It has officially been a week since I have returned from Florence and adjusting to life back home has been much different than I expected. Things I used to do without hesitation feel slightly weird now. From driving a car to just waking up in my childhood bedroom. Life did not freeze while I was gone. Everyone continued to live their lives and change, just like me. I was not expecting everyone to put their lives on hold because I was gone, but I also wasn’t prepared for things to change.
The past week home has been chaotic. I have been thrown into the life I lived before I left. From family parties, to job interviews, and appointments, I have not had the time to sit down and digest my time abroad and my reincorporation back into my community. However, sharing my reincorporation letter helped me in this process. I decided to share this letter with my entire family on Saturday when we were all together. My family is very involved and everyone had millions of questions for me about abroad. Therefore, I thought sharing my letter with everyone would be best, and it was. After sharing my letter, my family could see how much this journey meant to me and how I have grown. The quote I decided to share with my family is by Anthony Bourdain. He says, “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you – it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you… Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” I picked this quote to share because it highlights all aspects of travel. I have grown from the good, the bad, and the ugly experiences. Everyone thinks of studying abroad is all sunshine and rainbows, but there are some storms in between. Rather than hiding from these storms, I embraced them and took them as learning opportunities and I want my family to know that. This is a habit that I hope to continue now that I am home. I hope to find the good in the bad more often and take it as a lesson to learn from rather than a discouraging event. Another habit I hope to improve upon is how I spent my time. In Florence, I was always walking around looking for my next adventure. At home I feel myself falling back into that technology slump. Although the days may not be as grand, I plan on breaking this habit and continuing with my adventurous ways as I did in Florence. Changing one’s habits, and bettering oneself is one of the greatest gems discovered while abroad.
The “gems” that come from an education abroad experience are endless. However, for me, a big “gem” that I have discovered is the importance of independence. Living in a foreign country without my parents or the rest of my family has giving me this sense of independence I never imagined. I thought I experienced this when I went off to college, but I quickly realized that being independent with help just a short two hour car ride away and having help an ocean away are completely different types of independence. It is hard to explain, but I have gained more confidence and happiness from this independence that I never dreamed of. With that being said, being an independent person is great, but a true “gem” of being abroad is the appreciation I have gained for my family, I have also known I have a very supportive family. But to feel that support, the love and care of my family from thousands of miles away was something incredible. Without these two “gems”, I would not have experienced the same results from this education abroad.