The most incredible part of studying abroad is that the prospect of returning home excites you just as much as leaving home did.
This is not to say that you’ll want to leave, and even if you do it’s a near guarantee that within a week or so of being home you’ll wish you were still abroad.
It also bring just as many unknowns.
Wait, what do you mean I’m in Australia, across the enormity of the Pacific Ocean? That I’ve lived here for the past five months? Did I really have all of those utterly ridiculous experiences? And have I really met these people, seen these sights?
It’s June, I thought it would have sunk in by now and made sense, seemed less surreal. But no, as much as I have adjusted and acclimated to living this life, as soon as I stop and give it more than a passing thought I have to stop dead and laugh. This is just ridiculous, there’s no way this has been my life.
Did I really get on that plane at LAX? I can’t process how this is supposed to be real.
What in the hell am I supposed to tell everyone back home? How do you explain something like this to them, especially when you yourself can’t get a handle on it? It’s such a paradigm shift, so hard to quantify but carries such magnitude on the bearing of your life and self. How do you go back home and synthesize your old life with your new experiences? How do you merge who you were with who you are? It’s hard enough to tackle these in isolation.
The people in your life see you in a certain light, they know you as the person who left just a few months ago, it’s unlikely the status quo has changed for them. Some may have not given more than a passing though to you, and others may have missed you everyday. But the person they miss will come home so changed. It feels as if I’ve had years and years worth of experiences, and I’ll return and be all full of excitement and stories and want to share it all with everyone, but really, though they will care, I cannot convey it with the complexity and impact of it all. They will never know this as I know it, I can not wire them my memories, emotions, pains, and joys gained out here. Can you go through something of this nature and then re-assimilate? Do you return to your old role within friend groups and your family or are you set to carve out a new role? Does anyone even notice the change in you? Or does it turn out to be nothing more than some extended memory that will never leave you, but never touch others? And what of the friends and connections established while abroad? Will you miss the routines and the little things? Do they become memories as well, fading out of reality as the days pass?
Will it seem a superiority complex, a story for everything? “Oh ya, this one time in Australia…” becoming your most used phrase. And everyone quickly getting sick of it. Somehow making you feel wiser and more aware because you were blessed enough to go abroad, does it actually make you any wiser, more aware? Or do you just layer on another set of illusions and probably false perceptions?
Can you go back to doing what you did before? Does it still bring anything to the table? or has it become empty?
It’s so damn daunting because for the first time in your young life, something genuinely feels as if it has magnitude on a large scale, large enough to shape your entire life. There have been times where my life was genuinely in danger. This entire experience could have gone south so quickly. It hasn’t though. And that seems almost more dangerous, giving a false sense of invincibility. It’s a nasty side effect, you get reckless, figure it all just works itself out. And somehow, someway it does. And it scares the shit out of you that you have managed to pull it all off. It has taught you so much about yourself and the world, at least you think it has. You can’t know if anything is actually concrete because there is so little concrete to compare it to.
But you have. And now all that remains is a couple of weeks, exams, and a trip with a brother to southeast Asia.
And then the most daunting destination, Home. What is it to you now? And what are you to it?