Happy new year! 2017 is finally here so cheers to a new beginning wherever you are mentally, physically or spiritually in life. After spending the holidays traveling it feels great to be back in my own space, eating my own food, and getting back into my routine in Spain. As much as I love exploring, there is nothing like waking up in my own bed and staying there all day listening to music and podcasts if I want. It’s the ultimate form of self-care. I promise you, I’m a homebody at heart.
I started thinking about social media and traveling a few months ago and even more during winter break. As I was waiting for a metro, I scrolled through my Instagram and realized that I post more photos when I’m abroad than when I’m back home in the U.S. Why? Well, I just told you I’m a homebody so my life in the U.S. isn’t nearly as interesting. But honestly, I enjoy taking photos, editing them and sharing them with the world. It’s a form of creative expression, I embrace it. However, I do think about how my 200+ photo album of my year in Spain is perceived by others. This is not because I’m going to nor want to stop posting photos anytime soon. I love it and it’s another way to keep my family updated since we can’t chat every day. Yet, between the food, wine and traveling, sometimes I think social media while studying or living abroad can depict a false reality of life.
Does this mean I will write paragraph-long statuses every time I get lost in a new country or frustrated with my language abilities? No. Am I going to update Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter about every high and low during the week? Most definitely not. That’s too much work and I despise those live notifications (so if we’re Facebook friends there is a 100% chance I turned yours off, no offence). But, I do want to remind people that not everything about someone’s life gets posted.
I’ve been annoyed with Spanish burreaucracy and my roommates. I’ve felt isolated from the Spanish culture at times. My every day routine is just as basic as anyone else’s and I struggle to control my irritation when the, “where are you really from?” question comes up; since the idea of black people in the U.S. is literally a foreign concept to some people I meet. Just because I don’t update social media about every challenge as frequently as my latest weekend trip, doesn’t mean they didn’t happen. Some days are better than others and that’s ok, but don’t be fooled. It’s a personal choice to upload the positive and save the negative for a single blog post like this.
While social media is great and all, at the end of the day it’s a highlight reel of a life. They’re just snapshots and anyone can create any persona with the right opportunity and a smartphone. It doesn’t make travelers “liars” per say, but generally speaking people love hearing the good side of things with some realness sprinkled in between. It’s about balance. So for me, the next time you see an Insta with a sarcastic caption, know that I probably conjugated a few verbs wrong that day, my students called me the other teaching assistant’s name and I confidently used por in a sentence when I should have used para (for non-Spanish speakers, both words mean “for“). However, if you really wanted to know the truth, you could skip the “like” and be old-fashioned by just asking me what’s up, right?
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