“My Mama always said you’ve got to put the past behind you before you can move on.” – Forrest Gump
So, I am officially back home in New York and although I completely enjoyed my time in Switzerland it really does feel great to be back. I was really surprised when I got home and saw that my mom had set up little decorations for every holiday that I had “missed” and my birthday that was 7 days before I got home. It was a really sweet gesture and, I thought, a fitting way for me to begin my reincorporation process.
I really did not have any reincorporation issues and I think this stemmed from being so busy from the moment I got home. Right off the bat I had a big Memorial Day Weekend party with my mom’s entire side of the family. There was a good mix of me talking about “surface” experiences with some members of my family, and slightly deeper conversations that relate more to this class about the people I met and cultures I encountered, which I really appreciated as it allowed me to reflect on and reaffirm some of the things I learned while I was abroad. I am gracious that all of the questions weren’t about the lower drinking age and my time spent “on vacation”
Next, I shared my reincorporation letter with my mom because I knew she was missing me the most as she had not seen me for the entirety of my trip. My mom has been intrigued with this class since I told her that I was taking it so she asked a lot of questions and was very curious as to the reincorporation process. I showed her the roller coaster illustration that we got during the predeparture workshop to really illustrate to her my time abroad and what she could expect from me in the coming weeks however, I think she has been surprised to find that I really haven’t had any negative effects to being home. Sure, I miss some of the friends I made abroad, and I miss looking at Switzerland, but overall I am happy to be home.
So, carrying this experiences forward in the short term I think will be very easy. Everybody is curious about the adventure I’ve been on over the past four months and they hope to hear my stories, learn my opinions, and gain my insight. Right now I would say these are all external ways of carrying the experience. What will instead be difficult instead, is going to be a few months or a year from now when the “novelty” of studying abroad has worn off. People will stop asking questions, I won’t be showing anybody pictures, and the interest from others will die down. This is when it will become far more important for me to internalize my experiences. I went on this trip for me and therefore I need to make sure I get the most benefit out of it even now that it is over. I have been doing this by constantly reflecting on what I have been done and looking at pictures lately has really helped with that. I am already beginning to forget some of the memories that I made early on in my trip and I need to make sure I am making a conscious effort to not lose those memories.
One of the biggest things I learned was to take care of every opportunity and don’t always prioritize work over everything else. I really learned how to appreciate my free-time abroad whether I was alone or with friends and that is not something I do back home. I worry about the next due date or next test constantly and looking back at my “college career” I feel it has really held me back. I know it will be a tough habit for me to break but enjoying life a little more will be high on my priority list until it becomes a habit.