There were few things I looked forward to about coming home, to be honest. I am so in love with Barcelona that in leaving, instead of looking at the positives of coming home, I focused on the negatives of having to leave this beautiful place that had become home to me. Now that I have spent a week back in the place I grew up, there are many challenges I am facing here that are a bit unexpected. One of the ones that I find most prevalent, is that I have a very difficult time explaining my experience when people ask, “how was abroad?”. People seem to constantly ask me this very vague question and I find myself wondering, “How do I explain the most incredible, life-changing experience you have ever had?” So, usually I just end up saying that it was, “amazing”. Also, a challenge that I am also facing is that while abroad, I felt I gained so much confidence and independence that I am not getting to use as much at home. Living at home with my family, I feel like a lot of that independence is taken away again, and I don’t want to ever forget how independent I can be and go back to my previous ways.
Yesterday, I shared my reincorporation letter with my parents, all of us sitting around our kitchen table. Prior to sharing my letter, I was nervous just as I had felt prior to sharing my separation letter because I did not want my parents to think that our family home had grown any less important to me just because I had found another home in Barcelona as well. While sharing my letter, my parents were supportive the entire time. They reacted in a very pleasant manner. They were extremely supportive and proud of me and told me that my growth meant that they were doing a successful job as parents. They were so happy that I felt like I was finding my place in the world and they were happy for me to have homes all over the world, not just here in Mansfield, so that I can feel comfortable and happy in more than one place. They told me that they never want me to lose my confidence and independence because these are two such important traits that everyone needs to succeed in life. My parents reactions really made me feel like I could reincorporate back into my old community, even though I feel like I have grown and developed so much because I know I have them, and so many other people who are supporting me. The quote that I used to convey the opportunities a healthy reincorporation will allow me during this experience is from Becoming World Wise, “The feeling of simultaneously being ‘in two minds’ often highlights an under-appreciated truth: that ‘home’ isn’t just a physical space we inhabit but a lifestyle we construct” (Slimbach, pg. 208). This quote shows that a person can create a home anywhere, as long as we are able to live our lives with the values that make a place home to us. Being able to reincorporate successfully means that I need to be able to live my life with the values that have always made a place home to me, but also with the new values that I learned when studying abroad, that now also make a place home to me, and shape a place into a somewhere that I can call home.
There are so many ways I plan to carry my study abroad experience forward so that I do not lose what I have gained. The most important one is that I want to continue to strive towards goals that I set for myself while abroad. I decided that I wanted to use my future career as a physician assistant, to work abroad and help people in less privileged areas. This is a goal I will never lose sight of and will continue to work toward in order to be able to feel accomplished in my life. A quote that I found that truly represents my feelings at this time is one by Miriam Adeney, “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” This quote shows how grateful I am to have been lucky enough to create a home with so many beautiful friends and people I love in a place so far away. I feel so blessed to be able to have the richness that Adeney talks about because my life does feel more complete and meaningful because of the fact that I am able to call more than one place home and to love more than on place.