from the Chi to the SVQ

My life is dominated by Spanish culture: I have a Spanish partner and speak to him exclusively in Spanish, work in a Spanish school with Spanish children, and don’t know a soul in my surroundings who speaks my language and understands my customs. People joke that I’m heavily influenced by the sevillana way of life, and I once survived 20 months without stepping foot in America (or eating a Portillo’s hotdog).

Last night, I grabbed my bike and headed to the center last night to meet two of my fellow Chicago folk, Kelly and Siebs, for Mexican food. As I parked in Plaza San Francisco, listening to Coldplay’s “Beautiful World” and marveled at the light from the Giralda flooding the cobblestone. I snapped a picture on my phone, and upon putting it back in my bag, whirled around to see someone in a Packers jersey. I had to laugh to myself.

Kelly had just been shoe shopping, so we walked down Calle Sierpes towards the square where we’d meet Mickey. Plaza Salvador was half empty on the warm Autumn night, and as we chatted about her upcoming trip to Paris, I stopped dead in my tracks. A bespectacled study abroad student with an accent matching my mother’s was talking about the Cubs and Sox.

I may be far from Cheesehead territory and the Northside, but it takes very little to get me back to that same old place, Sweet Home Chicago.

What do you get homesick for while abroad? How do you deal with homesickness? Do you stick to expat enclaves in your city abroad?

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.


  1. I get homesick for the feeling of not missing anything – whether it be to context, language, history, whatever. It’s nice to feel like you get everything.

  2. Second to Kaley! I also get homesick for people to understand me and wear facepaint.

  3. I get homesick for family, friends, the ease of life in the States. Just the feeling of things “making sense.”

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