Finally Home! Sort of…
I finally touched down in St. Louis, Missouri at 12:20 pm on Monday, December 15th. This is the moment I had been waiting for the past few weeks.
As I stepped out of the plane, familiar senses hit me hard – the 30 degree temperature accompanied by frozen rain that comes this time of year, the scent of the small Lambert Airport and the familiar restaurants within it, the St. Louisian vernacular being spoken around me, and much more. I immediately felt at home and eagerly jogged to luggage claim to meet my family that was waiting for me.
Seeing my family for the first time in four and a half months was absolutely wonderful, but at the same time, kind of strange. I wanted to speak to them in Spanish and immediately gush about everything that happened to me in Perú. There’s so much to tell!!! And I suppose there always will be. But it was nice that, instead, we simply said our hellos and went on with the day as we would any other day. It was nice to fall back into the regular swing of things, something I really missed while studying abroad. I enjoyed all the excitement and new experiences, but I really value schedules and repetitiveness because it signifies that I’m in a safe comfort zone I can call my own.
I have been back home for about a week now, and honestly it’s like I never left. My city appears to be the same physically. I’m already back to operating as I normally do, scheduling meetings, appointments, and time to catch up with old friends. And I’m thankful for my old diet – one that’s filled with fresh vegetables, REAL burgers and ketchup, and minimal rice and potatoes It’s also nice to be able to tune into the radio and be able to sing along with familiar songs from the past and present. So life feels exactly as it did before I left, and I’m incredibly thankful for that. Going back to my normal life does not feel weird to me at all.
Reverse culture shock has not set in for me yet. I’ve been told that it’s worse than initial culture shock…but my initial shock was incredibly strong so I’m doubting that that’s the case for me. It will probably hit me in a month from now or so. And although I can talk about my personal observations and experiences, I still find it difficult to talk about the relationships that I’ve made during my time abroad. They are far too precious to me and unlike any other friendships I’ve had. It’s scary to think that I will hardly be seeing any of those people again or that I will never meet people like them in the future.
People have been asking me how I’ve changed from this experience. And the answer is that it really isn’t that obvious. I’m still my regular self on the outside. But I have changed the way in which I think and view the world. For example, I still catch myself periodically translating sentences in my head to Spanish before I say them aloud. And I still look at the prices of food and convert them to soles in my head, just to compare (and on that note, realizing that I regularly spend a LOT more money on food than what I should). But I also view the world differently. For example, I never took my living conditions in general for granted, but I never thought about how incredible it is to the option for hot water at every sink in the house. Also, having common ground in my backyard is something that I now know will always be a priority for me in any living situation. Furthermore, I appreciate not being catcalled every 5 minutes by random men on the street. I don’t feel like I have to watch my back as carefully anymore or make sure that my outfit isn’t too “gringo”. It’s the little things like these that I’m so appreciative for and will compare to other countries in my future travels.
To wrap things up, I’d like to say a quick thank you to IFSA Butler for giving me the opportunity to blog on their behalf and thank you to everyone in the IFSA community that has aided me in studying abroad. I will not forget all of the support that has been given to me. I will be sure to pay it forward to future IFSA students.
Attached are some of pictures that represent some of my favorite memories with my closest friends on the trip. Thanks to all who read this blog – I really appreciate your interest in my adventures and learning experience! If you want to know any more about this experience or about traveling in Perú, feel free to contact me at email@example.com. Have a wonderful holiday season!