Travel Log 15: “There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation” by Ariel Olivieri. Hull, Massachusetts.

Prior to returning to the United States I talked to a few of my friends who hadn’t gone abroad and told them that I may be a little bit different from how they remember me. I told them that New Zealand had changed me in the best ways possible and that I couldn’t wait to share my new self with them. My mom studied abroad when she was younger so she understood what I meant when I said that I felt different and that I felt like I had changed. So she has been extremely supportive with my transition thus far. However, a few of my friends don’t understand and give me weird looks when I say things such as “sweet as”. Also, the laws in New Zealand are different and I am used to the laws there, so to learn new rules all over again has been a bit of a hassle. One major difference is that I felt safe 24/7 in Dunedin. Walking the streets and sitting in public were things I constantly did without the fear of being pick-pocketed or harassed. I am currently sitting in South Station in Boston and I have been on high alert since I sat down. The last adjustment that has been hard for me is that the cars now drive on the right side of the road. I owned a car in New Zealand and I adjusted to those roads quickly. I’m hoping the same will happen here.
When I returned home I had the letter already written and prepared and so I immediately shared the letter with my family and friends over dinner. Each of them were extremely supportive and understanding and have allowed me to begin my transition and reincorporation smoothly thus far. My best friend was in Morocco and I haven’t seen her for 162 days. She also recently moved to Vermont, so although I have only been home for four days I bought a bus ticket and am on my way to Vermont for the week. Although my parents didn’t want me to leave so soon they understand that in order to successfully complete this stage of reincorporation I need to see the people who I miss the most. The quote that I found most helpful in my letter was, “As we know from the study of history, no new system can impose itself upon a previous one without incorporating many of the elements to be found in the latter…” by Margaret Atwood. This quote truly exemplifies how when I was in New Zealand I matured and was molded by my new environment, and now that I have returned home, I am a little bit different, and to successfully adjust back into my environment, I must incorporate what I have learned into my daily life. Most of my friends and family have been very supportive and excited for me since I have been home and it has meant the world to me. They have been making this transition much easier for me.
I will carry my experience forward with me through maintaining an environmentally friendly lifestyle and taking the time to listen and truly care about what each individual has to say. In New Zealand I would always turn off any light that was unnecessary, I would turn off the outlets if they were not being used, I recycled, and I walked as much as I could. Although it is not always possible to turn the outlets off in the US, I have been very good about unplugging things, turning the lights off, and recycling every chance that I get. I also no longer have a car in the US so I have been walking almost every where since I have been home. Also, while I was abroad I had been working really hard on my listening skills and so far it has really paid off. I’m hoping that I can maintain this aspect of my new self because I feel that it will be extremely important in my future.
One aspect of myself that I have been working hard to change is that I am lazy. In New Zealand I masked this trait and by the end I wasn’t lazy at all. However, now that I have returned so has my laziness. I have been keeping myself on a strict schedule so that the laziness does not return, and so far so good, but I know that this trait is still lingering and it is going to take time to finally get rid of it.
A quote that represents my thoughts, feelings, and actions at this time is, “You can decorate absence however you want, but you’re still gonna feel what’s missing,” by Siobhan Vivian. When I left New Zealand I wasn’t just leaving a country, I was leaving a home. I had a family comprised of the most wonderful individuals that I have ever met in my entire life. Some of them from Quinnipiac, some of them from other states, some of them from other countries, and some of them from New Zealand. My kiwi host became my best friend and he was the hardest person to say goodbye to. We will still keep in touch and I have the hope that one day I will be able to see him again. When I got home I ignored everything that I had just left behind and focused solely on seeing my friends and family that I missed. I went out with my friends the day I got home and have been keeping myself as busy as possible to try and cover up the fact that I just left New Zealand. I have been acting as if everything is fine, however I can’t get myself to unpack. I am decorating the absence of this country with activities and friends, but I still feel that it is gone.


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