It’s been one crazy roller coaster ride. I’ve been home for about a week now and it’s just flown by. I feel as if I’m almost not even present in my being, I’ve literally been living day to day. It’s not so much a result of shock or being overwhelmed since my return, but rather it’s because I didn’t really get a nice transition into my return from abroad and beginning the semester here back home. I literally went from airport to bed and the next morning drove up moved in and attended classes. I didn’t really get a little break to adjust back to the flow of things back home. Even so, I don’t really feel disadvantaged at all. I mean granted being home feels so different, but it’s not a bad different.
As I look back to 1 week back I remember mentally preparing myself for the separation from the friends and makeshift family I made in my host country and the country itself. It was definitely a bittersweet situation and still is. I mean I wanted to see the family I hadn’t seen for almost half a year, but at the same time I didn’t want to leave those who I had grown close with in my host country. No matter who and where you travel there is no way you can’t grow attached to the people and environment around you. It was just how I started this journey in the first place except now I knew where I was going and where I came from. Now when I think about it, it’s not just the people and the country, but the effect those people and places had on me. Since coming back home even with all the rushing, I still feel at ease, not in matters of school obviously the beginning of the semester is always hectic, but rather as a person. I feel satisfied with the person who came back and how she’s changed from the girl who left almost 6 months ago.
I know from what we read in chapter 8, Slimbach talks about the 3 types of returnees and I’d like to think of myself as the: “integrative returnee”. This trip beyond the people and the places I saw, though important, it was a journey that led me to discover things about myself and gain wisdoms and knowledge or the world around me. It’s strange to compare it to liminality because I don’t mean it in the way we spoke about it earlier in the semester. I mean in the sense that my being and thoughts aren’t just encompassing my home thinking or my host country thinking, but a combination of the two. I feel comfortable questioning things that I never thought of or paid attention to before.
I had a really long conversation with my folks on the way home from the airport and we really talked about everything. Dealing with how I felt when I left home to the first month to the end of my trip to returning home. It was a lot of mixed emotions and feelings, with leaving and coming back. We talked a lot about my outlook and plans for the future, I have this drive to push my ideas and plans down the path that I choose. I discussed with them how I reflected a lot on my future and past which elicited some emotions with all of us, especially talking about my reflection of the past. I think if anything my time abroad taught me to be more open about things I kept to myself. It was nice to be able to finally share my thoughts with my family and having them understand the person I am and will grown and continue to be. I mean not anything drastic, but I was never one to share my feelings (i.e. Upset, stressed with, or sad) with anyone and would keep them in and I’ve done fine, but there’s a nice pressure off your shoulders when you have people to depend on and listen. I’ve always been the one people go to for advice or if they need someone to talk to. So I always felt that expressing the same, not that it wasn’t allowed, but rather I felt like it burden the person I shared it with. It was silly. There were many things that this trip taught me and if anything I think communication and self-reflection of definitely a part of that. I discovered a lot of things about myself that I can’t even begin to explain or describe. I used a picture of a girl looking off into the distance from a cliff edge with a determined stance, almost as if saying she will accomplish all in her way, not even mountains could stand in her way. Here it is:
I hoped with this picture to show that I have come home even stronger than when I left. That I will not give up on the things I take up and I will strive anywhere I am. To I hoped to represent that I would move forward and not dwell on the past, but not forget the lessons I learned from my past experiences. That I would learn and incorporate the things I learned in all that I do in the future.
In this past week I’ve met up with some friends and I’ve come to realize that not all of them should be in my life. Not to say that their horrible people, but rather it seems that we no longer share the same interests and are all going to different directions with our lives. That’s not a bad thing at all people change and sometimes you can’t change with them. I think since getting back I recognized the people who will be friends for life and those that will meet and go your separate way. It’s a sign of growth and step towards the future. They all ask the same question, “How was it?” and I mean for some of them they are genuine and want to know, while others just say it out of courtesy. That’s just the way it goes, I expected it so I’m not too bothered. I do however feel like I’ve matured over my time abroad and some of my friends have said the same thing, that I’m even more level headed as I was before. It’s a bad thing, I learned a lot so I think that’s a given. I think what it is, it that my view and outlook on things have changed.
Slimbach mentions “precious gems” to describe the riches gained during your abroad journey. More specifically the metaphorically riches, things that you took from your experience and he does this by breaking these experiences into 8 different types. The two that I think I can incorporate into my life now so as not to lose what I have gained are to cultivate primal joys and discern vocation. While abroad I was able to meet so many wonderful people some of which are really close to my heart. I made a promise with them and myself to keep in touch, but even beyond that hold fast to the things I learned from them. For instance I adopted the habit of one of flat mates, which was her and her family while cooking dinner would have this book of quizzes on various topics. The entire family would join in and the interaction was really welcoming. No electronics just enjoying each other’s company and coming together as a family. I really enjoyed and want to start that type of tradition with my own family. Another one of my friends from abroad had this habit of singing at random times throughout the day and once we asked why he did that and he told us it was because he was happy. I learned from him that anytime is a good time to express yourself and do what makes you happy. I’m going to try and incorporate this way of thinking to my everyday life, taking at least 30 minutes a day to just lay back and do something that I enjoy. Also, now anytime I sing I automatically think of the flat mate. With discerning vocation Slimbach talks about finding yourself and what makes you happy in life. When I was abroad I developed this habit of whenever I needed to think over things or wanted to sort through my thoughts I went for long relaxing and peaceful walks. By the time I arrived back from where I started I resolved whatever had been bothering and was able to approach the problem or situation more efficiently. Not to mention that by the time I came back from my walk I was 10x times happier and relaxed. I found a way to sort through my life when I recognize that there is a need to. In addition by traveling abroad I was able to find things that I really enjoyed that I had never given any thought to. I will continue to try and accomplish the same things as I did while abroad. It was a truly life changing experience and I won’t lose what I gained from it.
Now that I think about my old habits there are some that have definitely changed since I left home and have returned. This is mostly because I’m not the same person I was when I left and those habits don’t hold any real need to continue now. For instance my habit of keeping or having too many things; after living abroad with the bare minimum I honestly don’t need or want much. I’m getting rid of a lot of things during spring-cleaning. It was a habit my mother tried to break for a long time, but it just happened naturally as a result of studying abroad. I don’t maybe because now I’m interested in travel and it’s easier to travel light? I ate a lot healthier and tried lots of things while aboard that I would never dare to try or look at because I was super picky. I really hope I can continue that momentum and not fall back into the slump of things now that I’m home. Although I taste in sweet things is even less than what it already was to begin with, but still, I hope I will be able to maintain.
“If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must no stay there, you must go beyond them.”
~ Bruce Lee
I chose this quote because right now as I think back to who I was and the way I thought about things, I was held back by the limitations I put to myself. If I had never reached past my expectations I would never have gotten to go abroad. I have goals and dreams that I would say are definitely hard to accomplish and reach, but they are possible. I feel by studying abroad I have created an open door for all possible opportunities and I will no longer limit myself. I will strive past my expectations and accomplish my goals. If there are no limits, then there are no impossibilities, if there are no impossibilities then there can only be opportunities.