Arriving home was surreal. After almost six months being away from home it somehow felt as if I’d been gone forever, yet at the same time never left. My family knew I’d be sad about being home so my sister and my five nieces and nephews visited for my first week home. They tried to ease me back into real life slowly. This first week home also involved lots of visits with friends and questions about abroad. I want to tell everyone how amazing it was, but it’s hard to describe. There is truly no way share what my experience was in words.
Reincorporation is described as how well someone is able to become re-established into their home community after experiencing a rite of passage. I find it the necessary evil to an amazing trip abroad. Coming home was not without its ups and downs, a multitude of emotions. Slimbach writes about how “Coming home can actually take as much getting used to as going abroad ever did, and maybe more. Where as we anticipate having to adapt ourselves to differences abroad, we don’t expect the same as we set foot back on native soil” (Slimbach 204). I really relate to this as I found coming home to be difficult. It’s not that I didn’t miss home and my friends and family, I had become accustomed to and loved my life abroad. Going home meant no more amazing adventures every day and work and school. It’s challenging to immediately jump out of this mindset that I was in for 6 months and prepping for many before that.
My separation letter was to my mom so it was only fitting that my reincorporation letter be addressed to her as well. My mom truly made my study abroad experience complete, both by being there if I ever needed her and supporting me financially. I supported myself throughout my entire study abroad experience but as often happens my budget fell short at the end. My mom didn’t want me to miss out on experiences with new friends so she lent me money. I also talked about how it was going to be an adjustment going back to living in someone else’s house and losing a big chunk of the freedom I had become accustomed to.
And it has been hard for me getting back into my old life. Reincorporation is filled with boredom, rules, work, and a longing to go back abroad. Something that helped me adjust to being home the most was speaking with friends who had also gone abroad. It’s impossible to describe the impact of being abroad to someone who hasn’t experienced it. It creates a longing for the commmunitas that had been forged overseas. Friends who had already been through their reincorporation phases helped me through mine.
Pascal Mercier said, “We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there”. I like this quote because I felt like I left a part of myself abroad. Not in a bad way, but in a longing. Australia and New Zealand became my homes and I fell completely in love with them. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have left something behind because I brought back so much more in my growth as a person.