Travel Journal: Mexico
I’m sitting in Starbucks...Mhmm—Starbucks. Quite possibly the most American establishment outside of Walmart and McDonald's. Not that I’d put Starbucks in the ranks of the aforementioned, but still... Point being, as soon as I walk through the doors and smell the fresh aroma of a perfectly-pulled espresso and croissants, I’m back in the United States. And to be honest, it’s a wonderful experience.
I’m going to let you all in on a little secret. I talk to my mom and sister almost every Sunday, and when they ask what I miss most from home, my answer is obviously always “you guys, of course!” But, I’m going to lay it all out here and risk the “mom stare”: what do I really miss most about the States?...pumpkin spice lattes...from none other than Starbucks.
Of course I miss my family and friends (a lot), but these pumpkin-y, nutmeg-y cups of liquid happiness and joy have kept me company during chilly fall mornings since their invention in my high school days. And when I came to México, I assumed I’d just be skipping autumn this year because it stays so warm through the latter months of the year. But I was mistaken! Yesterday and today it has been a chilly 78 degrees, and the air has the slightest scent of my favorite season. (In fact, when I was waiting for the bus this morning, I saw several Meridians break out their wool sweaters for the “chilly” weather.)
Now I know what you must be thinking—this guy is a nut, right? I’m not denying it. But what I can say is that sometimes moving to a place that is so completely different from what you're accustomed to has its challenges. And while I’m sure Howard Shultz is reading this and searching the internet to find my number and make me the new regional director of Starbucks’ Coffee International, it’s nice to have a little taste of North American culture every now and then. Some people might think it embarrassing to be living in a foreign country and go to Starbucks on a semi-regular basis; some might think that I’m rejecting the culture I’m trying to study and holding onto the only “American” thing I can find. But they would be wrong.
I’ll be the first to say that when I am travelling, I try to immerse myself in as much of the native culture as possible. Visiting local cafes and restaurants, avoiding tourist traps and trying to look like a local all fit under this ambition. But sometimes, I get homesick. And it’s nice to sit in a familiar place with familiar products, music, and atmosphere, and remind yourself where you came from.
That being said, my friends and I know two baristas by name. In the friendly “third place” atmosphere, we always try to talk with the other local customers and not seclude ourselves in a corner, hiding from all that is foreign. And this way, we can do both—refresh our spirits with a taste of home and integrate into local life. It’s a good feeling.
So besides hoping that somehow, someone with power at Starbucks reads this and offers me a job after graduation, what’s the point of this journal entry? To remind ourselves that even when we are far from all that we know to be familiar and comforting, we can still find little gems to make us feel at home...and that’s okay. It’s fine to be homesick and miss silly material things like a cup of your favorite coffee. Because the experience you have studying abroad will forever change you for the better—making you a true citizen of the world and perhaps changing the way you think about the most familiar of things. And that's a great thing.
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