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Rotary Traveler readjusts to life back in America

Rachel Matheson
Rotary Traveler
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Submitted Photo Cora Lubchenco The second night I spend in Colorado my friends drove down from Glenwood and met me in Boulder to see a Red Rocks concert. It was the perfect homecoming. From left, Jenna Pearce, Erica Arensman, Me, Rachel Rosenberg, and Diana Banks.
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Looking back, it seems like a dream. I feel as though that was a different time, in a different world. Yet every face, street and smell remains so fresh in my mind. That city had become my home, and I will never forget the year I lived as a Spaniard.

On the plane ride home from Spain I didn’t know what to expect. I was nervous at the thought of returning to the U.S. I remembered Glenwood clearly, but I also knew I had learned an immeasurable amount and grew as a person. I had been told countless times that Glenwood would still be the same after my year abroad, but part of me believed that something would have to change. Upon my arrival I was proven wrong when I saw my friends, house, family and town were exactly as I left them.

My family and friends were as happy to have me home as was I to be home in Colorado. Yet throughout the first week I felt distant. My family could not stop touching me in disbelief that I was really there with them. Every time I came up the stairs or into a new room they would have to look twice wondering if they really saw me in the same house as them.



As many of you may have experienced, there is a certain feeling that overpowers you after a vacation or long trip. It’s that feeling of complete relaxation and sighing as if you say, “It’s good to be home.” It felt good returning to Glenwood, yet I didn’t have the sensation of being completely relaxed. I only sighed because I felt as though I was torn and didn’t have just one home.

As I started adjusting back to life in America I was surprised that the hardest change is that I no longer speak and hear Spanish constantly. Every time I pass someone on the street speaking English I feel as though I should know them because I knew all the local English speakers in San Sebastian. As it turns out, I don’t know all the English speakers in the valley. Several times I have approached the counter in a store thinking of what I wanted in Spanish only to remind myself I had to speak English to be understood. This is the opposite of my first few months in Spain when I was thinking in English. Occasionally I would say a common demand or question to my brother and stare at him waiting before I realized he could not understand the Spanish that had rolled off my tongue. It will take some getting used to, but I know life here will feel natural again soon.



As far as the next chapter in my life: My family moved to Boulder two weeks after my arrival so we drove over the mountains, and I will complete my senior year at Fairview High School. It was hard saying goodbye to my friends in Glenwood after missing them for a year, but at least this time I will just be a car ride away. I’m excited to get involved in my new city and make Boulder my new home. It seems like a lot of change all at once, but I’ve always had my family as my constant factor. I know that I’ll be sighing soon, knowing I’m truly home.

Rachel Matheson, 17, spent her junior year on a Rotary Youth Exchange trip to San Sebastian, Spain, sponsored by the Sunrise Rotary and Club Rotario. This is the final installment of her column, “Rotary Traveler.”


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