You would think after 4 months of being back in the States I would have adjusted by now, and part of me has. The other part is internally rebelling to keep what I have changed and who I have become. I imagined returning from study abroad would be difficult, and it is. Some people adjust better than others; some missed home incredibly while away, where I did not. I felt parts of me I had never felt before, I emerged truly alive.
My friends and family have noticed my growth and change. Perhaps I have gotten more liberal and progressive (thanks, Europe) and also not afraid to say my opinion or put myself out there. My family pokes fun when I say, "Well ever since Ireland I just don't care about... [cracking the bumper of my car]" which I think is my way of letting go of the little things and not getting tied up in the things I cannot control. Others have mentioned how interesting my life is and I joke that it wasn't really up until last semester. Now I have so many stories to tell, conversation starters, life lessons under my belt, and I definitely feel older.
The most strange thing I have felt starting this semester back at Saint Mary's is having had all these life-altering experiences and personal growth then being put back into your previous environment. I was, I could argue, a lot different of a person before I left and now I have returned and am left with the feat of finding my place again. There is not really a way I can go back to the place I was before and since I am in the same community I am pushed to go outside my realm and comfort zone.
It seemed easier to push myself when I was in a foreign country, I think the mind says well why the hell not? Back in my home town bubble my mind thinks of a thousand of reasons to not break out of schedule that I know. But I crave it, I need it. All my time abroad allowed me to be a free thinker and I am attempting to do the same here. This is where I feel I do not fit in anymore. Some people can try and understand where I am coming from, but it definitely helps having the girls who went to Ireland with me.
Did I mention I have 6 more sober months until hitting the bars? Europe was quite the tease so I have my reasons for being bitter...
I miss the crisp Irish air, lackadaisical daily mindset, all my friends I made there, and lastly the freedom to be whoever I wanted to be. Yeah, I can be whoever I want to be anywhere obviously. But in that foreign place it just seemed to pull it out of me and excite passions in me I had never know of.
For now I am aiming to keep my eyes on my goals, and even if this may not be where I want to be right now I need to be at peace with where I am, on the way to where I am going. Its all part of the process. I will continue to laugh, cry, make new friends and experiences because I am young and in the prime of my life. I can still allow myself to dream of moving to Europe one day, something to motivate me day in and day out!
I still would never replace I had abroad and am thankful for all those experiences. I would never have known what I was missing out on if I never took the leap.