I’ve had a difficult time beginning this post. Coming home for the first time in a year, the adjustment back isn’t exactly black and white. Maybe I’m a little in denial, because honestly, being home feels like vacation, another weekend trip, and any moment now I’ll be on a plane or a bus back to Santiago. Perhaps the “return shock” will hit me once I move back to my home university.
Halfway through my year abroad, my family visited me in Chile to celebrate Christmas. Only after I lost sight of the car driving them to the airport did the reality that I was living in Santiago come like a punch to the gut. Now I’m waiting for the reality that I’ve moved back to the states to strike me the same way. I just hope that this time it comes with the same sense of pride and increase in confidence.
There’s no middle ground in the way people ask about Chile. They either want to know everything or nothing at all. The number one question I get is “How was Chile?” How do I answer that?! Good? I loved it? With the truth about how badly I struggled the first couple months? How am I supposed to gauge which interrogators want the 3 hour summery of the best travel highlights and who only asked to be polite? I don’t take the latter personally, but trying to summarize a year’s worth of life changing experiences is too overwhelming to try for someone who would rather discuss their own achievements over the last year.
My biggest person challenge upon coming home has been the seemingly senseless frustration. I find myself anxious without understanding why. I have to remind myself constantly that I’ve exposed myself to some major changes.
Luckily, though, I have a lot of people in my life who understand. My mom went abroad when she was only 11, so she can relate to many of my frustrations. When I can’t get an idea across in English because the translation just doesn’t have the same connotation, my many bilingual friends usually understand. And although I try to resist spending all day on my phone, I find it comforting that my host family, Chilean friends, and IES Abroad family are just a whatsapp message away.
I also plan to visit Chile again someday. I am not sure when, but it will happen.
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<p>I study Physics and Spanish at the University of the Pacific. When not studying, all I want to do is dance or get outdoors. I've moved to Santiago to get the best of everything: city, mountains, beach, desert, and more!</p>