I had sort of intended my previous post to be my final post, but I think it makes sense to write the final entry from my own bed in Wisconsin, since coming home is definitely a big part of the study abroad experience. Here goes.
I made it home after about 40 hours of travel. Greeting my parents and my grandma in the airport in Madison was just as good as I expected it to be. I’m not usually a dramatic person, but for these two days of leaving Banaras/returning to Madison I let myself be as theatrical as necessary.
Being back in Wisconsin has been… interesting. I’d say it’s confusing and wonderful and sad, all at the same time. I’m sure I’ll be adjusting to life here and digesting my experiences for many months to come, and I’m okay with the fact that it will probably take some time. It took time to adjust to life in India, so the reverse should be true, too. I’m lucky that I have many friends going through the same set of emotions who can help talk me through things.
Some things that have struck me since my return to the US:
-My hometown has so much open space and so few people. It is as eerily quiet as I expected it would be.
-People here are really tall/well-built.
-I don’t have to take my shoes off to go in houses anymore, but I’m going to do it anyways.
-I will never waste food again.
-My parents signed up for Netflix while I was gone, and after reading the descriptions for all the movies that came out in the US in the past 10 months… all I want to watch are the Bollywood films.
-There’s not very much American food I missed when I was gone, except for guacamole and chocolate chip cookies. Most food tastes kind of bland, which is disappointing but perhaps expected.
-The Indian head wobble doesn’t make sense here.
When I was in Amsterdam waiting for my flight to Detroit, I talked to a man who was going back to Ohio after a business trip in Sweden. “I think it’s so important for kids to go out and travel,” he said. “It’s really eye-opening; shows how [screwed] up America is.”
“Sure,” I said. “But I think the opposite is true, too. America is pretty great.”
I’ll remember our conversation as a touching moment for me, because I think it’s easy to become critical of the US, but important to appreciate it. Of course it is not without flaws, but I can definitely say that I love my home country, and I am grateful for the opportunities that being American has presented me with. But I do agree with this man that travel is important for young people, and old people too, I suppose.
With all this said, I’d probably be sadder about my time in India being over if I weren’t going back in about 3 weeks. I am very fortunate and happy to report that I was selected as a recipient of a State Department scholarship to study Hindi for 8 weeks in Jaipur this summer, so I’ll be back in India from mid-June until mid-August. It’s kind of crazy that India has become such a big part of my life, since a year ago I knew so little about it. But if I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that life is full of surprises, so maybe I’m not too shocked.
Thanks again for your loyal readership, and as I said in my last post, drop me an e-mail if you ever have any questions about India or studying abroad.
Bye [for real this time!],