Home: Post-Study Abroad Reverse Shock and Future Plans

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?”

A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson


I realized I was in America the moment my brother drove past a vast T-Mobile billboard ad on our way back home last Friday evening. It felt surreal, everything looked much more… colossal. What’s ironic is that a year ago, I didn’t think anything of it. This is what happens when you leave home for a year: growth is inevitable.

It’s alien being home. The aura in the house is eerie; it’s usual familiarity feels uncanny and I feel hugged with nostalgic adolescent memories every time I walk by hanging family photos that take me back to times of blissfulness, infuriating family bonding, and poor middle-school fashion decisions that I proudly regret today. I’m actually home.

Now that my study abroad experience has finally come to a close, it’s difficult to neglect the memories or the lifestyle that I’ve gotten so accustomed to. Since it’s over, all I have are the memories that only I can digitally relive and I feel a compelling urge to share them with every chance I get. It’s also bizarre that 10 months flew by with the snap of a finger and I occasionally find myself wondering: where did the time go? A year ago I was in mental shambles, drowning in emotional sorrow and desperately hoping my visa would get approved. Presently, I’ve returned from abroad skilled in drinking wine, rolling cigarettes, partying until 5am, and fancily crossing my legs while enjoying a mid-day coffee. One day these skills will eventually come to good use, but for now they’ll be tucked away along with the rest of the kindred memories of people and places that I hold on to oh so dearly.

It’s also dawned on me that jet lag, reverse culture shock, and the 6hr time difference are real and I’m slowly adjusting to the sudden change. I’m tired all the time, but I wake up at 6am every morning. I’m alarmed whenever I walk into a huge department store and suddenly visualize the quaint European shops that I used to aimlessly stroll in to. I’m content with the restricted EU food portion as opposed to an over-tolerated serving that is widely accepted here. I forgot for a hot second how spoiled America is; I’m in a dilemma.

I’m always being reassured by friends and family that my reverse culture shock will soon vanish, which isn’t baffling, but I’m starting to be haunted by symptoms of wanderlust. I wanna go. I wanna see. I wanna hear. I wanna learn. I don’t care where I go but I just need to go somewhere. Unfortunately for now, I’ll be either at home or school, working or sleeping, attempting to use my limited free days to either take day trips to NYC or neighboring states, visiting family and friends, and preparing for the upcoming school year. Sigh.

However, one thing I’m very excited for is senior year. 2019 I’m coming for ya and I’m definitely not holding back. I never thought senior year would rapidly approach; I clearly remember my first day of college 3 years ago. I remember being so eager about beginning my college career and I just couldn’t wait to turn the page to a new chapter. High school was finally over and it felt middling to dream beyond Connecticut’s state borders. I was studying in New York and can’t nobody tell me nothin’. But shit, 3 years later, here I am: almost at the finish line. I often wonder, what will be the next step? Graduate school? Volunteer Work? Traveling? 9-5 Work?

The most imperative question is: How will I do it?

That question is haunting. I actually despise when it pops up in my mind, like, can you stop? My inner conscious can’t help it and I often catch myself future tripping 5, 10, 15 years from now. So many possibilities, so many impossibilities. Doubt encompasses my mind and at times, I feel inadequate. I know that I radiate light and am aware of my talent, skills, and potential but I worry about my productivity in resemblance to others. I fear that I’ll let certain qualities of myself go to waste. I’m fearful of my power but I’m determined to make peace with myself, my pace, and the inevitable. It’s merely human nature to unintentionally wallow in a flummoxing identity crisis. With each given day, I attempt to remind myself that the inner obstacles I’m facing now will soon diminish with time and growth.

One thing I do know is that although I’m not sure about my future, I do have some sort of idea of my desired path. I am interested in continuing writing; it’s a hobby that I’m actually considering as a possible career path. I love the idea of storytelling; whether it’s my story, a fictional story, or another person’s story. Everyone’s story deserves to be told. I do at some point want to volunteer in a third world country, like Haïti or a country in Africa. Another part of me wants to be active in the social justice sphere because I refuse to let the aftermath of colonization continue to plague the lives and opportunities of my fellow people of color. Like I said: so many possibilities, so many questions, and so many possible outcomes.

I guess I have to live through each day, work my hardest, and witness my life unfold. I’ll figure it out. I mean, what else am I supposed to do, watch my life pass by? Nah. Imma work.

Cheers,

~R

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