Relocated Reporting: Returning from abroad with broadened horizons

Relocating to Spain was a life-impacting event for Carlene Majorino. In the final edition of her column from abroad, she reflects on returning to the States with newfound awareness.

Oviedo, Spain – It seems as though my time in Spain is ending already.

Since the name of this column implies it should be about relocating, this week, I’m going to turn the tables a little and talk about the second relocation I’ll experience: going back to the good old USA — a re-relocation, if you will.

So, here are the top five things I look forward to returning to in a few weeks and how I plan to use my newfound Spanish culture to improve the quality of my life:

5. Traveling.
Traveling here was the first time I had so much responsibility to keep things in line – prices, times, dates, addresses and did I say prices? I also learned to shield any type of hardship by packing about six pounds of food every time, just in case.

So, maybe when I get back home I’ll consider traveling places farther than South Street. I feel as if I can handle it now. I now know I’ll never stay in a real hotel again – it’s just a waste of money. I prefer the finest of hostels, whether the room has a perpetual breeze flowing through its broken window or just a bidet where the toilet should be.

And when I do pack my things and head toward the subway on a Condom Kingdom adventure (or whatever it may be), I’ll know to buy plenty of lunchmeat and a few baguettes because you never know when the Phillies will win a World Series or a popular Democrat will win the presidency, causing the subway to shut down at City Hall.

4. Heating.
The majority of Spanish households doesn’t seem to believe in more than minimal heating, even on the most bitter of nights. When I get home, maybe I’ll invest in making sure my house always has heat.

Although lthough my bed here has two 20-pound fleece blankets, a sheet and a down comforter, somehow, I’m still forced to wear not only pajama pants and a hoodie to bed, but also long johns. I think it’ll feel nice to feel less like Ralphie from A Christmas Story while I sleep.

3. Eating.
In my first column, I explained why the Spanish have a healthier way of life, and I never thought it would be possible to continue that when I come home. But all it took was a little brainstorming, and I figured out that it’s totally possible.

Take a Jim’s cheesesteak, for instance, as my lunch. All I really have to do to mirror Spanish eating habits is to eat my cheesesteak, an entire baguette on the side and a piece of fruit for dessert instead of going across the street and having a slice of Lorenzo’s pizza (which I have done).

I have to do this at precisely 2 p.m. Then, I wait seven hours and make myself what Americans consider a classic breakfast – fried eggs, breakfast potatoes and meat, which happens to be a typical nighttime meal here – and have that for dinner.

Suddenly, I’m just as healthy as before. I should sell this diet to Weight Watchers.

2. Clothing.
In a way, I’m very relieved to be returning to super-modern America, where the only people with mullets are guys you can assume have purchased nothing but motorcycles since 1985. But at the same time, I’ll miss the distinctive style of Spain.

I’ll be the first to admit it. I may have let the style here affect me a little, but I think it was for the better. For instance, I did buy a pair of bondage parachute pants. They seem to be in style here.

They might really come in handy in the future, especially if I find myself forced to skydive into the Atlantic on my way home. I just hope I don’t forget to wear them that day.

1. Speaking.
After almost five months, I finally think I am at least proficient in Spanish. However, what I really pride myself on is being able to arrive home with a whole new vocabulary in English, simply based on what I have learned in my second language.

Instead of calling my friends “girl” or “man,” I will now call them “aunt” or “uncle,” because in Spanish, they use “tia” and “tio,” words that mean such. I think it’s catchier that way anyway.

Instead of just saying “everyone,” which is boring, I will use the term “all the world,” borrowed from the Spanish “todo el mundo.”

Clearly, I’ve learned what I came here to learn. I am officially ready for America now.

Carlene Majorino can be reached at

1 Comment

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