I anticipated that reincorporation might be a difficult transition for me. I had an incredible experience abroad and it was hard to leave behind all the places and people that I met. One thing that helped me get through this transition was the knowing that I am not leaving all of it behind. In a way I am bringing it all with me through my growth. The people I met have helped shape my views and experiences and the places I traveled helped develop a greater respect for culture and a better understanding of global citizenship. So every time I think about how difficult it was for me to leave, I hold some solace in knowing that it is not gone for good.
Since arriving home it feels as though life has continued on as normal, which for the most part, it has. Everyone here went on with their lives. So when I came home it was strange to hear my parents talking about all of these activities that were going on that I hadn’t heard about. It was strange to get together with my friends and hear the simple jokes that came from things that occurred during the time I was away. I would never trade my time abroad, but I understand the struggle that can exist when returning to a host culture.
There is a level of isolation that I was not anticipating. You have experienced so many incredible things, but returning home you find that you feel like an outsider. Your host culture became the norm. I became accustomed to the Swiss people and the Swiss way of life. I got used to a new group of friends and transitioned to a new school environment. Now that I return home I feel little like how I did in my first few days of arriving in Switzerland. You expect to feel like an outsider in when you arrive in your host country, but you never expect to feel like and outsider when you return home.
With each day that passes since I have returned home it gets easier and harder. Easier in the sense that I continue to acclimated to my surroundings and familiarize myself with my old lifestyle, but harder because I miss my host culture more and more. I guess I should not say that it has been easy to return to my old lifestyle because I feel that I have grown and changed since I have been abroad. When you return people often love to hear about the experiences and the adventures but don’t anticipate the personal changes. Even if they do anticipate them, they often do not consider the long-term implications. They may notice that you are not the same person as when you left but may not know how to respond to that.
This is one of the reasons that the video log is such an important aspect. The video log will allow me to share my story and my lessons in a clear and concise way. It will bring life to the growth that I have experienced and serve as a vehicle for explaining my adventure.
If I hadn’t learned about rites of passage I may not have thought much about the rituals of returning home, but now that I am aware it is clear how there is very little effort to transition back to the host culture. It is essential for us to be aware of the environment that we are returning so we are better able to handle the struggles that come with reincorporation. However, the absence of rituals in our society allows us to create our own and share the concept of rites of passage with our community.