I’ve been home for a week now and the only word that I can use to describe the week is strange. While some things seemed to get right back to normal like being with friends and family, other things seems really different to me, it was almost like I was having a reverse culture shock. The first time I got in my car I had to keep reminding myself to drive on the right because I had become to accustomed to people driving on the left side. In terms of challenges, I think that my biggest challenge when I first got home was the time adjustment and the lifestyle adjustment. I had become to accustomed to walking everywhere that it has been weird to not be walking at all when I’m home. I wish that I lived in a city and could walk more, but living in the suburbs it would be useless for me to walk anywhere. I also miss being in walking distance of a gym, and library and many other amenities. This is one habit from being abroad that I’d like to integrate into my life more; walking. Once the weather gets better I hope to walk at least 2-3 miles everyday the way I easily was doing in Cork.
Sharing my reincorporation letter with my parents was a great experience. I talked to them about how I felt I had grown as an individual. I told them that they needed to understand that I’m a lot more independent now and that if it seems like I’ve distanced myself from them, it’s not personal, it’s simply that I feel I can solve more on my own now. I also think that since they came to visit me in Ireland, they have a good window into understanding what I miss when I talk about wanting to go back to Ireland already. While I definitely miss living there, I think that I have also been more appreciating of my home. I am not critical of either culture because they are so vastly different, but I think that I am able to see how different two cultures can live and respect that difference.
In his book, Slimbach writes that coming back home nothing changes much from the scenery to our family and friends network, instead what has changed is me. I think I can resonate with what he is saying. He sums up this idea nicely writing, “ The people and place identified with home may still be there, but what we bring to them- and them to us- had moved” (Slimbach 209). Being abroad I have certainly noticed that my relationships with people have changed for good or worse. When you aren’t there everyday at home to see people it changes your relationship and I think that this distance has been good in other regards for some of my relationships with friends. Either way, the feeling that I have changed as a person has been something that I think about often. While I don’t think that I had any real bad habits prior to leaving, I think that I have picked up some new good habits since coming home. I think I’m a more flexible and patient person now. Before I lacked patiences completely, but when you travel with people all over Europe this trait quickly grows upon you.
Going forward, I hope that I can continue to my experience abroad in Ireland by doing certain things to remind me of it. While its hard to give specifics, other than I hope to walk more and move slower in my day to day pace, I think that talking about it with friends and looking back on photos frequently will help me relive and remember the happy memories that I had during the last 4 months. My favorite quote about traveling is the following; “the world is a book, and those who do not travel only see one page- Saint Augustine.” I think that this quote is so true and since coming home I’ve already been trying to get my friends to travel more and relate with me in my love for travel and cross-cultural exchange.