I've been going to the same pub since I arrived in Madrid. I like the people that come in and out; I like how the lighting borders on darkness; I like how they let me sit in my corner, with my Guinness, writing stories on their napkins. I've made friends here and the family I live with couldn't be more warm and gracious, but these are the times I know I'm going to remember most: alone, in my pub, in my city, is where I feel the most alive. It is here where I feel happy; it is here where I feel confused and homesick; it is here where I feel focused and ambitious. What a city. What a time in one's life to kick complacency in the head.


I worry about how I'm going to feel when I get home. Will my friends and family understand what I have just gone through? I worry that I won't be able to relate. I worry that I'll once again get caught up in the American machine and the oversized American stuff. I want to go back—of course I want to go back—but I just don't want to go back to the place I left. I don't know if that makes any sense. I want to stay changed; I need to make sure the things I'm feeling now are the same things I feel when I get back. Is there anyone out there who has finished their time abroad? How was the transition back for you?

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Tags: Madrid, Spain


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Comment by Gregory Esparza on August 6, 2018 at 3:08am

I'm just reading this post having left Madrid just over one week ago. I got to travel to many cities and towns during our Three Cultures in Spain, a history course. One thing I noted was the various small, what appeared to be family or private owned shops and businesses. Compared to the Super-size everything we have in the United States, it was the small shops in Spain that gave each city, block, and around every turn a unique experience and place to see. On the same token I wondered, why on earth is Starbucks here in Spain lol... But anyhow, the small shops reminded me of what small towns in the U.S. might have looked like prior to chain stores making all U.S. cities look the same these days. I hope that spirit and spark you felt in Madrid is still with you in 2018. All the best GE

Comment by J.H. Barnes on February 24, 2011 at 6:55pm

Thank you for the comments! 

@Eric - you are right on about drinking Guinness in Madrid. All that frothy consumption did motivate me to try the same in Dublin—one of the best excursions I've had. I even went to the top of the Guinness Tower/Factory which had the best view in Ireland.


@Nadine - Thank you! Everyday I wake up grateful for my time abroad. Life after this will never be the same (at least I hope so!).

Comment by Eric Schroeder on February 18, 2011 at 1:55pm
Drinking Guinness in Madrid? Isn't that a bit odd?
Comment by Nadine Custis on February 18, 2011 at 9:52am
That makes perfect sense.  The return isn't necessarily easy, but what you bring back with you makes it worth it!  And the best part is, although you may not know it yet, YOU will be changed.  You will have a more refined sense of understanding and respect for individuals from around the world and as a result will be fostering a stronger global community.


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