I arrived home to Indiana six days ago on July 20 to what I can only describe as an overwhelming sense of both relief and regret. On the drive from the Indianapolis airport before my eyes appeared, in all its glory, a monstrous six-wheeled dual-exhaust lifted truck with diesel fumes spewing out both sides in a cloud of black-grey haze. I thought, "Oh wow! A truck! I haven't seen a truck in ages!" Then I thought, "Oh, a truck..." Its novelty quickly faded into the mundane and the truck was once again just another part of the Indiana experience with which I'd been accustomed all my life.
Another novelty I re-discovered when returning home was the deafening hum of buzzing insects on a warm summer night. My family lives next to a small patch of woods and on those humid summer nights a random orchestra of insects all play their own music at once. For hours, they will hide behind forest darkness and offer their chaotic song. Dublin had no such bugs. Only the seagulls offered anything to fill the dead air, sounding like screaming monkeys starting promptly at 4 a.m. every morning—not cool. Again, though, their hum promptly turned into simple background noise that only affected how loud my conversations were.
How had these incredible aspects of my environment gone so unnoticed? Another example came to me when in Bloomington. I peered off my apartment porch at an old tree across the street and realized I don’t know what kind of tree it is. The thing has been there all year and I never thought to examine it. I looked at a bush and the same thought came, “Why don’t I know anything?” Exaggeration aside, I spent my time in Dublin constantly looking around and taking mental notes. Not on trees or shrubs, but on buildings and street signs and parks and rivers and tiny bookstores so much so that I now feel I know the place better than my own college town. Its history and foreignness pulled me in with an iron grip and I held just as tightly.
Perhaps this is the big transformative lesson everyone so proudly boasts about to the people they return home to. That one unavoidable thing that somehow or another clicked while abroad and adds a quality to life that won’t soon be forgotten. For me, I suppose, it’s a rejuvenated sense of wonder and curiosity for my surroundings. If I can find the terribly small streetlights in Dublin utterly fascinating, then I surely have the capacity to find just a few new things worth discovering back home in Indiana.
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<p>I'm a Senior studying English at IUB and will graduate in the Fall. A few things about me: I've played and studied music all my life, I enjoy the company of close friends, and I love being outdoors in the summer. Looking past graduation, I'm planning for a journalism career so this opportunity is great for me.</p>