I left Chile about a week and a half ago, arriving in America early Monday morning. In my typical fashion, I’ve kept myself as busy as possible. I think it’s my way of dealing. If I keep moving, I don’t have to stop and think about what I left behind.
While I’m busy, I’m not as busy as normal. I decided not to pursue a job or internship upon my return to the States for two simple reasons. 1. It’s difficult to find a job for only 6 weeks. 2. I’m worn out. So, while I’ve been seeing friends and traveling to see loved ones, I’ve been sleeping in and taking naps, things I don’t normally let myself do. I think that’s how I’m dealing with coming back. I spent 10 months abroad in 2 different continents. I am physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. Taking a break was the best decision for me.
As I’ve already stated, everyone deals with re-entry differently. I cried waiting to board the plane, but was fine after take-off. One of my friends told me she bawled for the first hour on the plane and then was fine. Some haven’t cried, some are still crying. We’re all different people and will all deal with re-entering our country differently.
As I’ve already mentioned, I’m dealing with it by seeing all my loved ones and doing the things I love doing (well and studying for the GRE). I’m reminding myself of what I love and have here. Of course, I do listen to latino music while I’m cleaning to remind me of the good times I had in Chile. It’s an adjustment process, but I think that coming back to the love and support of my family was what I needed to help readjust. There will be more adjustments, but this is a good start.
So far, there have been a few shocks to my system already. Firstly, I stepped off the plane and started sweating. It’s summer and it’s no joke! Next, there was customs. While leaving Chile, one of the customs officials flirted with me. Re-entering the US, I was shocked by how rude and suspicious our customs officers were. I was also amazed by how much a semester abroad had changed my view of the necessity of this suspicion. It was not the welcome-back I was hoping for.
Aside from that, I tried to speak to a woman in Spanish when my flight landed and tried to ask a waiter for a check. I’ve also had to ask my friends how much I’m supposed to tip in America because somehow I managed to forget that fact. Air conditioning and heating have been a bit of an adjustment for me as well. My family went to Northern Michigan for a weekend, and when the temperature dropped to 45, I became nervous as I didn’t have enough blankets or clothes. I was quickly reminded that we have heat. I’d managed to forget that too. While I was able to remember what the bigger adjustments would be like, I keep bumping into small cultural differences that I try to do the “Chilean” way. I know that in time, I’ll readjust and this will no longer be a problem for me. It will just take patience.
As for my experiences, those are something I hope to never lose.
Continuously arriving late is a habit I should probably work on breaking though.