It’s been about a week since my plane touched down in Boston and I’m still not entirely sure of how I’m supposed to be feeling. I’m beyond happy to be back in the United States with my friends and family but at the same time I’m already bored and want to head back to Europe. It’s a weird mix of emotions at the moment.
I’ve found that I’ve become more independent. I have been wanting to do more and more things by myself and also have the ability to do such things, such as plan a trip for this break. Being back home, I’ve definitely realized the differences in cultures between here and Spain. But the good thing is (which I anticipated otherwise) is that I’m not critical in an unhealthy way. I don’t compare the two and say one’s better than the other or have hatred towards the US now that I’ve experience living in Europe. Rather, I notice the differences in the people and the day-to-day life and see how I can apply my knowledge of both cultures to make me a better person and live a more enjoyable life. As Slimbach said, “the postsojourn process should help us to integrate the experiences and insights from the field into our ongoing academic and personal lives” (10). And I’m glad that the experiences and insights from the field will allow me to grow as an individual. Overall I haven’t found that I’ve gathered many unhealthy habits that need to be broken. Nor have I had any major challenges reintegrating with my home community. If there’s one thing I’ve learned while abroad, it’s how to adapt to change. That was something I was definitely lacking prior but I’ve certainly picked up on it, and almost encourage change at this point. So thankfully, my reintegration process has been pretty smooth.
Sharing my reincorporation letter with my family was an awesome experience. It was a way for me to let them know my progress and personal growth I underwent while abroad. It also made them aware to all of the various emotions and phases I’m experiencing right now as a result of coming home. As always, they were extremely understanding. Being in a family of all healthcare workers, they’re used to lots of change in their day-to-day routine. I think that’s made them more aware of how I feel; they understand the effect change has on an individual, although they may not know it to this extent, as they never studied abroad. They’ve acknowledged the fact that I’m more independent and “travel-savvy.” I also believe they’ve noticed that I’m a little bit of a different person than I was before. The quote I shared with them, which is also the quote that accurately represents my thoughts and feelings right now is by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It says: “it’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed is you.” I couldn’t agree more with this quote. Nothing has really changed in my town. A few new houses went up, a couple roads were repaved and a gas station was remodeled. That’s about it. Yet I’m still sitting here knowing that it’s just not the same as before I left in August. I’m beginning to realize that it is me that has changed. I find myself more respectful of the various cultures and people here. I find a new appreciation for those who struggle to speak English when trying to do even simple tasks. But I also find that I’m not nearly as amused with the day to day life here as opposed to back in Spain. But overall, I’m glad to be home and my family is glad to be home. They’re supportive of what I’m going through and are sure to do anything they can to ensure a smooth and healthy reincorporation for me.