As I sat on my bed no longer home, but back at school again, I realized that I have been back in the States for an entire month now.
After spending about three months in a foreign country, coming home is an incredibly strange experience. When I left to go abroad, I was expecting some sort of culture shock or home sickness, but was lucky enough to not really experience too much of either of those things. Being abroad made me incredibly happy, and I loved many of the challenges that came with being abroad.
I loved being forced into a different language, trying to communicate with people with foreign tongues and still being able to find commonalities. I loved trying new cuisines and finding pastries that I will forever be searching for in the states. And I loved being forced out of my comfort zone, being forced to sink or swim and actually swimming through the ocean of confusion that can be life abroad.
After talking with a friend over dinner the other night, I realized part of what makes coming home so strange. When you go abroad, you expect everything there to be different. And in many ways it is. But you also have all of these incredible experiences (like going to the Salt Mines in Krakow or watching the sunrise in Krasnogruda), where you go to places you probably never could have imagined of one day seeing (such as visiting Liverpool or Vilnius). Like it or not, these experiences change some part of you, in some ways that I don’t think I even realize.
Yet when you come home, you don’t expect many things to be different. But they are. Not in extreme ways. But, subtly, pieces of your world have moved on without you (and you have moved on without other pieces of your world). It sounds like a selfish thing, to even think for a second that the world would not go on without you. But it isn’t, at least, it isn’t on purpose.
When you’re gone for an extended period of time, people (including yourself) can change. Relationships change. Seasons change. Things simply change. Unless you spend your entire time away keeping up with everything back home, you will not be up to date with life/friends/family/school when you get back home. And that’s okay.
As I look back over my incredible semester abroad, I often find myself amazed at everything I was able to accomplish in such a short amount of time. I mean, in the ten weeks I was abroad I went to six countries and at least fourteen cities and I find that to be absolutely ridiculous. Now I just hope to keep working hard so that I can one day go back to Europe and see even more of its beauty.