going to be just fine.
Then we were busy with exams, we all graduated, celebrated, we said good-bye to those who left first, we shipped our stuff off to Spain (we had to do this early since it was going to take 3 months to get here), we said good-bye to some more people and to that amazing view of the Monterey Bay we had from our apartment, and we traveled for 30 hours and arrived to this island I hadn’t seen in 6 years.
Yes, the trip was long and exhausting. Yes, the week-long apartment hunt was a little stressful. But after just 7 days, we had moved into our spacious, bright new place. We loved how cheap eating out was, so much jamón ibérico for so little money! We were thrilled with the prospect of going to the beach once a week year round. We had jobs, we adopted a cute little cat, life was good!
Ah! But before we knew it, the honeymoon was over. Were supermarket cashiers really this rude and unfriendly 6 years ago? And ok, I knew the process of getting Dustin’s residency permit wasn’t going to be exactly fun, but I surely wasn’t expecting 6 months of excruciating bureaucratic procedures; one of them involved waking up at 5.30 am to stand in line to stand in line (yes, I know I said that twice, but that’s exactly what they had us do) until 11 am to get my ID renewed. And the noise! Did you know that Spain is the second noisiest country in the world? Can somebody please tell drivers here that a) it is illegal to honk their horns in urban areas and that b) being obnoxiously loud won’t make traffic move any faster, it will just make being stuck in it that much more annoying. And no, parking in front of your girlfriend’s building and honking the horn is not the right way to let her know you are there, get your lazy effing ass out of your SEAT and ring the bell!
So apparently, according to this student handbook, what I have just described are stages 1, 2, and 3 of re-entry shock: Disengagement, Initial Euphoria, and Irritability and Hostility . Peter Grothe was right. And now, after 7 months, I seem to have finally reached stage 4: Readjustment and Adaptation. Yay!