As my final days in Australia approached, I was still in complete denial that I was leaving. I felt like this was my new home for forever and that I was solely going back to America for the holidays then I would be back. As I stood on my balcony with ten of my friends at 4 a.m. in the morning looking at the ocean for our last hour, it hit me. I had to leave everything that had become so familiar. I had to leave my new best friends. I had to leave such a beautiful country without knowing when I would be able to come back. My heart in that moment at 4 a.m. shattered and tears strolled down my face.
Once I accepted the fact I had to leave, the nerves started to creep in. As excited as I was to see my friends and family, I knew I had changed and didn’t know how much. Also from talking to people back home, it seemed like a lot of things had changed there as well.
Reincorporating back into life at home was starting to sound scary. I did not know whether I would pick up right where I left off with everyone or if I would feel isolated and left out. I have been home a week now and the reincorporation phase is still something I am trying to successfully do. Leaving Australia was harder for me than I thought it would be, so my first week home has been a bit rough. Everyone keeps asking me how excited I am to be home and of course they ask the most difficult question, “what was your favorite part about abroad?” For anyone who has gone abroad, you know that question is almost impossible to answer, and for how excited I am to be back, not as much as they probably hoped I would be. Talking about it when others want to can be quite emotional because it makes me realize it was just a phase of my life and not actually my new home.
In my letter that I shared with my parents, I talked a lot about what abroad has taught me. How I am now more independent, confident and a go-getter. This way when I behave differently, they will know why. For example, I left my house the other day to go grab myself a salad and I look down at my phone to three missed calls from my mom asking where I am and why I didn’t tell her where I was going. The reincorporation phase will definitely be a process for not only me, but my parents as well. I also talked about how I feel about being home, and I was very honest. I have my days where I am quiet and upset, solely because the past four months for me are over and it can be hard to accept. But then other times it is the greatest feeling in the world to be here. My parents responded in such an understanding way and have made it their goal to make sure I continue to travel as much as possible.
When discussing returning home, Slimbach says, “Efforts to reconcile the mundane culture of home with mountaintop experiences in distant lands can prove physically and emotionally exhausting. It can also be painfully frustrating.” (207) I have found this to be very accurate in my return home. Life already seems so boring here and sometimes I feel as if I will never have the joy and excitement I did abroad. To avoid this, I plan to keep myself as busy as possible and doing activities I have never done here before, even if they are such simple things. I believe I just need to avoid the boring routine I had before abroad and start looking into everything my home has to offer me.
Going abroad has caused me to lose my lazy habits. Living on your own forces you to clean, do the dishes, cook and pick up after yourself. I now do all of these things and I can tell my mom is quite pleased by it. These new habits I picked up were definitely positive ones to bring home.
“I have two homes, like someone who leaves their hometown and/or parents and then establishes a life elsewhere. They might say that they’re going home when they return to see old friends or parents, but then they go home as well when they go to where they live now. Sarajevo is home, Chicago is home.” – Aleksandar Homer
I chose this quote because it describes exactly how I feel and I think explains why I am having a harder time reincorporating than I expected. I now have two different homes and am so happy when I am in both. The idea of not being back in Australia for years is the reason I am as upset as I am. I never want my friends and family to think I am not happy here, because I am more than they know. Reincorporating takes time and I am sure in a few weeks I will be adjusted.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning (Stylus Publishing, LLC., 2010).