Living in a new country will teach you to appreciate your own country in a way no 10-day vacation ever will. Vacations are great, but they don’t really give you an accurate taste of the country. In living in Spain, I have come to appreciate the things I have back home in a way I never have before.
I am now much more appreciative of those blissful ten-minute long showers I occasionally take in the USA. Here, water and light are both extremely expensive, and my showers average approximately two minutes of using actual water.
I also have come to appreciate the diversity that the United States has. During my whole time in Spain, I have seen a total of three people with dark skin, and approximately 30 blondes (of which 10 are from our Calvin group). While I never would consider Grand Rapids a breeding ground for diversity, practically anything is diverse compared to Spain. My blonde hair immediately reveals my foreignness, while in the United States almost anyone can pass as an American. I also miss the variety of ethnic food present in the USA; we have Asian markets, Pakistani restaurants, Indian buffets and so much more. Here, every restaurant is exclusively Spanish. The most exotic place I have found here is one sketchy little sushi place, and that's about it.
Besides diversity, I also have grown to appreciate the entrepreneurial and scrappy spirit that exists in the United States. I miss having conversations with my friends about our dreams and aspirations, and discussing what we’re doing now to reach them. Whenever I ask a student here what they intend to do after college, they simply shrug and say, “probably cry.” I miss living in the country where 'dreams come true.'