Forgive me if this post is a little bit all over the place. It’s been over 3 weeks since I last wrote.
Half of that time was spent in the United States, and the more recent half has been experienced from Guatemala. So there’s a lot to cover.
When I was in college, I spent a semester in Mexico. Before leaving, we were required to take a class to prepare us to study abroad. In the class, we spent a majority of the time discussing culture shock. Part of that discussion was devoted to something called re-entry shock which some people experience coming back from study abroad. Basically when you suffer re-entry shock, you come home to your family and friends after this amazing experience and you feel like you’ve grown and changed as a person and are suddenly different from those you used to be so close to. You may feel like no one wants to hear about your experiences, even though that’s all you want to talk about. And so it can be frustrating.
I never experienced re-entry shock after my study abroad or upon coming home from Puerto Rico.
I think, though, that coming home from Guatemala this winter, I felt the first traces of that “re-entry shock.” For the first time ever, I felt like I had so much to say, and some people just weren’t asking the right questions. I could have supplied the questions for them. I had so many stories to tell! But something kept me from steering the conversation to myself too often in those situations. Sometimes I did feel frustrated, and I finally feel like I have an understanding of what we talked about in that study abroad class.
Of course, mostly my trip home was just good. I caught up with many good friends and family members, and plenty of people did ask the right questions, and I told quite a few of my stories in the 17 days I was home. I saw some friends I don’t always get the pleasure to hang out with, and I spent lots of time with those whom I *need* to see every time I’m home. And when the time came to fly back to Guatemala, I found myself wishing for just a day or two more in Wisconsin.
It’s a blessed thing, then, that sometimes you need to leave a place to realize just how much you love it.
I knew I loved my life in Guatemala last fall. I feel like my friends must be sick of my gushing answer to the question, “How do you like it?” “Oh, everything is so wonderful! The school, the people, the country, just everything.” I think part of my "frustration" over break sometimes came from feeling like that's all that I said to many people, without explaining what life is really like. But when I got back here almost two weeks ago, everything I love about being here was reinforced in full force.
I love my house, with its open spaces and wide windows and white walls comfortable furniture.
I love the weather. (Seriously… 75F and sunny during the day, down to 55F at night to sleep? You can’t tell me that’s not just about perfect for anyone).
I love my community of friends. My first night back, I spent almost 2 hours unpacking and chatting on facebook with friends in the city who were eager to hear I was in the city again. The next morning, I went out to breakfast with a friend, then met up with others to play Ultimate Frisbee, spent the afternoon shopping with another friend, and ate dinner with two of my neighbors. I so rarely spend more than a few hours alone in my house. There is always something going on, always someone who wants to hang out if you’re up for it.
I love my school. I love the beauty of the campus, the friendliness of the teachers, the innocence of my students, the time I have to plan and grade.
I love that I can afford to buy fresh flowers, and that my house is always clean thanks to the wonderful woman who mops up after me each week.
I love going dancing on Friday nights, and going for long runs in the woods on Saturday mornings.
I love buying 12 bananas in the grocery store for less than $1.
I love it all.
I just love life.
So yes, this turned sappy, and I apologize for that. But it was good to be home, and it's good to be back, and I am a happy girl.