There was no way to describe how I felt when the plane landed back on American soil in Los Angeles on Sunday. Looking back it all seems like a blur. I woke up in my bedroom the next morning almost confused as to how I wasn’t back in my apartment in Adelaide, as if flying home was all a dream. That’s how the past few days have felt being back on Long Island, dreamlike. It’s as if nothing has changed but at the same everything has. When I first arrived in Australia I remember a similar feeling. When I said goodbye to my friends and family it felt so unreal, as if I would just be seeing them the next day. That’s how it felt when I left Australia, but it a way that’s comforting because I know I’ll see it again one day.
I felt ready to come back home when I was back in Australia. I was ready to see my friends and family again, but at the same time I knew leaving would not be easy. On my last day in Adelaide, my friend and I took a stroll around the city, back to where our journey began. We visited the Botanic Gardens, Rundle Mall, and a small cupcake boutique we had gone to our first weekend here. It seemed fitting to finish where we started. It was the perfect reflection on the journey I had made, and it made saying goodbye a little less painful. I was a different person walking through the gardens on that last day than the person that visited them during her first few days in Australia.
Along with the many souvenirs I brought back with me, I’m bringing my experiences back with me too. There’s a lot of talk about experiencing reverse-culture shock as a study abroad student returning home, and I think this often happens because adjustment to life a few months ago can bring frustration. You’ve learned so much abroad not just about yourself but about relationships, culture, and self-reliance. Adjusting back to your old life seems impossible because you were a different person then. I think the key to overcoming this is to bring what you’ve learned back home and apply it. Going back into a routine you knew months ago, I feel, would almost be disrespectful to my entire trip. Of course, I can’t wait to return to my college and return to some comforting traditions, but at the same time I want to bring change with me. I’ve been inspired by the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met to share them with the people I’ve known and loved for years here.
As I said before it’s only been a few days since I’ve been home. I’m still just ecstatic to be around the things I’ve missed for many months, but I’m sure I’ll begin to reminisce back to the land down under soon. One thing is for sure. I’ll never forget the journey I took. A part of me will always belong in Australia, so thanks for following me on this trip, and thank you Australia for allowing me to discover new friendships, new places, and new perspectives. This won’t be goodbye.