Well my friends, it seems as though the honeymoon is over. I’m not just talking about my study abroad trip, but also the honeymoon stage of being home. The moment I boarded my plane in Lima knowing that within 15 hours of travel I would be greeted by my family and my big, white bed, I could hardly contain my giddiness. Backpacking around Peru was a once in a lifetime experience that brought a lot of life into perspective for me, but the cold, the constant repacking and moving, and the lack of a hot, relaxing shower were starting to wear me thin. The first ten days I was home felt like walking on a cloud – nothing could bring me down! I had stars in my eyes and might as well have been tap dancing everywhere I went. Lets just say I was having my “Singin’ in the Rain” moment. I was in love with everything. But before I had time to come off my high, I was back on a plane to California for a family vacation.
It wasn’t until I was back in travel mode and walking around San Francisco that everything started to click. The huge buildings, the street musicians, the people, the mass transit, the different neighborhoods, and the restaurants – San Francisco and Buenos Aires seemed move to the same beat. I fell in love. It’s at this point that I started my stroll down memory lane, and feel as though I have walking ever since.
Leaving a city like Buenos Aires to come back to a city like Madison is extremely hard. Don’t get me wrong, I love Madison, but it has lost a lot of its charm since I left in February. It may be because
I’ve realized I need a bigger city or maybe that I’ve lived here my entire life and there’s nothing new to discover, but all I know is that I’m ready for the next step after graduation. Milwaukee, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Paris… Who knows? The challenge of trying to figure out bus schedules, directions, and where things are – things that at one point would send me into a full-blown
panic attack – are now things that I find myself craving.
It wasn’t just my slight boredom that halted my tap dancing attitude; it was also the people. After living abroad for six months it’s inevitable to return with out a more international perspective on everything. For anyone who has left Madison for any amount time at all, it’s clear upon returning that Madison is it’s own little bubble. Although sometimes this is a comforting characteristic of the city, I can’t help but feel paralyzed by it. So many people live and breathe Madison. To them, it’s the center of their world. Not too long ago I was one of these people, but my experience has definitely made me aware of the opportunities that await me outside of Wisconsin and of all the places I have yet to explore. I see myself in a new light, capable of achieving more than I ever imagined when I boarded that plane in late February.
To anyone debating the idea of studying abroad and/or travelling, do it. It’s going to be uncomfortable, it’s going to be scary, and it’s going to be frustrating, but it’s also going to be eye opening, it’s going to be fun, and it’s going to be rewarding. You will learn things about yourself and about other people that you never thought were possible, good and bad. You will also learn things about the United States and international politics that you never thought were possible, good and bad. You may not know anyone where you’re going, and you may not feel like you know anyone once you return home, but there is no doubt in my mind that at the end of the day you will know yourself better than you ever have before.