I’ve been working on getting my hands on any and every study abroad guide online. Reason? I am in what study abroad experts (who are these people?) call re-entry, the period post-semester when students typically feel a rush of emotions that range from boredom, inability to explain the experience, and feelings of alienation.
While I’ve been good at staying busy (keeping boredom at bay), I really don’t know how to explain my experience in a way that makes other people happy, and while I don’t feel alienated, I do feel socially awkward. Meaning I’m having trouble in simple social situations that I wouldn’t have thought twice about before I left. Approaching a sales rep with a question causes me to freeze up and pace back and forth while I contemplate how to ask for what I want. I don’t know why these interactions make me nervous and uncomfortable, but they do, and they happen not only with strangers but people I know or knew well.
I had a rough time at the airport when I first came back to the USA, and felt bothersome, offended and stupid based on how I was treated by people. This probably contributed to my fear of disappointing or offending people by the things that I say, but I’m not sure.
I really think once I’m back to school and in a more regular routine I will have an easier time, I just don’t know how to treat this transitional period: Everything I knew for the past four months is gone, and replaced by my old life, which is not exactly how I remember it. Coming back, for me, has been all about high highs and low lows – see, yesterday was a high, and shortly after I posted, I hit a low.
Now I’m just trying to work through this and make sense of it, make sense of ME, so I can start making sense to others, too. I’ve realized I can’t expect other people to relate to me if I don’t even know what’s going on with me, if I can’t put my new feelings and beliefs into words. Looking back at my posts from Peru, I was actually quite articulate then compared to how I am now.
Now I am constantly overwhelmed by all of the things there are to do, the places to go, people to see. Overwhelmed is a good word to describe how I’ve been feeling – sometimes I am happy and can easily push that feeling to the back of my mind, when I don’t let myself think too much, but sometimes the feeling (yup!) overwhelms me and can’t be ignored.
What I am trying to say is – I will find direction, and I believe this blog will help me. Looking back at my old blog makes me want to rediscover that inspiration I was constantly finding in Peru, and I know I will. Somewhere deep down, I can still feel it inside me. Right now it may be laying dormant, but I can feel it stirring in me. I can feel it when I want to give my possessions to people who really need them, I can feel it when I think of all the possibilities that lay ahead of me, I can feel it when the kindness of others brings me to tears. Now you’ve just got to bear with me as I find my way.