I moved to Spain a year and a half ago from California. At that time, I had taken a couple trips through Europe, but nothing permanent. I had left the United States enough to dull the culture shock of living without greasy spoon diners and IPAs, at least for a month or two. But when I arrived in Madrid with just a rolling suitcase and a backpack, it struck me: Going a couple of months without craft beer is one thing, but living in a foreign country is another thing entirely.
Now, a year and a half later, as I begin to pack my bags to return to California, I can’t believe how much I’ve learned. Not just about Spain, but about my own country, too. If you had asked me what it meant to be American before I moved to Spain, I would’ve have shrugged my shoulders. But living without Cadbury eggs, Cheez-its, and sub sandwiches was like a psychedelic mushroom trip, illuminating the depths of my American soul.
It’s not that one country was better than the other. They were just different.