I hauled by 100+ pound bags across the whole of London, to Heathrow with my muscles shaking by the end of it. I finally got to sit down on the plane for 8 hours and in that time leaving this new home of mine it really started to hit me that the past five months were really coming to a conclusion. Could I really be going home already? I started to make a mental list to see that I’d covered everything on my London bucket list. It seemed like the plane was going through a portal taking me to a new world I had known forever, but that will never be the same to me after this journey. After piling my bags in the car and cuddling my puppy in the back seat, my parents told me that the dog had started to bark out the window and get excited even before I had left the airport; she somehow knew I was there. To me that was the sign that I was where I belonged. If there is one thing that I have absolutely learned from this trip, it’s that home is where your loved ones are, the memories and good times will always follow that.
It’s hard to believe that I was thousands of miles away only a week ago but since coming home it’s been a whirlwind of family visits and endless questions about what my favorite part was. (I still can’t answer that myself, I loved everything!) I think the hardest part of this all was trying to finish everything I needed to do in the week I was home amidst my parents packing for a trip of their own and half of my house being under construction. But amongst this chaos is home, my family has always been a fast-paced group of people who always are moving onto the next adventure. If I had come home to everything orderly, then it simply wouldn’t have been home. Besides, who wants to slow down when there is so much life to live?
In my letter of reincorporation, I shared a quote by Paul Fussel who commented, “In that travel provides at least temporary escape from inherited traditions and personal identity, it can be seen as an act of rebellion, a means of separating oneself from the dominant influences of kith and kin in order to define and assert an identity of our own. I travel; therefore, I am.” (2010, pg. 203) This quote struck me because it showed to my parents how this experience has changed me as an individual, separate from my family ties and now it is my mission to combine the new person I am with the communities I’ve grown up in. My parents were very supportive of all that I have done in the past few months and continue to be supportive every day. They always helped me out when I had a question and always offered ideas of things to do in the places I visited so that I could experience everything that I could. They made sure that I was comfortable and ready for each next step. It means the world to me that I have them as a support system. I wouldn’t have been able to study abroad in the first place, physically or emotionally without them.
Now that I am back in the states, I have been looking for ways to make sure that the patterns I had learned in Europe continued in my life here. As I read Slimbach’s paragraph on habits, I remembered how I had started to create routines during my journey that were really beneficial. When I started my time in London I made my bucket list, so that I would always have a next step of what to do. I learned to plan ahead and to make sure that every day I left the dorm by mid-morning so that I would experience everything I could instead of remembering my time from inside a dorm room. These routines and rules let me explore areas of London that I hadn’t known existed before just from walking around aimlessly. To continue with these patterns here, I plan on keeping my mid-morning rule and to create a bucket list for each new phase of my life- including both my internship this summer, and senior year. I learned to be a more relaxed person in Europe and enjoy everything that comes my way. As Slimbach remarks, “Realize that, in the end, explaining one’s personal transformation is not nearly as important as living it.” (2010, pg. 210) I want to show all of the people around me that Europe has changed me for the better and that and that as a result I will bring the ideals I have learned there with me everywhere I go.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Kindle for Mac.