the art of going home

Today is a day of blogging firsts.

ONE: This is the first time I am writing a post on an actual computer. A computer with a keyboard and a proper screen. Otherwise known as a device other than my iPhone. Oh sweet Mary, what a relief.

TWO: This is my first time writing a post in the good ol’ U.S.A.

Yup, instead of laying in a hammock, thumbing my newest blog entry in nothing but a bathing suit and sunglasses, I now write to you from here.

20130203-100842.jpg

My tan lines are fading faster than I can type.

I’ve actually been home for just over a week now. Had every intention of recommencing my blogging career immediately upon my arrival, but quickly got carried away with family dinners, Gonzaga basketball, and Downton Abbey. The latter of which I am now boycotting after what they did to Lady Sybil. Why, Downton, WHY?

You may also have noticed that I’ve revamped my blog’s website. And changed the URL. And have established Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook Page accounts. If you know me, then you know that this is big news. I am not one for technology and I am not one for social media.

Until now.

That’s right, friends. I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf and put my computer prejudices aside as I strive to become a more serious travel blogger. I know the timing may seem a bit off as I’ve just ended my travels, but there are still loads of things from this last trip that I need to write about. Plus, I’ll be heading to Maui, New York, Los Angeles, and my home base of Washington D.C. over the next few weeks — all places that are definitely blog worthy.

Going Back to the USA

Returning home after a long trip is always strange. Not because it’s so difficult to readjust to “normal” life, but because it’s so easy.

I’ve lived outside of the United States for 4, 6, 8 months at a time — and at the close of each of those trips, I become super anxious thinking about readapting to American culture. I assume it will be hard. I assume that all my newfound worldliness will prevent me from comfortably entering back into my former lifestyle. I assume that I will look and feel out of place.

But every time, I am wrong. I very easily slide back into “normal” life — which at first makes me feel betrayed for having not undergone some profound change, and then makes me want to kick myself for having bought into such self-righteous bullshit to begin with.

I initially experienced this after spending 8 months studying abroad in Florence, Italy. On my return flight, I kept replaying scenes of me walking around campus and feeling completely isolated from everyone around me; I was so nervous stepping into the main Student Center. However, my concerns proved futile as I quickly fell into a comfortable conversation with familiar faces upon walking through the door. The people I chatted with knew I had been abroad, but other than a few polite questions about Florence, our talk carried on in the same manner it would’ve had I never been gone.

Over the succeeding weeks, all my social interactions occurred with similar ease. However, rather than being pleased, I found the simplicity of my assimilation more upsetting than anything else. I had unconsciously wanted my return to be a challenge, as it would affirm that I really had grown and changed — and experienced all of those other clichés — during my time abroad.

Cue palm-to-forehead moment.

20130203-220230.jpgTaken on my last morning in Florence: April 15, 2010

So now I’m back from Brazil and readapting splendidly, per usual. No real reverse culture shock; no struggle with reacclimatization. Sure, there have been moments of anxiety and discomfort over the last week (like when the Zags almost lost to USD) , and I certainly have been juxtaposing the two cultures like it’s my job (Brazilian black beans vs. American black beans – the winning legume remains TBD) — but in terms of my ability to “fit in” with American society, so to speak, I’ve had no qualms.

Except this time, I’ve dropped the self-righteous dramatics.

I’m a huge advocate for travel. I’m an even bigger advocate for cross-cultural immersion. And of course my experiences abroad have aided in my personal growth. Mark Twain was definitely on to something when he said, “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness” (…though I then have to wonder if Twain got out much, amirite?).

However, I also think that a lot of self-proclaimed globe-trotters are a little too quick to congratulate themselves on their worldliness. I mean, let’s be honest, even the most rough-and-tumble adventurer can be an utter snob when it comes to talking travel — myself included.

Then, while reading Anna Karenina the other day, I came across a few lines that reminded me that travelers aren’t the only ones who are quick to toot their own horns. The passage, regarding the distinctions between two close friends, reads as such:

“They were fond of each other since in spite of the difference in their characters and tastes, as friends who have known each other since boyhood mostly are. But in spite of that, as it often happens with men who have chosen different life callings, though they might justify each other’s career in discussing it, in their hearts they despised it. Each believed that the life he himself led was the only real life and the life led by his friend was nothing but an illusion.”

So maybe self righteousness plagues all those who are passionate?

But enough with the personal problems.

Today is Super Bowl Sunday, my third favorite American holiday preceded only by Thanksgiving and the 4th of July, and I plan on fully enjoying it.

20130203-100800.jpgSo Happy Super Bowl Sunday everyone! In case you were wondering, I’m rooting for Beyonce.

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7 thoughts on “the art of going home

  1. I studied abroad as well in Florence this past summer. Florence is a unique place compared to Rome. As a class we went down to Rome for a weekend and once the weekend trip was over with, I was glad to be going back “home” to Florence. You have some amazing experiences. I love it!

  2. Very true words. We always come back from traveling thinking ourselves quite different and worldly and then how easily we fit back into to our former lives. I also studied abroad in Florence back in 2008. And you’re a Zag? I went to Saint Mary’s so I have a shirt that says “Beat the Zags!”. Quite the rivalry there!

    • What a small world! I was in Florence for the 09-10 school year. And I also have a similar shirt that says “beat the Gaels.”
      Thanks for the feedback. I love your idea of featuring 5 posts from different bloggers every week on your blog — what a great way to connect with the travel blogging community!

  3. I enjoyed reading your comments but would gently disagree on a couple points.

    It IS relatively easy to get wrapped back up in the fold at home, as long as you don’t expect people to want to LEARN a whole lot from you about your time away. As long as your experiences are amusing anecdotes your people will want to hear them.

    My experience coming home from 3 years as a CUSO volunteer was completely different. My values had changed and I no longer give two ____ about hockey or hit music or movie stars or service at Tim Hortons. The child standing in front of a loaded frig complaining “there’s nothing to eat” does not compare to seeing a baby in hospital with kwashiorkor while healthy fruits are literally falling off trees outside the hospital.

    Do keep on blogging tho’. It’s wonderful to read. Thanks
    Meghann

    • Meghan, totally true — my friends love hearing about my hilarious travel mishaps. They seem to never tire of listening to me tell of the time I accidentally asked a man in a Brazilian bakery if he was my father rather than if he had bread. In my defense, “pao” and “pae” are very similar words, and I had only attended 1 Portuguese class at that point!

      Sounds like you had an amazing experience as a CUSO volunteer. Where were you living? I’ve never lived abroad for more than an 8 month period, so I can imagine that being gone for 3 years would result in a different level of culture shock. Not to say that my travels haven’t altered my perspective — they absolutely have in every way. My values evolve with every trip. It’s more that I’ve never found it difficult to readjust back to life in the US. Which means perhaps I need to take a page out of your book and move abroad for a more extended period of time 🙂

      Thanks for reading and thanks for the feedback! I really appreciate it 🙂

  4. Hi! Promptness is not my forte. LOL. I was in a place called Vanuatu, working in Agriculture. An amazing transformational time. Learned a lot about myself. Provided a lot of entertainment to the local people I’m sure. Learned to scuba dive. Made some great friends….. and yes …. the finer points of language get tricky — in attempting to make casual conversation I asked this guy if he was boring (mean to asked if he was bored)…. that chat didn’t last long!!!

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