Back in America

Lexi Kelley
August 16, 2018
View from my deck in Gilford, NH, overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee

It’s crazy to think that it takes less than a day to travel halfway around the world.

After a frenzy of packing and repacking to make sure that my bags weren’t incredibly overweight, I hopped in my last taxi ride in Shanghai to head to the airport. Driving past buildings that had been the backdrop of my life for the past six months, I didn’t really believe that I was headed to the airport to fly home. Minus the immense amount of luggage I had just packed into the trunk of the car, I felt like I was just going on another weekend trip and would be walking back into our New Harbour Apartment in a few short days.

I had been away from home for so long, I wasn’t quite sure what to think of heading back to America. I didn’t really even know if it felt like I was going “home,” because Shanghai had become my home. It was truly a bittersweet feeling. I knew my family was incredibly excited to see me and to hear all about my amazing adventures. I wanted to be happy to go home and see them, but I was also sad to leave my life in China.

As I boarded the plane, I knew it was too late to turn back now. America – here I come!

My body was pleased to get some sleep on the plane after running around and trying to see as much as possible during my last week in Shanghai. Before I fell asleep I said goodbye to my +86 Chinese number and hello to my +1 American number.

As our plane touched down and everyone hurried to customs and baggage claim, I was still in denial that I was really home. After being away for so long, it didn’t seem real! I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.

Talking on the phone at baggage claim, I forgot that everyone around me could understand what I was saying. But wait… I could also understand everything that they were saying. It felt foreign to me. It’s hard to believe, but I felt like an outsider in my own country, even though I was blending right in.

I was excited and nervous at the same time to see my parents. Although I had been gone for so long, it felt like I was just at the airport saying goodbye to them back in February. I rounded the corner and there they were, balloons floating above their heads, smiles adorning their faces, and phones out and ready to catch my arrival on camera. I kind of felt like a celebrity for a short while, but that didn’t last for long.

We exchanged hugs and headed for the car. It was totally normal. I didn’t struggling communicating where I wanted to go or how I was feeling. I didn’t even really need to think about what I was saying.

Pulling into my driveway, seeing my cats, and walking into my bedroom were all familiar; it seemed as though nothing changed while I was gone. I was excited to sleep in my own bed, but when the unpacking started and my floor was soon littered with clothes and souvenirs, I wished I was back in Shanghai.

It’s been nice being home, seeing family and friends, but a piece of my heart is definitely still in China. I know that my experience will last me a lifetime and hopefully I’ll be back again soon, but for now I have pictures and memories to last me a lifetime.

Thank you for following my abroad journey, it’s been a wild ride and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience! can’t wait for all the exploring that’s to come!

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Lexi Kelley

<p>Ever since I was a child, my life has always been linked to helping other people. I founded Kids Helping Kids when I was in sixth grade after I was in a serious car accident. While in the hospital, I heavily relied on the support of my friends and family as I had recovered. As I reflected on my accident and the serious injuries I had suffered, I saw the incredible power that I was shown as everyone came together to help me heal. The idea to start KHK was inspired by the small acts of kindness I witnessed from so many. I was so moved by the generosity of my peers that I wanted to harness that energy and share it with others, who may not have the same access to support. Kids Helping Kids has changed the way I view the world and others around me. I love volunteering because of the experiences and lessons I gain. It has shown me the power I have to make a difference in another person's life, and the impact that the people we serve have on my life.</p>

2018 Spring, 2018 Summer 1, 2018 Summer 2
Home University:
Lafayette College
Gilford, NH
International Affairs
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