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I was filled with mixed emotions when I returned to Connecticut. I was sad to leave the new lifestyle I had developed for the past three and a half months, but I was also so excited to be reunited with comforts from home. I couldn’t wait to see my dogs, to sleep in my own bed, and to wake up with the sound of chirping birds rather than the ever-present city background noise. After being somewhere foreign for a while you long for something comfortable, but after being in such a stimulating environment, comfortable gets old fast. I think this is one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced thus far. After maybe the first three days of being home, I found that I was growing increasingly bored. I feel as though I marveled at something new each day while in Europe. Here, almost everything is familiar and lacking excitement.
Luckily for me, I will be thrown into a new environment again this summer. With a summer internship in Boston, I will be venturing into another unknown environment. While it may not be nearly as big of a jump of going from The United States to Europe, it will still be unfamiliar territory. Prior to my trip abroad, I was nervous about moving to Boston alone. With the experience I have gained in Europe, I now have the confidence to welcome this challenge and look forward to the new experience I will gain.
I started off reading my letter of reincorporation to my family with the quote “‘You can’t go home again.’ That’s because you’re probably a different person than when you left,” from Slimbach’s chapter eight (location 3728 of 4428). I wanted them to understand right of the bat that I was a new person. Slimbach stated, “Expect that most of the positive changes in your life will not be immediately obvious to others. They are likely to appear as covert competencies” (location 4917 of 4428). Like Slimbach expressed, I believe a lot of the ways in which I have changed is the way in which I think. This may not be so apparent to my family and others around me. I’m glad I started with this quote because my family expressed that they respect any new person I’ve become although they do not yet recognize or see me as a new person. I definitely thought that was fair I’ve experienced more subtle, internal changes that aren’t so easily identifiable from an outside perspective. In one simple way to express how I’ve changed, I showed them a picture of me on my solo trip to Alicante. It was a picture of me happily eating alone at restaurant for dinner. I chose to show them this picture because before Spain, they would have never imagined that I would travel somewhere alone, and that I would enjoy it too!
I will carry my experience forward in the way that I live my life. Before studying abroad, I was so content to just stick to my daily routines. I liked comfortable. Now, I plan on branching out more in the way that I was forced to do in Barcelona. I am one of those people that will go to the same 5 restaurants any time I want to eat out. Now, I will force myself to try new places, and to lengthen my list of adored restaurants. This seems like something so mundane, but it’s a simple way to find excitement even in familiar areas. Another way to carry my experience forward is to “Embrace a sustainable lifestyle” like Slimbach suggests. I feel like I developed such wasteful habits in my American life. It’s a bit shameful to admit, but I never recycled that much before going to Europe. While living in Spain, it became second nature to me to separate my trash due to the different bins I had to bring it to. Now, I found myself breaking my old habit of throwing everything in the same trash. I’ve been recycling all my plastic bottles and cardboard boxes. Again, it’s a simple change but something that hopefully makes a difference.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub. LLC., 2010. Kindle.