How does it feel to be home?

Jane Swingle
June 15, 2016

This is the question I expect from everyone and their mother.  After five months away, how does it feel to be home?  I landed back in the states over three weeks ago and have had ample time to settle back into life at home.  I’ve been to some monster truck rallies, played with my guns, and eaten Taco Bell for every meal.  

Obviously I’m kidding.  I miss Europe.

Here’s how it feels to be back home.

  1. As you would expect, seeing friends and family again for the first time is exciting…
  2. …but it’s also challenging to summarize five months in five minutes when they ask, “How was Europe?!”
  3. I miss my friends in London.
  4. I’m excited to settle back into life on campus in St. Paul.
  5. I miss being able to hop on the tube and get to five-hundred-billion (is that a number?) museums, restaurants, parks, and stores.  I miss diversity of choice.
  6. I find myself more antsy than usual.  It can be jarring and challenging to return to my normal “vie quotidienne" after spending months living a fast-paced daily life full of new stimulation all the time.
  7. It was quite fun to get behind the wheel of my car again…for about a week.  Then I started missing pedestrian/tube life (see #5).  
  8. I’ve returned as a better person—more curious, less hesitant, and only slightly wiser—due not only to introspective personal growth, but to human connection as well. 
  9. By meeting new people and letting them see me at my absolute worst, overwhelmed, frustrated, or often just sweaty and lost, I chose to put myself in uncomfortable situations and learned to be okay with it.  And the friends I met in both Nantes and London didn’t point and laugh at me when I felt embarrassed, tired, or confused.  As it turns out, vulnerability is contagious and creates lasting friends.  Sometimes I don’t realize it until I’m settled back home, and the friends become inseparable from the memories of my travels.

Whenever I return from a trip, it takes only a few weeks for the newness of being home to wear off and me to start dreaming up future trips.  This time, I actually already booked one.  (Side note: I really have little money left, and the fact that I’m spending it on plane tickets is proof that to travel is all I ever want.)  This upcoming trip is a special one, because I’ll be reuniting with three of my favorite people for the first time in over a year.  What makes it even more special is that the four of us met during my semester with IES Abroad in Nantes, France last year.  I’ve said it before: travel fosters such close friendships, and the thought of seeing these three women together again makes me smile to myself even as I write about it.  I will forever encourage anyone and everyone to study abroad because it can lead to things like this.  I loved spending this semester in London, and I’m certain that this urge to continue traveling—one that is usually most palpable a few weeks after the end of one trip (right about now!)—will push me to explore more of the world.  I think this makes wanderlust the best kind of insatiable desire; the more I see, the more I realize how much I have left to experience, and the more determined I am to never let my comfort zone trap me for long.  

Thank you to everyone at IES Abroad London.  

Where to next?

Jane Swingle

<p>I am Jane from Janesville, Wisconsin. &nbsp;I study communications and French at the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota, but I like to spend as much time as possible studying abroad. &nbsp;One day, you&#39;ll probably find me living in Paris. &nbsp;If you can&#39;t find me there, you must not have searched all the boulangeries.</p>

Destination:
Term:
2016 Spring
Home university:
University of St. Thomas (MN)
Major:
Communications
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