Bringing It Home
The road to home was not easy. I spent my last night in Cork at a house party with my dear Irish friend (who I already miss desperately) and stayed up sitting in my empty room until 5:00am when I was to leave for my bus. After trying and failing to make the 45 minute walk with my suitcase and two backpacks, I called a cab and made the bus just in time. Four hours later, I was going through US customs screening, two hours later I boarded the plane, ten hours later I was in the San Francisco airport. Everything, somehow, felt as though I had never left. I greeted my parents like no time had past, the two-hour drive to my small town was uneventful. Nothing had changed (but my town never changes). I somehow managed to not get jet-lagged and was able to stay conscious through the day. It was the late afternoon, and we prepared dinner with the rest of my family, like every Sunday that I’ve been home since college. Day turned to night: my bed had the same blankets, my shower had the same shampoo, my room was in the haphazard state I left it when I first set off for Ireland. I went to bed and woke up, and it was truly as if I had never left. For the few days I was home, I doubted the “post-abroad slump” that so many people had warned me about.
The following week, I flew to my school to see all my friends before we all scattered across the country for our internships. I struggled to fit back into the environment that I thrived in, but something felt off: what was wrong? Everyone bustled around packing and taking finals while I tried to feel comfortable in my usual haunts. I left a few days later confused and worried that the slump was upon me.
I just got home from an ice cream date with my girlfriends that I hadn’t seen since I left. The conversations were the same: lovely, but unchanging. Our routine was the same. But I felt uneasy. On my drive home, I took the roads I always took, trying to figure out why I couldn’t feel comfortable in my hometown, why I didn’t feel right at the college I adore. And I realized, the most cliche of cliches: these places hadn’t changed, I had. My world was bigger now. I had left, I traveled to new countries, I experienced new cultures. I had left a hole when I went away that I no longer fit into.
But I love it. At least, I’ll learn to. My views are wider, my mind more open. I learned so much while I was abroad about being an individual, standing on my own, and loving every challenge. And those lessons will help me through this temporary slump. I’ve been away for a long time, but it’s time to find myself a new place in my old home.