“Why do you leave? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there you see differently, too. Coming back to where you started is never the same as not leaving.” Terry Pratchett
For the sake of continuity, I’m starting my last post with another quote. After almost 24 hours of travel I’ve now been home for two weeks, and besides the extreme change in weather the transition has been pretty seamless – it’s kind of scary how easily I slipped back into my usual routine. It’s been kind of overwhelming only hearing English around me for the first time in five months, and I sometimes find myself thinking in Spanish, but otherwise going back to the US has been fairly uneventful. I think going back to college will be the toughest part of resuming life in the US, after a brief two-week vacation. While I’m excited to see my friends, teammates, and professors, I’m nervous about returning to the craziness of the trimester system and juggling track practice, work, academics, and extracurriculars again.
So far, I’ve been enjoying telling people about my time abroad, besides my immediate family who continues to mock me every time I mention something from the last five months. Of course, the biggest hurdle is the all-encompassing question of “So, how was it?” that comes from people I haven’t seen in a while. It is impossible to sum up my time abroad in one word, one sentence, or even one minute of explanation, so I usually just say “It was incredible!” because Chile truly was just that. I’ve realized that people in the US barely know about their own country, let alone others, so I usually end up answering a lot of general knowledge questions about Chile.
To wrap up my time as an IFSA blogger, I’d like to thank you for reading my posts. If you’re a student preparing to go abroad, or thinking about going abroad, I’d recommend keeping a blog, whether it be public like this one or just for your own eyes. Writing really helped me process the last few months, and I’m sure I’ll look back on the posts I’ve made here and in my own journal in the future. I’m still immensely grateful to have had the privilege of studying abroad, especially with IFSA Butler, and I can’t wait to see how my time in Chile continues to impact my life.
Here are a few things I’d tell myself back in July, before leaving for Chile:
-You’ll have good Spanish days and bad Spanish days. Sometimes strangers will ask you for directions and you’ll instantly respond, referencing the metro map engrained into your mind and knowing what stop they need to get off at to switch trains. Other times a friend will ask how your day went and you’ll suddenly forget every word you ever learned.
-Your Spanish will improve over time, and you’ll (mostly) stop zoning out while your psychology professor goes on tangents while you hastily try to get down the information on the PowerPoint slides he’s burning through.
-If you see or find something you want to do, do it as soon as possible! Before you know it, your 5 months will come and go and you still won’t have tried Peruvian food despite the dozens of restaurants in your neighborhood.
-If you, like me, are queer, you are perfectly entitled to your decision to come out or not come out. My choice to come out to my host family and people on my program went well.
-Don’t sweat the things you weren’t able to do.
-Skype with your family more often. This is just as much for your sake as it is for theirs.
-Take even more pictures.
Thank you again for reading!